After I had been blindsided so hard during my divorce I had nothing left--not emotionally, or physically, or financially--I remember the exact moment it really hit me that more than likely, it was going to take every ounce of strength I had just to keep standing where I was. That without some sort of highly improbable stroke of luck, there was really no way on earth I would ever have the resources to pursue my dreams or fulfill my goals.
It was the kind of realization that knocks the wind out of a person.
I graduated 2nd in my class. I was a first string competitive precision dance performer on a nationally ranked squad. I played violin, sang, performed on stage. I seamlessly integrated with the geeks, and jocks, the stoners (hey, it was the 80s) but happily belonged to no one group, and I genuinely liked, and was liked by, almost everyone I met.
I was a natural leader and though I never had much interest in telling people what to do, I think everyone just assumed I would end up doing something that would change the world for the better.
Instead, once I left home, the damage I unconsciously masked with a clever wit while surrounded by the familiar…the damage any young girl incurs for being born to a young, violent, alcoholic father…finally reared its ugly head and in the end, I was left here. A single mother, after 9 years of forced isolation, cannonballed out of my marriage to another abuser. Just a different kind.
And I had just realized I was hopelessly past ever realizing the potential I had taken for granted, because I hadn’t known it had an expiration date.
I had wanted to see the world, and leave it better than I found it, but I was not likely to see much more than what was visible from my porch. I had planned to show my kids that world, but it seemed that my reach ended at the end of the driveway.
Anyway (sorry I’m blathering on I swear I have a point), I moped for awhile. But my kids were 7 and 3, and it was terribly hard not to feel joy in their company.
Because of this, I ALSO remember the moment I realized that there was something indefinable (then) I was giving my children just sitting on the porch blowing bubbles and singing karaoke in the living room that I (and they) would have missed if my life had gone as planned.
See, that world-changing life was full. It was busy. My actions were far-reaching, the lives I touched were many (so my delusions were of the grandeur variety, a little bit. Sue me. lol).
Instead, here I was. No transportation, nowhere to go even if we’d had a way to get there. I had failed at life. I felt like I had failed my kids. But I realized in that moment it wasn’t true. Or it didn’t have to be. The world is becoming more and more cynical, and critical, and hateful. If I could unleash two well-adjusted, grounded, happy humans on this downward spiraling planet--well, it was a start.
It was the moment I stopped feeling like “just" a mom.
I started to imagine a world where most children grew up surrounded by parents who saw parenting as their most important job, instead of the one that most limited their other options. (not their ONLY job, because of course, most of us would still need to have a job…just the more crucial of the two, or three, or four.)
I realized that the biggest change I will make in this world will happen not on some grand Bezos scale. I won’t have a brand mentioned in the history books. Or wherever Amazon keeps the history, when I’m (not) history.
It’s going to be quieter, and develop in tight quarters, sometimes under duress. And I’m glad. I don’t need to affect the masses in some small way. I need to affect two humans, BIGLY.
Because I’m a parent, and that’s what we do. We make them who they become, no matter who that turns out to be.
So, that’s terrifying.
The most important changes happen one, by one, by one…and end up growing exponentially until not one is left unchanged. Good change, we hope.
Like vampires and zombies, my son would say. We would have to agree to disagree about this point.
And I would say that’s the kind of change that needs…no… HAS TO HAPPEN, AND HAPPEN NOW.
TL:DR — Super glad you guys joined the circus. ☺