Monday, December 14, 2009

A Gallon of Guilt for Christmas

     This time of year, we all struggle with the guilt of not being able to give as much as we would like to our family and friends.  I believe that this year, more of us are finding ourselves in this situation, and those of us who have been there before, find it is even less that we can do/give this year. 
     Holidays are always hard for me.  I watch my son battle with anger over not having a family to share the "winter vacation" with.  I watch the tears of happiness over getting anything on his list for Christmas --- knowing money is always tight for this single mom.  I also know that those tears of happiness are a mask of the pain and hatred for the cards he has been dealt --- and that, secretly, the only thing he wants for Christmas is a "normal" life.  The one thing that even Santa can't bring.
     But, this year, it is even harder to watch my beautiful son fight back the anxiety and pain of not seeing presents under our imaginary tree.  Yes, this is the first year that I had to skip the tree too.  I made the decision to move my son from everything and everyone he has ever known, 7 months ago.  More then 1000 miles now seperate him from the life that I spent 12 years building for us.  Why?   I look at it today and wonder if it was selfishness, or the promises that my son would finally have a father.  No matter how I sort it out, and what the reasons (as there were many) the truth is, it has been a hard time for him, and I know find that I am scared that I made the biggest mistake of his life.
    I was laid off (as so many of us were) in May last year.  We were going to lose our home, and my son had been sharing horror stories of drug use and sales in his school, for months.  Yes, drug sales and use in his tender age group of 11 year olds.  The large school that had nurtured his musical talents, and produced a straight A student who was popular and happy, now produced the fears and heartaches that unnerve a parent.  Violence began mid way through the school year, and I felt my innocent son begin to slip into a scary world of lonliness. 
   During this time, I had been sharing my fears and pain with a close friend who lived back home - here.  HE began to urge us to come back, and enjoy the slower paced, family oriented life that I had enjoyed so many years ago.  HE wanted to help raise my son, and offer him the bonding and loving ways that a father should.  HE had never had children, and, at age 56, wanted to give my son the world.  HE and I had been friends for 17 years, and he seemed so serious about wanting to make a family out of our broken past.  There are many reasons that HE and I never made a life together, and I was apprehensive.  After many late night talks with my son, and the reassurance that raising my son didn't have to mean HE and I would have to make a life together, we agreed that this may offer both of us a life that wasn't as stressed.  It didn't hurt that my girlfriends (from here) were excited to welcome my son and I home and for our kids to all share in the fun of growing up together.  So, my son and I wrapped up a few loose ends, and here we are.  Alone, with our friends, but no closer to making our family a whole unit then we have ever been.
   After 4 months of watching my son fluctuate between loving and hating the ways of HIS lifestyle - lived so long without responsibility for anything more then HIS dog and himself - and the drinking that had never been so prevelant before --- I had to walk away.  It was really a choice my son made one day, stating without much emotion behind his pained eyes, "I would rather have only 1 parent that I can count on.  Rather then think someone will be there for me, and have them disappoint me every time."  I understood completely, and I couldn't believe I had placed my son in such a horrible position.  Especially when I had the precursor of the many years of history with this man.  How could I hurt my son with another rejection by a father figure?
   So, here we are, 12 days before Christmas, and there is no Christmas tree to light up the evenings, and no presents to wrap.  Nothing but the drone of another day, searching for a job within the 50 miles and towns of no more then 700 people each, that surround me now.  Unemployment is just enough to keep a house and the bills for the house paid.  The car has a tendancy to shut off while driving, and the propane tank is at 35%.....and it's -20 outside.......my pain and fears have never been so overwhelming.
  By the time my son comes home from school, I am shifting from my sorrow and guilt to his pain.  His music isn't a gift here, and the kids that don't stop to make fun of him, are the ones that aren't interested in being seen with the new kid.  The changes he is going through with puberty are hard enough.  But, now it is even harder -- and it's my doing.  He hasn't asked about Christmas, and he tries to hide the fact that the missing tree is a symbol of his missing friends, but I know.  And I cry each night not wanting to live with the guilt.

  I have spent many years fighting internally to not be my mother.......to be patient and loving and do whatever I could to better my son's life......and I am failing today.

   We don't have the fears of my mother breaking into our home again.  We don't have the lingering paranoia of when she will show up and disrupt our life.  We have wonderful friends that invite us to their family functions (and the entire, huge family is so welcoming and warm), and we have a home that we aren't losing.  We have happy moments, and quiet nights - our health is good, and our faith is strong.  But what I can't offer him is measured in gallons -- gallons of guilt.

  We all have moments in life when our spirit is broken............today is my moment.
  
  

1 comment:

  1. you are doing all you can for you and your son, and wherever you are is where the home is. your love for him is the best present in the world. don't feed into the guilt - it erodes you and your son's spirit. you are NOT your mother. take him to a homeless shelter and volunteer this year for a change. it may do him some good.

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