Staying Busy, Being Present

This October has been a month, though not even half over, that has sparked a lot of change within me. I’m not sure if it’s moving back to the city that held the most extreme ups and downs of my thirty-six years, holds the most ghosts of my past, is the city I’ve lived in the longest stretch of time since moving out of my parent’s house back in 1999, or if it’s just that I’m thirty-six and honestly, getting older is hard. It’s just hard. Aches and pains show up and don’t go away, sleep is a necessity for functionality, (and I am at the bare minimum), having a night of drinking means having a whole day of sleep and depression the following day, and my time is never really my own. It’s filled with obligations, responsibilities, filled with the need to take care of this other human life that no one really acknowledges because so many people have kids, but that is a HUGE job! Being a single mother is a big deal! Being a parent in a two parent household is a big deal, but I have to commend the single parent people, the men and women who work full time jobs and raise kids.

I was talking to my mom after having my license updated to reflect my new address as well as changing where I’m registered to vote, (don’t want to have to drive two hours away), and we were talking about how I need to keep some of my savings and get a job. I agreed, but not just for because of the monetary aspects, but because when I give myself too much time to think, I start over analyzing, and one of the things that has been on my lately is how my self worth is tied to working. I’ve always worked. When I hit seventeen and got a car, I got a job in at McDonald’s in a neighboring city. From there I moved to Wesco, then worked on campus the whole of my college career, and worked a bunch of random jobs between graduation and the shipping and receiving job I held for the last seven years. So, as much as I’m enjoying this time off, it has the potential to tank my self worth on my low days. When this happens, it’s difficult to get my butt off the couch. It’s difficult to be awake. I just want to sleep until things feel less overwhelming, less depressing. Some days, I lose and I do sleep. I sleep after my child is dropped at school, right until the moment he needs to be picked up. And that’s just not fair to my kid. He needs a mom who is present as much of the time as can be.

The real question is, how does one stay present as much as humanly possible? Well, in my experience, it’s staying busy. It’s making a list and actually checking the items off. Even a grocery list being completed can give me that sense of accomplishment. Granted, cooking and food shopping are very pleasurable.

Another way to stay present is to get engaged in the community. I’ve decided to become a co-den leader in my son’s cub scout den. I’ve never done anything like this before. I’m a bit terrified to be in charge of other people’s kids. However, if this is scary, how the hell am I going to go back and get a master’s degree in Communication Disorders, and then procure work with children? It’s time to step up and start facing some fears. And not only do I get to face a fear, I get to know all the parents of these awesome, energy filled children. And that is huge. Having community is a big deal. I left my closest friends and the community that I was just beginning to feel a part of to follow this dream, and for a while, I felt so damned alone. Even just recognizing parents in the hallway at Small’s school is a way to feel connected.

One of my biggest things anytime I move cities, (I’ve been called a nomad), is finding out about the community and the events. And it is always a priority to find the public library. The park system in our city is also absolutely amazing! There’s a giant farmer’s market two days a week where everyone offers a smile and it’s easy to get into a conversation with the person waiting for coffee next to you. There’s a pumpkin patch a few miles away from my house, and it turns out they make the best cider and pumpkin donuts ever. These things seem small, but getting out is also a way to meet people, and getting the endorphin’s going with a good walk through the park or a game of walkie talkie hide and seek at the giant wooden play structure is never a bad idea.

Today, my list consists of cleaning my house, making dinner with my kiddo and eating together sans screens, and selling popcorn with the scouts at the den meeting tonight. It’s not a crazy list. Yet once tomorrow rolls around and it’s time to wake up, a clean house, happy child and feelings of accomplishment will awake with me.

Struggling and unhappiness will always be a part of life. Without the bad, how would we know the good? And there is so much good if we look around. It’s cheesy, but it’s also true. I can’t stop those days where it’s difficult to leave the couch, but I can do my best to have less of them. I can do my best to make an effort. And on those bad days, I will write cathartic words and eat snacks covered in melted cheese.

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