Friday, September 19, 2008

Single parenting... Survival... Holy crap.


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I have an active imagination. Ever since I was small, I have imagined terror and trouble, just to see what I would do...

8 years old, in church: "If TIGERS escape and come in here, in church, how will I escape? Could I climb up the altar? Could I then jump to the lights? Could I hang there until rescue came?"

Another scenario, albeit a similar one: "If a FLOOD came into church, how will I escape?" etc....

Sometimes even moral implications and consequences would enter my pondering:

"What will happen to my family? Will I save them? Will I even try? Or will I just scramble to my own safety?"

It would while the hours of mass away. Which was essential, considering I went to mass six days a week.

My penchant for bad fantasies has stayed with me all my life. I once read an interview with Mary Steenburgen, where she said she used to think she was insane, because she daydreamed about horrible things happening to her and her family. Then, when she was studying Meisner (an acting technique), she realized she was just an actor.

Lately, since I got married, my fantasies have primarily been about my husband leaving my life. Never, ever my son leaving my life - there I do not wander. Ever. Some places are unimaginable, even for bad fantasy time.

But my husband - he leaves a number of ways. Sometimes he dies. A pleasant, peaceful death, that's over before he or anyone knows it. Sometimes he just disappears. Sometimes I leave him.

No matter how he goes, the fantasy is pretty much the same - I grieve and grow wise through my grieving, maybe I even write a book about it, and I become a noble, wise, spunky single parent. I am Finn's friend, his mommy and his daddy. Somehow, inexplicably, I am 35 again. We explore the world, I make lots of money (somehow), I buy a little home for us (huh?), and eventually I meet my soulmate who becomes the best second dad for Finn that you could ever imagine - a sweet, calm, quiet, giving, smart, generous, patient, saintly kind-of-fellow, a guy who's a world away in temperament from my current bipolar bear.

and I drift off to sleep thinking - "Yeah. I will survive...hey, hey..." as Gloria Gaynor echoes in my head.

And now - NOW. Oh Good Lord, NOW - I am going to get to actually practice.

My husband is leaving.

Not for good, and not for bad. Actually - let me be clear with my language.

He is leaving FOR GOOD. He's leaving to go back to Seattle to work with old friends, and make a lot of money for us, his family, and regain a bit of his soul, hopefully. And then he is coming back here, to us, in San Diego. (note - I did not say "home." Since none of us are at all sure where that is.)

He is coming back. That's the plan. After a MONTH. FOUR WEEKS.

I work. I work full-time, at a job that will grow increasingly demanding over the next four weeks. There are many graces - we are an office of women, half of us mothers, and I am the boss of me. There is no one to hover or disapprove. I can bring Finn, I can leave early to get him from daycare, I can do many things -

and I have daycare, thankfully, at Finn's beloved preschool. I don't know if he'll love daycare as much as school, but it's in the same place - that has to count for something in his affections. I hope.

And I can ask for babysitting. I have one person I can ask. Maybe I'll find more.

It's just that I will be the ONE. I will be the ONE who drives him to school, goes to work, then picks him up from school; the ONE who takes him grocery shopping to the park and on errands and the ONE who makes his breakfast and dinner and the ONE who brushes his teeth and puts him to bed - I will be the ONE doing this, while at work I will be the ONE artistic directing the whole shebang.

I am terrified. I suspect that I will not be noble, or wise. I'm pretty certain that I will not wake up and find myself 35 again. I'm afraid of the new map of furrows that will arise on my already weary face. And I know, in my heart, that I may shriek more than I laugh.

Now, without being the ONE, I barely keep my head above water. I paddle along, breathing hard, until I fall into bed at night. How will I paddle for two?

My only consolation is that I will be alone, after Finn goes to sleep. I will not have my husband here to help (him helping me) - but I will also not have my husband here to help (me helping him). I'll be alone - and that may be a blessing. His troubles brew large, much of the time. He takes up a lot of psychic space, my bipolar bear.

So maybe the respite from his worries will compensate, a bit, for being Finn's ONE.

Or maybe I'll just die.

Mary Steenburgen would understand.

1 comment:

  1. Seriously...the fantasy thing just came from my head onto your paper. I have, in my fantasies, saved us all from sinking ferries, figured out how to scavenge for food when camping and the car would not re-start, solved all of those creepy issues like what would I do if one of my neighbors pet tarantulas came into the house and many other crazy, hope they never happen, scenarios. You know the chandelier that hangs above the Baptismal font at the Cathedral in Toledo on Cherry? I figured that I could swing up into that with at least one small child and wait out the 40 days/40 nights flood until there was enough water to swim out the upper stained-glass windows. That alone is why we are usually prepared!