This morning, Fourth of July, I woke to the same familiar feeling I’ve woken with for some time now—a sort of emptiness in my stomach that feels kind of like butterflies, but not exactly. When you have butterflies, you’re usually excited about something to come. But lately, I haven’t been excited about much.
When I was younger, I was a total doer. I went out with friends all the time, I got outside and ran and roller-bladed and took care of my body, I got down on the floor and wrestled my dogs, I dated—I enjoyed life. But when you have a child, those extracurricular things inevitably diminish. Baby is your central focus. Baby needs you, and in a way, you need Baby. At least that’s the way it was with Kensie and me. We had each other, and only each other, and we depended on one another. I think it will be that way for our entire lives, and that’s the way it should be between a mother and child.
But now, even though Kensie still needs me very much and I her, I am beginning to feel the need for other things. It’s hard to explain, and even harder to explain to those around me, which is why I choose not to talk about it much. When I do, it inevitably comes out wrong and hurts someone I had no intention of hurting. I have a daughter I have to take care of and support, and that is now and should always be my primary focus. My needs are secondary, and as a single parent, that concept is especially vivid in my mind.
Kensie’s dad has never been dependable, and I knew it from the first time we started dating more than 10 years ago. He was exciting and fun. He loved animals and the outdoors as much as I did. He did what he wanted when he wanted to, and that was so different from me and refreshing. What he wasn’t was responsible, and now I know how important that is. So I know deep down that I will never be able to depend on his support. That’s why I chose to leave San Diego and move back home where I have family and friends here who are a huge support to Kensie and me. It’s exactly what we needed to move on.
Quite often, especially lately, I’ve been quietly thinking to myself, “How did I get here? Is this really my life?” And not just since the day I lost my job; it’s been going on for quite some time. I’ve always worked, always supported myself, always had a certain sense of freedom that I held onto for the whole of my adult life. But somehow, for some time now, that freedom seems to have become a distant memory. It’s not just because I have a child. It’s also because I feel so dependent on the people around me for support, both physical and emotional. Although I’ve always known my parents would forever be there to support me in every way, I never knew how hard it would be to accept. Inside, I feel this constant gnawing at my gut, and it’s telling me that I have got to figure my life out now!
So the conclusion I’ve come to is this: It’s time I stop overthinking and stressing and self-doubting and self-hating and feeling terrified all the time. It’s time to stop worrying about everything and everyone else around me and look inside to what I need to be a healthy, happy person. How can my beautiful daughter grow up to be a confident woman who loves herself and every creature on this earth, a woman who knows she is worthy of every gift this world has to offer if her mother isn’t emulating that to her? It’s time today, right now, to start finishing some of the things I’ve started: dieting; working out; getting my boys back in shape; Kensie’s first-year scrapbook; multiple books on spirituality and taking care of myself and our world; research on a future family endeavor; my children’s book. It’s time to make myself a priority. It’s time to start loving myself again. It won’t be easy, especially in the state my life is in right now. But for my own sanity, it’s time I take charge and start to live my life for me.