Since I’ve been gone

If you have followed my writing in any capacity, you may have noticed that I have taken a break.

Can I be totally honest for a minute?

I had to stop writing because I was just so sick of it.

I was sick of being a widow.

I was sick of feeling like I had to defend my feelings. It didn’t matter if those feelings were grief related or not.

I was sick of being put into situations where I felt like I had to defend my feelings.

I was sick of being defined by my grief and my widowed status

I was sick of all the projections and expections. From others and from myself.

I was sick of the grief. It’s not like I asked for any of this to happen to me or my daughter.

I was sick of people trying to take advantage of me. Plot twist: A few were successful. Ironically these people are usually the most vocally outraged when you set boundaries.

I was sick of the people who made me feel like less of a person because I had to accept their help.

I was sick of living a life full of empty dreams.

I was sick of people telling me how to grieve and how to widow.

I was sick of people thinking that they have a say on how I live my life. Everyone has a gosh darn opinion and most aren’t afraid to share it.

I was sick of people telling me that I needed to forgive God.

I had finally had enough.

I needed to retreat and recharge.

All my writing was private. For myself only.

I needed a break from y’all.

I don’t know why I said “y’all”. I am not a Southern girl at all. New England through and through.

And no, I am not dissing Southerners. My Southern friends will agree with me.

The reality is that when I created this blog, I wrote as an outlet to process my feelings.

A way to figure out my grief.

While I can’t say that I have totally figured this grief thing out, but it is much more manageable. Sure, grief still catches me off-guard at times but I know how to handle those emotions now.

I don’t need to write a 1200 word blog post every time the grief monster hits.

And even if I did write a blog post every time grief makes a visit, I do not feel like it would be beneficial to me or to you.

Unfortunately, life never goes back to normal. And how could it? I can’t go back to my life as a wife and mother with the absence of the husband and father.

There’s a gaping hole in what is now my former “normal life”.

And the only person who can fill that gaping hole is never coming back. At least not in any Earthly form.

So I need to figure out exactly what my new normal is.

I took this time of grief and emotional upheaval and purging to question everything I once believed.

I questioned all my relationships. I started to realize which relationships were real and which relationships were fake. Some were surprising.

Once you start seeing the truth, you can’t unsee it. Even if it’s inconvenient.

I now have no choice but to live my truth. At least, the parts of my truth that I have figured out.

I am still working on that.

But really, all of us should be searching for our own truths.

As I search for my truth, I don’t feel comfortable sharing everything.

But I will share what I can.

So what can be expected from my blog at this phase-

1) Any grief related material I feel a need to write about.

2) Aspects of soul searching that I feel called to share.

3) Race-recaps. I ran a race and I still need to write up a recap.

Turning Inward: It’s not you, it’s me.

So January is almost over and I haven’t blogged.

I started 2019 with big plans for the blog.  I even scheduled blog posts into my google calendar.

Then the New Year happened.

And I just didn’t feel like it.

Kind of like Forrest Gump when he decided he didn’t want to run anymore.

I started this blog as an outlet for my emotions and my grief.  I also had hoped to help others understand what a widow went through.

I have tried really hard to be open and honest about my grief.

I do not regret doing that.  Not for one minute.

I know I have helped people as I have also helped myself.

I experienced immense healing and I got to explore my new life and new depths of myself and my personality.

Things began to change.

But I found as time went on, I felt the need to censor myself in my blog.

I put my feelings out there and I feel like people took advantage of my openness.  That they were entitled to know everything and they were entitled to have a say about my decisions.

I got tired of people telling me how I am supposed to feel, how I am supposed to live my life and what my boundaries are supposed to be.

Especially when most people have not gone through what I had.

I have always been a very closed off person with a lot of walls.  Bryon was able to tear down some of those walls but sadly, it took his death to tear down the rest of the walls.

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I’m going to focus on another president and another wall. Because this is America and I can.  Yes, I can.

I believed that tearing down my walls and letting people in was one of my spiritual lessons that my soul needed to accomplish in this lifetime.

I still do.

But the pendulum went too far.

And now I need to learn how to set boundaries again.  Albeit healthier boundaries.

It’s okay to have walls but instead of huge 10 foot walls, I need some of those cute stone walls you find in New England.  Remnants of a colonial time, strong but low enough  to the ground that people can easily climb over them.

My blog stopped being my space.

A good friend of mine pointed out that I feel the need to explain myself in my blog and apologize for moving forward.

This blog, a place that was once therapeutic, has now become a bit of a chore.

Writing no longer felt therapeutic.

In fact, I began to wonder if the blog was hindering my growth and healing.

And it defeats the purpose of why I am writing in the first place.  At least, writing in a public platform.

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So I have decided that I am turning inward for the time being.

I will continue to write, but in my personal journals.

I have come to the realization that while I have been open and honest about my grief, it does not mean that I have to be open about every area of my life.  

It’s okay to keep some parts of my life to myself, my daughter and those closest to me.

And that is okay.

I will write in here when I feel called to write to.

Yes, I am passed the worst of my grief but I still have my moments.  And those moments will always creep up on me.

Or maybe I will be called to write about other aspects of my life.

Who knows?

There is a bright and long future ahead of me.

So for those who have always supported me and my writing, I thank you.

You will be seeing less of me here.

But this isn’t good-bye.

 

18 Lessons I learned in 2018

This is my final word about 2018.

At least on this blog.

Was 2018 really that bad?

Maybe.

But 2016 will always be the worst year of my life.

There was a lot of negativity in 2018.

And some very hard lessons.

I am grateful for those lessons because pain brings growth.

I absolutely refuse to carry that into 2019.

At the beginning of 2018, I felt like the year was going to end very differently than it began.

2018 started with the funeral of a good friend (followed by two more, one of which was my grandmother.) I also lost an old high school friend in July.

I traveled every month except July. Austin, Boston, NYC, Philly, Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee and Ohio. I spent a lot of time in Maine and it has felt good to be home.

I suffer from wanderlust and traveling has been good for my soul. It’s been part of my healing process.

It was a year of reunions. I saw my cousin three times and I saw my Chicago best friend three times.

And the year ended with a fabulous wedding between two amazing friends.

I am leaving with this list of 18 lessons I learned.

In no particular order-

Kerry’s top 18 lesson from 2018

1. I have come far from my early days of grief.

2. The Paw Patrol can fix anything. No job too big, no pup too small.

3. Forgiving people really is for me. A quote that reasonated with me was that by not forgiving, it is like you are drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The offending party doesn’t care how you feel. In fact, they may enjoy that you are upset. So forgive and let to.

However…

4. Forgiving someone does not mean you grant them absolution for what they did. It just means you’ve let go of the anger for yourself. It doesn’t mean that the offending party is off the hook.

5. You are not entitled to anyone’s loyalty.

6. Be careful who YOU are loyal to and who YOU trust. No one is entitled to your loyalty and trust but don’t be stingy to those who do deserve it.

7. Let go of friends who took me for granted and don’t respect my boundaries. And that’s okay.

8. Boundaries are everything.

9. Truly appreciate the friends who are supportive and continue to truly be there for you.

10. I am an empath. Not to be confused with empathetic. Empaths absorb the emotions of those around them. It’s overwhelming at times. You have to work out your emotions vs others.

11. Empaths attract narcissists and I need to avoid narcissists.

12. It doesn’t matter where I go, Bryon will find me. He even found me on what would have been our 6th wedding anniversary while I was waiting for my lunch at a takeout window at a clam shack on the Maine Coast.

13. It’s amazing how much a 4 year old can teach me.

14. I need to stop trying to please people. Some people will never be satisfied.

15. It is important to love yourself.

16. Everyone is free to make their own choices You are only responsible for YOUR choices and no one else’s.

17. I can’t do the fake and superficial thing.

18. I am officially out of give a f*cks. I have no f*cks to give. All out of f*cks.

I do not know what is in store for 2019 but I am ready! It’s going to be a good year.

Farewell 2018: Leaving behind fear

 

One of the biggest obstacles about moving forward is the fear.

Fear?  What fear?

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Fear of letting go.

Fear of things not going the way I expect.

fear of life feeling empty.

Fear that I will never be understood.

Fear of re-acclimating.

Fear that I will forget.

I have discussed in this blog about how I am currently in what I think of as “Phase III” of my grief journey.

To give a refresher-

Phase I: The first 3-6 months of widowhood.  My whole world was shattered and I am trying to figure out what the f*ck just happened to my life.  Getting out of bed and showering are a struggle.

Phase II: The period between 3-6 months and about two years.  It was the phase where I had to accept that Bryon was gone and I needed to get used to him being gone.

And now I am in Phase III.

Phase III is the phase where I need to move forward with my life.

It’s not just enough to visualize it or talk about it.

I need to do it.

I know I need to do this but there is always something holding me back.

I am excited.

But there are these fears that hold me back.

The fear that if I move forward, then I will have to let go of Bryon.  Of course, I will never completely let go but taking those first few steps are the hardest.

The fear to be hopeful because you don’t want to be disappointed.

The fear that my new life will be unfulfilling?

I need to leave these fears in 2018.

If I bring them with me, they will prevent me from achieving my dreams.

So fear much be put on the imaginary Viking Funeral Ship, set on fire and set off.

What fears are you leaving behind in 2018?

Farewell 2018: Leaving the negativity behind

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2016 was the worst year of my life.

It will always be.

Only one thing could happen to me that could top that but I am not going to entertain that thought.

2017 was a fog.  I was surviving.

2018 was the year that I need to stop surviving and start to live again.

When 2018 started, I had a feeling that things were going to be very different by the end of the year.

I was right.

(Funny how that happens…)

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Was 2018 a bad year for me?

Yes and no.

There was a lot of death.  I lost my grandmother and two friends.

The year was full of hard lessons.

I had to learn that people and things are not always what they purport themselves to be.

I had to learn that I need to look for internal rewards and not to look externally.

I had to learn to release and let go.

I had to learn to live again and make decisions on the direction of my life.

I had shit thrown at me.

But I survived it.  And I am smarter for it.

I learned what was really important.

Seriously, I am 40-year-old woman, who has been to Hell and back and I have a small child dependent on me.  It was time for me to focus on what was important.

Last year I didn’t write much in December.  I was beginning to think this year was going to be the same.  However, I think over the next couple of weeks, as part of the releasing process, I am going to write posts about what I am leaving behind in 2018.

Kind of like a farewell rock tour but less cooler.  A lot less cooler.

I am going to take all the negativity that was thrown my way, put it on an imaginary Viking funeral Ship, light it on fire (again, imaginary.  I don’t want to blamed for starting any fires.) and send it off.

If you have anything you need to release before we begin 2019, I invite you to put them on the imaginary Viking funeral ship.

Kerry McKim’s Half-Assed Hallmark Christmas, Episode 1

*This story is a satirical piece based on the real life events of Kerry McKim.  This written work is meant to be humorous. This story is not affiliated  in any way with  the Hallmark Channel though some may argue that it should be.  Currently there are no plans to be affiliated with the Hallmark Channel…yet.

While the shopping began weeks ago, this years Christmas Story began last weekend.  I was home visiting my parents and I decided that it was going to be the day where I get to live in a Hallmark movie.

All the enlightened guru’s say that we create our own realities.  Let’s face it, I am bouncing back from a shitty period of my life.  I always feel good when I watch Hallmark movies so why not make it my reality.

I have a lot going for me.  Let’s look at the facts.

I am a widow ✔

I have a cute kid ✔

I was  in my hometown, which is a small coastal Maine town ✔

It’s Christmastime ✔

Now I just to need find one of these single, good looking, successful, 
emotionally available middle aged  men that seem to be wandering around Small Town America.   

The “emotionally available” part if very important.  I know a lot of these Hallmark Christmas Men have chips on their shoulders.  I can handle that.  But he needs to be emotionally available.  I am the widow who needs someone to show me that love still does exist and it is all around.

This is my half-assed Hallmark story and I can add Love Actually references if I want to.

I will note that I did have a few things working against me-

❌ I was not there to save the Christmas parade. It seems like I was not needed.  The Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce seems to be handing it just fine.

❌ I was not here to save the family business. There is no family business. Unless you count the postal service and I don’t have have the super powers of Candice Cameron Bure or Lacey Chabert to go against that bureaucracy.  

❌ I came to realize that nothing needed to be saved.  My family home is safe and we don’t have a family farm to save.

❌ I don’t own a vintage red pickup truck.  I own a red Subaru Forester and a blue pickup and my father has a new red pickup truck.  But no vintage red pickup truck.  This is problematic because in addition to the cuteness factor of an old red pickup truck, many Hallmark movies involve a Hallmark Christmas Man rescuing a damsel in distress due to her unreliable vehicle.  My late husband made sure I had the safest winter car there is and I have been maintaining the vehicle.  Hallmark Christmas Man will have to find another way to help me.

❌ I also don’t have a high school ex-boyfriend. I wasn’t cool enough or pretty enough I guess.   

(I really need to get over this emotional block considering I am in my 40s now).

Since I didn’t need to save a business, a home, a farm or Christmas in general, I decided to go to the local Christmas parade.

I got to town about a half an hour before the parade.  My daughter is in that phase where any unit of time that isn’t “right now” is “a very long time” so I didn’t want to be standing there waiting.  

I was worried about parking.  I was having trouble locating a spot and then I see a man directing cars into a Baptist church parking lot.  I was excited.  I did not attend that church when I lived there because I am Catholic but I had cash in my pocket and my adopted New York ways just assumed I would to pay to park anyway.  I tried to hand the attendant some money and he seemed surprised and he declined the cash.  He did invite us to cookies and hot chocolate at the church after the parade.

Cookies and hot chocolate at a small town church did seem like something that would happen in a Hallmark Christmas movie.  But I am still mad at God and I didn’t want my Hallmark Christmas movie to be one where I find God.  Especially if that meant that I would have to convert to another form of Christianity to meet my Hallmark Christmas Man. 

My Hallmark Christmas Man is going to have to accept my “It’s Complicated” relationship status with Catholicism

I knew that my Hallmark Christmas Man could have been there eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate but I was willing to take that risk.

I went looking for a friend of mine.  She was convinced Hallmark Christmas Man and I were going to go after the same piece of candy that was thrown at the crowds.  Our eyes were going to meet.  I was going to blush.  He was going to say “I haven’t seen you around here before.”

Though that moment never happened.  Turns out my daughter is perfectly able to fend for herself when it comes to candy.

As I was looking for my local friend, I saw an old friend of mine.  She lives in Florida and I hadn’t seen her in about fifteen years.  We had lost contact.  She was in town because her father had passed away.  She has been on my mind a lot lately and I do believe we were meant to bump into each other.  I gave her my contact information and I do hope I hear from her.

I finally found my local friend right before the parade started.

My Dad was in the beginning.

My daughter on the lookout for candy.  

I thought I was smart because I grabbed a plastic grocery store bag to hold candy.  Turns out it had a hole.  Luckily there was enough freebies like a local newspaper and frisbees that I was able to plug up the hole and still be able to use the bag for candy.

There were lots of floats from the community. 

I told you, the parade didn’t need saving.

Since my father was at the beginning of the parade, he was able to make it back before the end of the parade.

Santa!  I know him!

After the parade, I took my daughter to the office of the local newspaper, The Ellsworth American because they give each kid a book.  They had tables set up by age group and each kid could choose a book.  My daughter chose a Snoopy book because her teacher likes Snoopy.

It is worth noting that the local newspaper didn’t need me to save it (though it did just get bought out by the Portland Press Herald) and Hallmark Christmas Man was not there.

My daughter had to use the bathroom so we stopped at the VFW Post that my father belongs to so we could use the facilities.  My daughter was hungry so my father and the other VFW members invited us to crash the cub scout pizza party they were hosting.

I felt a little awkward but my daughter made friends with the kids and I saw a few old friends of mine.  It was great to catch up.

Hallmark Christmas Man was not at the pizza party.  But my father, my daughter and I headed up to the Christmas Tree lot to look for the Perfect Sullivan Family Christmas Tree.  

And maybe Hallmark Christmas Man would be there.  Maybe we would both pick out the same Christmas Tree and fight over it.  That seems to happen a lot.

That didn’t happen.  

My father picked out the Christmas Tree, not me.  And there was no Hallmark Christmas Man fighting with my Dad for the tree.

I will say, it was nice to pick out the Sullivan Family Christmas Tree with my father.  (Think of these as flashback sequences in my Half-Assed Hallmark Christmas).  

The first reason was because we always had an artificial Christmas Tree growing up but my Sullivan grandparents always had a real tree.  My father would tell stories of going to every Christmas tree lot in town with his father (my grandfather).  Apparently my grandfather was very particular about his Christmas Trees.  Though I have memories from some Christmases of my childhood and I remember those trees.

I could tell my father enjoyed remembering his father during the process.

The second reason has to do with “das stand.”

The story of “das stand” started in 2010 when Bryon and I moved into a townhouse in Albany and we were planning on getting our first Christmas tree.  We both felt strongly that we wanted real trees.  On a trip to Maine that fall, I bought a $2 Christmas tree stand at Marden’s. 

What a bargain!

Only we couldn’t get our six foot Christmas tree to stand up in that stand.

We decided to cut our losses and we went to Wal-Mart and we invested in a $15 Christmas Tree stand.

We used that Christmas tree stand a couple of years.  

Bryon and I always left our tree up until Epiphany.  We were good Catholics like that.  Right before Epiphany in early 2014, two things happened.  The first was that I found out I was pregnant with our daughter and the second was that Bryon came down with H1N1.

Epiphany was on a Monday that year and between my early pregnancy exhaustion and Bryon’s flu, the tree didn’t come down.  Thursday of that week, we woke to a crash.  Our cat had got into my knitting and somehow wrapped the yarn around some tree branches and pulled the Christmas tree down.

By the following Christmas, in 2014, Bryon and I had moved to our house and our daughter had been born.  Between the cat and a future toddler, Bryon was adamant that the Christmas tree was not going to come down.

So he bought a Krinner XXL that he affectionately referred to as “Das Stand”. 

Bryon and “Das Stand” spent two Christmases together.  

The first Christmas after Bryon died, I didn’t feel like having a Christmas tree but I felt like my daughter still deserved one.  I got one up with the help of a friend.

The following year, I got the tree up all by myself. It was a “I am widow, hear me roar” moment.  I know that because it showed up in my Facebook memories.

Since I am travelling this Christmas, I got an artificial tree at my house (I know, so wrong and not Hallmark at all) and I brought “Das Stand” to Maine for the real Christmas Tree there.

(End of flashback scenes)

I hadn’t unpacked “Das Stand” from my car and my father asked me to go get it so he can have an idea how the 8 foot trees would stand in it.  I retrieve “Das Stand” from my car and the boy working (the Boy Scouts were running the Christmas Tree lot) says “Wow, I have never seen anyone actually bring a Christmas tree stand.”

I let the kid think we take our Christmas trees very seriously.

As my father and the actual adult working the lot put the Christmas Tree into the car, the man says “now THAT is a Christmas tree stand.”

I feel like wherever Bryon is now, he would be proud.  He might be dead and gone but “Das Stand” lives on.

When we get home, my father saws off the bottom.

And we prepare to get the Sullivan Family Christmas Tree into “Das Stand” while my daughter watches Fancy Nancy or Vampirina or something on Disney Junior.

I cringed as my father cut away the twine.  I was nervous that the branches were going to break through the living room window but my fear was for nothing.

I inspected the tree for squirrels but did not find any.

We were leaving the trimming until the next day because we wanted the branches to have a chance to fall.

I was heading out to an exciting night out in my small town.  I was excited to have dinner with my friend Charlotte.  

And maybe we would meet Hallmark Christmas Man. Maybe he would be out having a drink.

We went to a local favorite, Finn’s Irish Pub.

We had beverages, Irish Nachos and sandwiches.  I forgot to take pictures of the food.  But we saved room for dessert.  I love the Guiness Cake with Bailey’s Frosting.

I didn’t find Hallmark Christmas Man.

Or really…Hallmark Christmas Man did not find me.

But I got to spend time with one of my good friends.

I mean, as Leslie Knope says “Uteruses before Duderuses”.

The next day was freezing rain so I stayed at my parents house.  I knew the odds of Hallmark Christmas Man actually just showing up at my parents house were slim.

We watched the Patriots beat the Vikings.

My daughter made a gingerbread house.  It was from a kit.  It was standing and not all the icing made it into her mouth.

I consider it a success. 

We, I mean she, needs to bring her “A game” for her gingerbread contest, I mean, school assignment.  It’s not really a contest but a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies have gingerbread contests so a non-competitive school assignment might have to do.

Right now it looks like we need a Christmas Miracle to meet Hallmark Christmas Man.  Though Kimmy Gibbler reminded me that sometimes Christmas Magic begins to work closer to the holiday when there is a time crunch.

So where is Hallmark Christmas Man?

So far it seems like a Hallmark Christmas Mystery.

Will the widow’s daughter have an amazing gingerbread house for school? 

Will the widow’s daughter stay on Santa’s Nice List? 

Will the widow continue to be haunted by memories of “Christmas Past” and by the ponderings of “The Christmases That Should Have Been?”

Will Hallmark Christmas Man- in the biggest plot twist ever in Hallmark Christmas History- show up in Albany, thus confusing the widow since Hallmark love only happens in one’s hometown?

Will “Das Stand” continue to hold up the Sullivan Family Christmas Tree? 

Where will Charlotte and the widow go to dinner next time they see each other?

Stay Tuned for Part 2!

What it is really like to be a widowed parent

Being a widowed parent is definitely its’ own type of parenting.

First there are all the difficult questions I have to answer.

“Why is my Daddy in Heaven?

“How come I don’t have a Daddy here?”

“How come my friends have Daddies and I don’t?’

And then come the questions from my daughters preschool friends which are trickier to answer because I am aware that not all families follow the same belief system I do (which is somewhere between “Lasped Catholicism”and Agnostic with some Buddhist tendencies mixed in).  Most of her friends ask questions that are innocent enough though one classmate asked me about her absent father in a very accusatory tone.

Then there is the feeling of being inadequate and overcompensating.

Like I am not enough for her.

My daughter started out life with two whole parents.

And now my daughter is left with one parent.

One parent who has to be two whole parents while she is broken herself.

Because on top of having to be Mom and Dad, I was and still am dealing with grief.

When Bryon was alive, we were a team.  His job had more demanding hours so I usually did daycare drop off and pick up.  But every Tuesday, I had a late night meeting so Bryon picked our daughter up from daycare.

When our daughter was sick, we coordinated who took sick days based on our work schedules.

But now it’s just me.  All the sick days are mine.  All the daycare pick ups and drop offs are mine.  All the lessons, doctors appointments, school functions and birthday parties are completely my responsibility.

As hard as widowed parenting is, I do a pretty good job with that.  (Especially since I work remotely and my hours are flexible.  I am very grateful for my job.)

I like to think I rock this widowed parenting thing.

I am proud of it.

I work very hard at it.  My daughter might be growing up without her father but I am going to make sure she gets the same opportunities she would have had had Bryon  lived.

The price I pay is that I don’t get much “me” time but I will get that when my daughter goes off to college.

Or maybe sooner, like when she becomes a teenager and decides I am not cool anymore.

But despite rocking widowed parenthood, nights like last night still throw me off my widowed parenting game.

The night started out innocently enough.

My daughter was in dance class, learning a new ballet routine.  She was corrected by her dance teacher.  It was for something innocent enough like her stance.

She didn’t like being corrected by her teacher and verbalized that.

Her teacher told her she needed go sit with me.  My daughter let out another verbal statement of defiance toward her teacher and she flops on the ground.

This is not okay.

I go to pick her up because it isn’t fair to her classmates or her teacher to have her flopping on the floor like a two-year-old.

My daughter gets more upset.

I try to calm her down.

She begins to get even more upset that she is missing class.

I try to calm her down so she can return to class.

We leave the room.  We go to the bathroom and she washes her face.

She says she has boogers which is usually the sign that she has calmed down and just needs to blow her nose.

She blows her nose and we go back to class.

She gets more hysterical about the part of class that she had missed.

I decide it’s time to go home but her teacher wants to make another go at my daughter joining class.

I decide that if her teacher is up for it, then maybe we can salvage what little bit of time we had left in dance class.

My daughter calms down initially but she gets riled up again.

I decide it’s time to go home and try again next week and she goes into full melt down.

My daughter is generally a pretty easy going kid.  She does struggle with transitions, especially when I am picking her up from school during an activity she enjoys.  I get it.  She is having fun and doesn’t want to leave.  Her teacher is aware and prepares her for any early arrivals.

She struggles to sleep at nap time so maybe she was tired.

She has a cold so maybe that was it.  I know I am an emotional mess when I feel sick.

Maybe she was hungry but unlikely.  She is very good about vocalizing that need to me.

But I do know that when my daughter gets mad, she gets MAD.  I am very similar. I have a strong personality and Bryon had an even stronger personality.  So it makes sense that she has a strong personality.

Someday her strong personality will serve her well.  Especially when she is older and is aware of that personality trait and is able to use her strong personality to her benefit.

But at this particular moment, her strong personality was causing a major disruption to dance class.

At this point some of the other parents are glaring at me probably because, clearly, their kid has never had a public meltdown.

Some of the other mothers were trying to help me which stressed me out even more.

Because at that very moment, I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position and cry.

I couldn’t just carry my daughter out to the car because it’s nearly December and we live in Upstate New York.

But she was melting down and there was no way I could get a coat on her.

I was so embarrassed.

Completely mortified really.

All the pride I feel about rocking widowed parenthood goes out the window and as well as my confidence in my parenting skills.

I am not sure I can show my face in the dance studio again.

In a room full of people, I never felt so alone.

Because that is what widowed parenting is.  Being alone.

I do not have Bryon to take over for me or run interference.

Granted, Bryon and I probably both wouldn’t have both been at dance class but he would’ve have been home, ready to take over when we returned.

And if it he had been out of town for work or at a late night meeting, I could call him and he would make me feel better.  And we could come up with some sort of plan to prevent this from happening again.

But Bryon is not longer here and I am all alone in this.

Sure, my friends who are mothers would be sympathetic but most of them are married and don’t know what it is like to be so frustrated and truly not having any backup.

There is no one else I can turn to.

Because I don’t want to be seen as weak.

When you are a widow, everybody (and their brother) has an opinion on how you live.  Sometimes these judgments are met with offers to help but after I am criticized by someone, the last thing I want to do is accept their help.  Eff that.

I almost didn’t write this blog post because of those people.  Because I am tired of the sh*t but I felt it was more important to share my feelings because there might be another mother (widowed or not) who feels the same way and needs to know she is not alone.

I can take criticism about most things but I don’t feel like opening up myself for criticism for being a widowed parent.  Especially by people who have no clue how hard widowed parenting is.

No one knows how hard it is to do this alone.

For example, I have been told I don’t do enough in relationships.

Seriously.

What do people expect from me?

I am doing the best I can.

I need to be the equivalent of two parents to a child, I work 40 hours a week plus I spent  the past two plus years dealing with grief and processing the loss of Bryon.   And the loss of having a sense of security and the loss of the future as I knew it.

I am only one person.

And I don’t get a day off.

Ball dropping is the norm because my daughter comes first. #sorrynotsorry

People just don’t have a clue.

And yet, for some reason, I feel the need to prove myself to these people.

I constantly feel the need to prove myself.

When Bryon died, several people stated that I wouldn’t be able to stay in New York and raise my daughter by myself.  Thanks for the vote of confidence, a-holes.

Despite what the future holds for me, I am doing okay.  Most days.

My daughter finally calms down enough to put on her coat.  We go outside and she cries because she missed the rest of her class.  Someone walks by and lets out an “awwwww” because she is crying.

I cringe and I am sure I gave that person a dirty look.  She had no clue what I had just gone through.  Though it was dark and I am sure that person did not see my dirty look.

On the drive home, my daughter seems to be back to her normal self but I am not my normal self.

I spend so much time with my daughter that sometimes I forget she is a four year old.

I tend to take her behavior personally.

As if her behavior is a reflection of my inadequacies as a mother- a single, widowed mother.

That her meltdown was because I did something wrong as a mother because if I was a good mother, my daughter wouldn’t have had that epic meltdown.

I find myself saying to her that I didn’t get dance lessons or gymnastics when I was a kid.  Is it even fair to expect a four year old to appreciate that?   And is it her job to validate me because I am overcompensating for things I had wanted in my own childhood?  I am sure the answer to both of those questions is “no”.

When we get home, I park the car and I had my own mini emotional meltdown.

I put my arms up on the steering wheel and I cry.  I bawl.  I hadn’t bawled like that in months. I get teary eyed frequently but I rarely bawl.    The last time I cried like that was last April when I donated my wedding dress.

I question if I should even be crying in front of my daughter.  This goes against my Boston-Irish sensibilities that tell me that the only two feelings I am allowed to express are happiness and anger.

But maybe my daughter should see me express emotion.  I don’t want her bottling up her emotions like I tend to.  Expressing emotions need to be normalized.

I start to feel anger.

I know a lot of widows get angry at their spouse for dying and leaving them.  I have never really gotten mad at Bryon for leaving me.  He didn’t want to die.  He had wanted to live.  I tend to reserve my anger for God and other factors.  If I get angry, it is at the situation.

Then I realize that my anger is really despair.

The despair where I am left just asking “why?”

Why did this have to happen?

Why am I doing this alone?

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

My daughter was supposed to have her mother and father.

I stop crying after a minute or two and my daughter and I go inside.

My daughter is back to normal and inquiring about normal activities.

I needed to sit down for a minute.

During that minute, my daughter manages to find a tube a glitter, opens it and spreads it all over the living room couch.

I feel defeated.

Then there comes the shame.

Shame that I somehow missed any signs of a pending tantrum.

Shame that I wasn’t able to calm her down.

Shame that I melted down.

Shame that even though I try so hard, I still feel like I fall short as a mother.

My daughter gives me a hug and tells me that she loves me.

I love her.

My life is what it is.

But sometimes I still feel broken.