Before I Begin

My brother and me, playing “Superman and The Rich Lady.”

I know I should be working on my script.  I received some good notes on it from an writer’s group I joined, and I think I have a semi-clear idea of what I need to do.  Doing and knowing what to do — well — those are different things.  I will get to it at some point, but first I need to clear something from my head.

This morning I am starting here: writing to myself and listening to music.  (I love the newish song by Blitzen Trapper, FURR,  It makes me want to cry , but geez, that’s not saying much).  I have one sick child home from school today.  He’s not too bad.  Little cold and cough, but he wanted to rest, I think.  He had a tiny fever which was enough to push me over the edge and say, “Go ahead. Go back to bed.”  He’s there now, watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  When I check on him, he’s grinning, but not sleeping between coughs.

I’ve got a beginning of stew cooking on the stove.  I purchased some unknown cut of meat that was yellow-tagged at Walmart and hopefully it will taste o.k. as some kind of hot supper tonight.  I will make dumplings and perhaps those with the gravy and all will make my  kids happy, fed and warm on a cold October night.

It is snowing as I write this.  I have a yard full of maple leaves that I have not begun raking.  Yuck.  Snow and wet leaves. I have outdoor window panes I must paint.  Gotta do it. These are my plans for the weekend, that is, after the kids play their final games of soccer.

My cat Tigger is trying to cuddle up to me as I write. He bumps his head into my shoulder and rubs up underneath my neck as I write.  I don’t mind as long as he doesn’t step on the keys.

Yesterday, I stopped over at my folks in between picking up my kids ( one gets out at three, the other at 3:30 and so I stopped at their house).  I’ve been sad lately, feeling sorry for myself, frankly, because I feel so alone.  I have my kids — so technically I am not alone.  I am grateful for them and want them to be happy. But they are not the people I can talk to, you know?  I am here to hold them up, not the other way around.  Though I’ve failed that rule, too. So much for being a role model.  I compare myself to others, which is never good.  But I don’t see other mothers that look alone.  I’m sure there are some.  But most women seem to have someone with them, a friend, a family member — someone — as they watch their kids or cheer them on at a game.  I feel like it’s obvious that I am in pain.  I feel it’s obvious that I am a failure.

While at my folks’, I told them that I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday this year.  I told my kids the same.  It’s not that I am not happy to be alive, because I am.  But I had told myself I was going to do something special for myself this year – and financially, I failed again. (Delusional that my script this year would do well.)  Beyond that, this is my seventh birthday acting as single mom of my brood.  For the last six years, my mother has baked me a cake.  The kids and my folks sing happy birthday and then my kids go watch cartoons while my folks and I talk about the state of the world.  I cannot remember exact details beyond that, usually the conversation ends up being about how bad things are, how screwed up our government is and how — the way things are, a person can’t make it anymore.  Can’t make it.  Better to hunker down and be happy with what you’ve got.  Other people are foreclosing on their homes.  Look at you!  You’re so lucky… And look, I am grateful for my parents, for my kids, and even that my husband (1300 miles away) has a job and insurance for himself. ( He pays for Emily’s and mine on a separate policy – catastrophic type).  I am so blessed that we are all alive and well. That we are capable and healthy.  I am grateful for my Mom being willing and here to bake me a cake.  It is a sweet gesture.  I think if my husband were here, if I thought we were building something together — maybe then – I could feel happy?  Maybe not.  Perhaps what Jon and my folks say about me is true: I’ll never be happy.   Maybe I should just give up on that thought altogether.  Maybe striving to be happy is overrated and a fool’s game.

Last night, somehow, I got into an epic battle with my folks.  I am not quite sure how it began, but I think it started when I told them that I am sick of this town, and that every where I go, I run into the same people– (and the same bridges I’ve already burnt.)  Earlier in the day I had gone to Job Service, asking for some assistance in trying to get work within the field I have degrees, but those burnt bridges have become a big problem in this small town.   Then the argument progressed from there:  Where would you go? What would you do?  Where ever you go, you wouldn’t get any help.  Would you want to raise your kids in California?  They are getting a better education here than they would there.  Down there, they’d have to speak Spanish or be in a gang.  You know, at some point, it’s not about you anymore.  Your life is done. It’s their life that matters.  You don’t know how lucky you are…and the coup de gras:  “You’re like all the other welfare recipients — ungrateful for all you’ve got.” Followed by: “You’re not living if you’re not complaining.” My dad was yelling so hard I was afraid he would have a heart attack.  He yelled how he’s never asked for my or anyone’s help.  That if i wanted something in my life, why didn’t I go out and work for it, as he did, as my mother did.  He said, (maybe he asked) rhetorically — yelled rhetorically — that I should have made it by now.  That I should have gotten somewhere by now because I went to college — he didn’t.  That there is no reason that I should be where I am, so basically, shut up.

Up until that point, I was yelling too.  It is true that lately, I’ve felt deeply sad and scared about all the usual.  (The usual is:  No job/in need of a  job, four kids to care for, one in college who I miss terribly and worry about from afar, trying to help my son with autism, trying to keep my  kids involved in activities that will help them later in life, my writing “career” — and saddened to sickness about my so-called marriage, and lack of friendship.)  Recently, I applied for work and got one interview, finally, after nothing for so long.  They wanted me to work hours that would require me to leave my kids alone at night.  (My folks have told me several times to not ask for help watching the kids — so that is not an option.)  Anyway — I didn’t get a job offer.  It’s a job any kid in High School could do, but they didn’t want me.  It’s humiliating.  I am mad at myself for not “making it” yet.  Believe me.  I am so full of shame I can barely face the day.  I am ashamed of my “marriage.”  (Though, I am “lucky” there, too.)  So what if he lives in L.A. and I live here?  So what? What’s 1300 miles — and what’s not seeing the person you married to for 5 months at a time?  What’s the big deal?  A little sacrifice — lots of families are suffering.  I am embarrassed that I still live in a rental.  Again, So what?  “You’re lucky to have that rental.  Some people don’t even have that.  True.  All True.  So… what’s my fucking problem?  How dare I want for more?  To make me feel better my folks tell me that when they die — their house becomes mine.  Gosh Dangit!  That ought to cheer me up!

I think what I was trying to say, when I said I was sick of this town was that I tired of talking to myself.  But after my stupid attempt to say how I was feeling, I guess it’s much safer to talk to myself and this blog that no one reads.

I just fed my son clam chowder and garlic bread.  The snow can’t make up it’s mind, dribbling in spurts.

Now that I’ve managed to do nothing but air my complaints again — it’s time to get back to work.  I hope I’ve learned my lesson though.  Keep my mouth shut.  Keep my thoughts to myself and express it on paper (or anonymous blog posts) and find a way to let it go.  Be happy.  Be grateful.  Be grateful for my children’s happiness.  Their happiness is my happiness.  Which is what I truly believe. If my kids are unhappy, I am unhappy.   I want all to be well for them, even if i can’t make it happen for them.   I try to let them know that they can succeed, that they can accomplish their goals, their dreams,etc..  I want them to never give up.  When things get hard, and they will, I want them to hold on to the tiniest shred of faith and keep going until they see light and joy.  I believe it is there.

So.. after my argument last night — what about me makes my folks say:  Your life is done?  They’ve said it to me before.  It’s not new.  I cannot imagine ever saying it to my kids, even if I am lucky enough to be alive when they get to be my age.  I want my kids to be happy.  I never want them to give up or believe they can’t win.  I refuse to say that to them.

But man-oh-man, it rings in my ears this morning.

Last night, too, after I got home with two of my kids who were there to witness the fight, (after crying of course, ’cause I’m tough like that) — I had my son call them to see if they were o.k.  I was worried that (seriously), my dad would keel over as angry as he was — and my mother had left the room, so disgusted with me. I had mocked her when she said, “well I guess there are nicer places than here…”  I took it as a self-pitying ploy from her.  The town’s “niceness” is not the issue.  The problem for me is that I know too many people who’ve already shut the door I knocked on.  I have no idea how to get “in.”  Anyway — she didn’t like it when I mocked her tone.  I only note it here, because I do love them and worry about them.  I would have loved to have made them proud of me.  They are very proud of  their grandchildren.  I am glad of that.


post script:

A week later, my dad called me up just to tell me that he loves me.  I love him too.  I love them both.  I always will. And his call helped a lot.


About Fringe Details

I write spec screenplays. Mum of five awesome people and caretaker of 6 chickens, five cats and one smelly dog. View all posts by Fringe Details

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