<Edited to add: I know I said that this weeks post would be about UU theology and why I thought the world needed it. I think I did an ok job of it here, but it changed a little after the week described in this post. Sorry if it created any confusion.>
I’m having one of the roughest months in memory. My Significant Other and I are trying to orchestrate a move that would fully combine our lives, finally and nearly irrevocably. It will entail finding a house for her, I, her 3 kids, my 2 kids, and my disabled mother. Our budget is actually quite limited, for reasons that go far beyond the current state of the economy.
In the mean time, I am trying to make sure that my mother is receiving the care she needs, to stay healthy enough for the doctors to treat her recurrent cancer. She’s also suffered what I am certain is a mild stroke (though no doctor will just come out and say so) which has left her short term memory in shambles. Things that happened 10 years ago or more, she knows as well as she did 10 years ago. Things that have happened in the last 6, are a confused mess. Things that happened yesterday? She’s often completely lost. This makes it pretty hard for her to manage her own affairs. And it has been made quite clear by the family that I am alone in making sure she is cared for.
Additionally, the last week and a half, my girls have been in town for one of the longest stays in the last 2 years, since their mother moved to Houston. It has been great to have them here, though the timing could not have been much worse. I know they need to see that family things will happen when they are here, and that every visit with Daddy is not going to be Six Flags (in fact, no visit has; again, finances), but I am stressed out about being so stressed out during their visit.
Then, a couple of nights ago, the younger of the 2, who is 7, started really missing her mom. That part is understandable, but it broke my heart to have her sitting in the living room of my house, telling me she wanted to go home. She was not quite 2 when my ex-wife asked me to move out of our house, and I realize now that even though her mother and I split our time with the girls 50/50 for the first few years while we were living in the same town, my little girl has never thought of my house as home.
I am trying to build a life from rags. I put so much into that family that, when my time with their mother was over, I had nothing to show for it except the girls. I put my education, my aspirations, and my life on hold while their mother finished her degree, thinking that I was doing what was best for the family. It was 6 years of my life, and I’ll always be 6 years worse off because of them. The only thing positive about that time has been my girls, who are my only two blood relatives in the world. That’s why it hurts so much more to be reminded that I am not central to their idea of home or family.
I am in the process of having to redefine my idea of family. I’ve got a teenaged boy, where I had given up the idea of having a son of my own. I’ve got a mother who is about as capable as a teen of managing her own affairs, for whom I am now responsible. I’ve got a woman who I am trying to trust, when I’ve been let down so many times. I’ve got my own kids, whom I clearly owe so much more too than what I’ve been able to give them over the last few years.
I am trying to be the center my family needs, all 8 of us. I am trying to raise children who can make choices that will positively effect their communities and those around them. I am trying to life up to very high-minded Principles. I am trying to be an example where no one really wants one. I am trying to live a life of meaning, where just living can be so hard some days.
It is times like this when I doubt my inherent worth. It is time s like this when it feels like the Universe expects too much. I find myself feeling like I give everything I’ve got almost every day, and I still don’t see where I am supposed to find my own fulfillment. In a way, I am doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life; I’ve always wanted to help others. But I know that my mother will never truly get better. I know that my children may never come home to me. I’m helping people who might not ever appreciate it the way I want them to. I just hope that it is a lesson I can learn, and apply to something greater in the future.