Count to Five


I closed the door of the van and the sobs just burst out of me. It was irrational. I knew that. I was sobbing because I had needed to ask for help and I received it—with smiles and quick assurances that it was fine. But the fact that I needed it had brought the grief in new waves.

Tonight was one of those nights. Heck, this week is one of those weeks. Tonight Jarod has play practice from 3:40 until 6:30. Lucy gets home at 2:50. At 3:10, Ryan is due home. Kati, however, has dance club practice at school from 3:10 until 4:15. At 3:30 I needed to head to work to record radio show for the next three days and get home before 5 so that I could get Kati, Lucy, and Ryan back to the middle school for Family Night and to view the Science Fair Kati was so proud to show off. It gets done at 6:30, in time to go get Jarod.

That left Lucy, age 5, as a wild card after school. Ryan, the only one who will be home and my child with autism, cannot babysit his sister. They aren’t comfortable around each other. Neither seems to know what to do with the other in more than small, structured doses. So Kati, 11, volunteered to keep Lucy with her at dance club practice since the high school girls were coming to teach them the moves today.

I felt somehow ashamed to have to call the gym teacher, her adviser for this club, and ask if this was an acceptable solution. Lucy had jumped on the idea. My first instinct was to take her to work. But that really is no fun for her and would prolong what I had to do if my focus was split. Mrs. Jackson was so kind when she said Lucy was more than welcome to come watch. She’d had other families need to do this before. It seemed all worked out.

After school, Lucy gathered her crayon tote and a few snacks. She excitedly bounded to the van. As we drove up to the school, she asked if their phones worked the same as ours. Since I would be leaving her in the office for Kati to retrieve, she wanted to help answer phones. It was adorable. The secretaries thought so too. They were so happy to see smiling Lucy and told me there was no need for me to wait with her—they had this. Kati would be called to retrieve her in about 10 minutes. In the meantime, they would enjoy Lucy. “Tell your mom she can go,” they whispered to Lucy, with a smile aimed at me.

As I walked to the van, the feeling just rolled over me, startling in it’s intensity. It was anger and humility and sorrow all rolled up in one. I was mad that I had to ask for this help. I felt like I was somehow failing that I could not figure this out on my own. I was angry that my husband wasn’t here to help with all this. And I missed my partner all over again. As soon as the door closed, I buried my hands in my gloves and sobbed.
But only for a moment.

Wallowing is not allowed when you are grieving with children who need to be cared for and shuttled about. When you have to go pick up a kid and keep this chaos moving. I felt like the character Tris in the popular book “Divergent” allowing herself to be terrified, to let fear consume her, but only to the count of five. I let myself sob.
1 – Feel the sorrow and let that be ok. 
2 –Cry, uncaring who might see in the school parking lot.
3- Be angry that I have to figure this out without Kraig.
4 – Wipe your eyes.
5 – Take a deep breath.Count my blessings. My child was welcomed because we are loved at this school. My extra help was gladly given with smiles by people who care about me, about my kids. I have seen the payoff of years of developing relationships in a school full of hard stories.

This is how I grieve when the kids need me to keep moving forward.

I’m so tired of grief. It is exhausting and sometimes sleep eludes me which doesn’t help. But I know I can’t rush through this. I don’t want to because I know if I did, I might have to go through it again. I will let the feelings come. I will let the tears and sobs choke out when they need to—but only for a moment. Moms do not have the luxury of stopping moving entirely.

Today I had the blessing of support from a gracious teacher and kind school secretaries. And even though it sucked that I need it, I am wise enough to ask for it and humble enough to accept it. I am smart enough to know that this was offered in love and in an effort to assist me.

One more day of dealing with grief done. One more night of figuring out how to parent alone done. Here’s hoping for a good night’s sleep tonight. Tomorrow is a new, chaotic day.

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