When my kids were itty bitty, (Daughter, 5 months and Son, age 2) I made a career change, went to Cosmetology school followed by a 3-year Apprenticeship to become a Color Specialist. In my years of training, I made minimum wage and was a Single Mother with full-custody. I worked extremely hard as I was setting myself up for the career I have now.
In those years, as well as the years after on the road as a Corporate Trainer, I missed a lot. I never had the option of being a Stay-at-Home Mom and, as I saw it, could not allow myself to feel guilt about any of it. I had no choice but to push through and provide. I was fortunate to have a few women who gave me really good advice that at the time I didn’t totally understand but now I do. They said to me that when kids are little, anyone (not literally but someone wonderful other than you) can care for them. When kids are little, you know when they are hungry, they tell you when they stub their toe. My daughter, to this day, tells me she is going to the bathroom. What these women told me is that as kids get older, they need you more. As your kid gets into Junior High and older, sometimes they don’t say much about their day for a few hours, if at all. You need to be around and then, when you least expect it, they just start talking.
This week, a friend of my Daughter’s committed suicide. She was 11. This was a new friend of hers so not a family I knew and I have no details on the girl’s life or her family. It still rocked our world. Her older Sister is in school with my Son at the high school he just finished his 3rd week of. A lot of changes going on for him as well.
This week, neither kid has stopped talking for a second. It reminds me of when they were babies and there was a cacophony of sound. A constant stream of chatter and someone always saying “Mom!”. I am so grateful to be closer to home and here for them. I am so grateful that we have a house of communication. Even with all our arguing and (occasional) door-slamming, we have love and direct talks about our feelings.
I can’t imagine what that family is going through. It is the worst thing ever. This isn’t even a teen suicide. Pre-teen. What the hell?
I saw the film Boyhood a few weeks ago with my own kids and we all loved it. What I loved most about it was the reminder that time is precious. I loved the quote I heard recently by Gretchen Rubin, “The days are long but the years are short.” and watching the children in the film’s faces age, I held my breath for what is in store for me. My window in getting to raise my own kids is getting smaller and smaller. What my kids loved about Boyhood was it made their life seem normal. Single Mom, Brother and Sister, Mom working hard to provide with an occasional difficult choice in partnership. Well-meaning but not totally together Father figure. Their life.
I am not religious but I do pray. I pray for the family who lost their Daughter. I pray for the girl who must have suffered in ways we will never understand. I pray for my own kids, family and community and give gratitude for our blessings. I pray that I always remember to count my blessings.