As I sit here at the table, I’m struggling to find the holiday spirit. Normally I feel it months in advance, and I do think I felt it even yesterday. But now that Thanksgiving is here, which means the Christmas Season has officially opened, I just feel empty.
I’m looking around my cold apartment, seeing the poorly-roasted turkey, some scattered leftovers of rolls and stuffing, and a naked Christmas tree. In all of this, I’m struggling to feel complete and thankful.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate what we have, because I do.
Even though the heating isn’t working, at least we have a roof over our heads and steady walls to protect us from the cold rain and wind. We have cozy clothes to keep us warm.
Even though the turkey isn’t perfect, it’s enough to fill a hungry belly.
Even though the rest of my apartment isn’t decorated, the love that Christmas reminds us of overflows out every crack and crevice.
Right now Ian is cuddling with our very cranky toddler in the bedroom, hoping to get him down for a second nap. Soon I’ll start packing up snacks and foods for him to have when he spends the night with Grandma and PopPop (Ian’s parents). Since Ian and I both work very early in the morning, he’s spending the night tonight.
Our life is very chaotic right now, but at the end of it, I always do what I should do as a mom: I get it figured out and make sure my son is always the first priority. He has food sensitivities, so I make sure he has nutritious food choices that won’t cause him tummy aches. I make sure he has clean clothes. I make sure he has toys, coloring books, things to keep him entertained. At the end of it, I make sure that, despite whatever happened during the day, my son is well taken care of.
That is where my heart breaks. That is the point that causes me to collapse and well up with tears. While one of my kids is well taken care of, the other two are having to grow up way too fast. Roman is resigned to a crib. It is one of the best orphanages, but still not a family. When the nannies lay him down, he doesn’t stand up and call after them. He doesn’t cry when he wakes up. I don’t know if he even whimpers when he has nightmares, because he doesn’t have a momma to run to him.
Lynda – I don’t even know where she is. I haven’t seen her gorgeous face in too long. I don’t even know the status of her health. But I do know that she doesn’t have her momma there. I know that she doesn’t have me to run to when she’s bullied. She doesn’t have anyone there to dance with and play with.
It’s times like these that I feel like a complete failure as a mother. With Axel, no matter how awful I feel, I know at the end of the day, even if he’s watched too much TV or had nothing but snacks all day, he’s going to bed in the arms of his mommy. He will not go hungry. He won’t ever go thirsty. He won’t ever be malnourished. But with my other two kids – I have failed. I should’ve been there by now.
They should be sitting at this table with mashed potatoes and some type of pumpkin-dessert smeared on their face. They should’ve helped their daddy set up the tree and marvel at the lights with their brother. They should be fed, clothed, and safe. Every day I wonder if it was something I did; if I screwed up somewhere that caused all the chaos to happen.
But it really doesn’t matter if I feel like a failure or not. Have I failed them up to this point, yes. There is nothing anyone can do to convince me otherwise. As a mom, I know that they should be home by now. I know they’re my responsibility, and I should’ve worked harder and I don’t know where and why I didn’t. But as a mom, at the end of it all, I will figure it out. The only way I will have been a failure to them is if I give up entirely. If I threw up my hands and just gave up, then yes, I will have not only have failed Roman and Lynda, but Axel as well. I don’t ever want my kids to think it’s ok to give up without giving it their best shot.
Honestly, I’m not outright thankful like I should be this Thanksgiving. But I’m thankful for so much, and especially the fact that this is the last holiday season my kids will ever be without me.