I really should just stop looking at Facebook, at least at the end of the day. I actually like hearing the updates from friends and family and I don’t even mind the cute (and curated) photos of everyone’s kids and vacations. But – and I mean this in the kindest way I can say – the quotes that appear on my screen are often really awful. Here was one I stumbled across today: “Motherhood sucks me dry of my time, of my energy, of my independence. But when I fall into bed at the end of an upended day, when the tired I feel is already bleeding over into tomorrow, I’m not bitter. I’m grateful.” – Carolyn Moore.
When I read that quote, I heard in my head, “Of course you’re not bitter, Carolyn. Because if you were, this quote probably wouldn’t be one that gets shared around and around. If you felt anything other than total love and gratefulness for your children and your life, I’m sure people would have plenty of judgmental things to say about that. Good job Carolyn for feeling grateful. Good fucking job.”
I know that’s not a graceful response. I haven’t Googled Carolyn Moore yet. I have absolutely no idea who she is. Maybe she’s famous, or maybe she’s a spiritual leader or maybe she’s a blogger. Maybe she’s just a mom. She sounds a lot like me for the first eight-and-a-half years I was a parent. Even now, she sounds a bit like me in my better moments, the ones where I’m pulling it together and trying to be thankful for what I still have on this earth.
But she does not sound like me tonight.
Tonight I can hear my kids upstairs, not yet asleep, whining for me and refusing to just stay in their beds. Today I had one of those days she describes in the quote. I was sucked dry of my time, my energy and my independence. I can’t even sit here and eat a handful of chocolate chips at the kitchen island without having at least one of them come down to beg I return upstairs to tend to them. I am totally sucked dry in a way that I can’t quite describe in words.
Maybe you’ve felt this way too. Maybe you’ve been exhausted after a long day and barely able to do anything at the end of it. I know, I felt that way a lot in the past. But just trust me when I tell you this – what I’m feeling now is much more intense than any exhaustion I’ve ever felt before.
And if I’m going to be honest about how I feel tonight, well then here it is: I don’t feel grateful. I feel bitter.
I feel bitter that I have to do this parenting thing alone every single night for the rest of my life. I feel bitter that Shawn isn’t here and that some random stroke of bad luck meant he – and not some asshole on Wall Street – got cancer. I feel bitter that my kids need so much from me and rarely, if ever, can they actually return that support to me. I feel bitter that my life has turned out this way, even after I made all the right choices and did everything I was supposed to do to be happy.
I want to fall in bed and just feel grateful again. I want to read quotes like this and respond with, “oh, so true!” and maybe attach a photo of my two little boys snuggled into bed with each other, or one of my daughter (or my husband) holding my hand. I want that, I do.
But I can’t do it tonight. I can’t do it because the pain of missing Shawn is too deep right now, and tonight that means that I do not feel grateful for much of anything. I know that sounds terrible, but this blog isn’t just for me to paint a decently hopeful picture of the life I am living. It is also a place where I can be real, where I can show you a bit of my soul and let you into my life.
So here it is: this life right now is one where sometimes I sit with tears streaming down my face at the kitchen island and wish I could be anywhere else.
On nights like tonight, I can’t feel grateful for much of anything. I know that is not fair. I know that I am lucky in so many ways, and that my situation could be far worse. I know that if something were to happen to one of my children I would be lost forever. Truly, I would never be able to recover. So I guess, in a way, I can understand the sentiment behind Carolyn’s quote.
That doesn’t change the fact that tonight I feel raw and bitter and cheated by life. Tonight, “when the tired I feel is already bleeding over into tomorrow,” I feel depressed and I feel drained because I know that the one person who could make me feel better is never coming back.
Tonight, I do not feel grateful.