Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Brokenness that Won't Die

What I can't tell you is that I don't feel like I matter. Because I'm a mother. Because I have screaming, squeaky things that depend on me for nourishment, rest, and play. They're inconvenient. You'd rather not deal with them. Yet in not dealing with them, you are also not dealing with me. You are not dealing with a wounded mother, who hopes the best for her friends but has precious little time to spend with them. You are not dealing with a person who has seen her lifeblood, at the tender ages of four and two, go through things you can't even imagine happening to your child (or the children you will have one day). You are turning a blind eye to my hopes and dreams, my gifts. I want to bring joy to people, yet too often I feel as if no one cares whether I live or die, because even my encouragements go unnoticed.

I understand the desire for an interruption-free day... probably better than any of your single friends. Yet when it comes down to it, “No Children Allowed” is just another way you say “YOU aren't allowed,” because the person who does sacrifice their time to watch over my kids, does so to the point of exhaustion, and the others weary easily. I can't afford childcare – I'm lucky I can afford our groceries, and even that is with the help of state programs such as WIC and utility assistance programs. So “No Children Allowed,” to me, isn't just a matter of me needing to find a sitter. I can't afford one. Our parents graciously watch our children for free, aware of our circumstances, but we also don't want to take advantage of them to the point of wearing them out.

I work with kids who are so blessed that they don't realize that phones can be anything other than “smart”. I work with kids who vacation in places I only dream of visiting. I watch families with plenty, and I sometimes wish that my family could accomplish that – that we could enjoy a beautiful vacation in a wonderful place. Instead, I get to indulge the children while they go on about their own decadent lifestyles, and I think, “Wow, I wish I had a fraction of the spending money you have.” Some days are very difficult; they have plenty and a reprieve, while I sometimes feel as if my feet are cemented to the ground. I can't take extra jobs, as our children's caregivers are already taxed, yet we can hardly make ends meet. This would be tolerable if I had friends... yet the only social outlet I have is on the computer, and I find that time there only sinks me further into the feeling that people don't truly care for me.

I suppose this is my fault. When I had my first child, I withdrew into a cocoon of mommyhood. I ceased ministry-related obligations, and when I did want to come back, they no longer felt they needed me. I could help out in Sunday School, they volunteered, but ever since I became a mother (and because both my husband and I worked nights) this sounded impossible for me. Knowing that I wasn't wanted or needed caused me to spiral even farther downward, and now (despite praying that I would have forgiveness and begging for theirs) I can't look at them without feeling a stab of pain and remorse. I had been a leader there for four or more years, and had attended twice as many as those years. These were my friends, people I had known for a very long time. I had said and done things in anger, but I'd also come to them asking forgiveness and I politely told that they had no need for my drama. I was hurt going away from that meeting.

Then, in a blessed moment of redemption, I discovered I could start teaching my daughter's age group. I was unable to come some of the days when my kids were sick, and had also committed to do stunt work on Sundays. I spoke to the other teachers about it, and they said it would be fine to come after the show was over, since they would only be practicing the Christmas Program. I was grateful for both opportunities, and was looking forward to returning to teaching, when I received a very polite letter stating that I would no longer be teaching because I couldn't keep my commitment. It stated that I should have told the person in charge of the teachers, but it regretfully didn't cross my mind to ask him since the other teachers had given me the go-ahead. I honestly forgot that he'd said to let him know if there were any changes to our personal schedules. So I wept and apologized to him as well, and I felt like a complete failure as a mother and a teacher.

And I still do.

I have accomplished nothing. All of these grand dreams of mine were for naught. I find myself just growing more jaded: why hope when all of life is so disappointing? And the one thing I long for most is still the one thing that's been denied me for these (almost) seven years, since Amber Shrader passed: One friend. Just one good friend... someone who loves me for who I am, who I don't have to question myself around. Someone who laughs at my stupidity and gets excited about my silly dreams with me. One person. This one elusive person has broken my heart more than the people who have falsely imitated her. I almost wish I had never met Amber at all. She was just too good, too joyful, too loving and full of grace. In my search for a friend, I still have found none.

And perhaps because of it, in searching for my own worth, I have found none.

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