Sunday, January 5, 2014

What to do with Desperate?

Confessions from the dark!  I was recently asked about my biggest struggles with divorce and single parenthood.  My response was without a doubt, trying to figure out ,"what to do with Desperate?" Those were desperate times!  Those were desperate years. I felt desperate for so many things, and at times, those feelings of desperation were just about more than I could bear.  My feelings of desperation were distracting, keeping me from concentrating my energy on the things that mattered most.  Other times, they were overpowering.  And, there were other times when my feelings of desperation became the focus of my day, but not by choice. I tried to ignore "desperate", but she would just keep knocking.  I tried to hide "desperate", but no matter how hard I tried, her evidence in my life was still apparent.  Finally, I decided to feed "desperate", but what do you feed "desperate"?  This is my journey--------- and some of my darkest moments:

Some days I would find myself desperate for normalcy!  One particular time was when my 8 year old was very ill.  He was running a high fever, had no energy and no appetite.  For an 8 year old little boy, that's sick!  I knew he was not feeling good, but I was trying to keep up with my new schedule of work, school, and single parenthood.  It's important to note, that the words "single parent" mean much more that parenting alone.  They mean chauffeur, nurse, maid, cook, tutor, cheer leader, referee, handy-man, chief scheduling officer, secretary, counselor and parent--- ALL ALONE!   So, this one particular day, with my youngest little guy getting sicker and sicker, I called in sick from work, with the incredible anguish that my paycheck would be a day short.  Then, I called my dad to come hang out with my son while I attended class, which I could not miss, and still receive my certification.  On my way home from class, I called the pediatrician.  They said to bring him right in.  So, I ran home, loaded up my son, a blanket, some water, my backpack of homework (just in case we had to wait a while and my little guy fell asleep).  The doctor was concerned about an underlying infection, mono or even a leukemic situation.  He sent us over to the hospital for lab work.  By now, it is about 6:30pm.  I am exhausted.  He is sick. I am concerned.  I call home to give my older kids instructions for dinner and it hits me like a wave from the ocean---- I am "desperate" for normalcy!!  Desperate to just worry about the kids and the home.  Desperate to have a husband home covering dinner and homework while I tend to our sick son.  Desperate to not have my own homework and small paychecks looming overhead and thought.  Desperate for things as they were.  Desperate for normalcy!  I couldn't shake it.  So, I decided to feed it!!!  Perhaps a quick dose of normalcy would feed it enough to leave me alone for a while.  So, that's exactly what I did.   As I began to give those dinner instructions, I thought to myself, "if things were normal as I remembered them, what would I be doing in this situation?"  I would grab dinner on the way home, and just worry about kids for night!  So, I did!  I grabbed Wendy's dollar menu items for everyone, did not worry about the money, that night.  Came home, and we all ate at the bar, laughed and discussed our day.  Then, rather than leave the kids for homework, we all crowded on my bed and watched a movie, with our sick little guy.  That night, things felt normal again, and "desperate" was fed!

There was Father's Day!  As our first Father's Day without a father approached, I found myself desperate for family.  Of course, this was not the only time I felt desperate for family, but this particular time, I still remember.  Should we go to church or not?  Should I talk to the kids about Father's Day or not?  Or, perhaps we should take a day trip, and sort of run away from our new reality.  However, "desperate for family" just would not leave me alone.  So, once again, I decided to feed it!  I invited my parents over for Sunday dinner, to celebrate.  I talked to the kids and told them that Father's Day was coming up.  I prepared them for the talks that Sunday, that might be shared in church about fathers.  I reminded them that though our physical circumstances had changed, they still in fact, had a father.  I put together a gift for them to present to their dad.  Then, we invited him to dinner too!  Though this felt a bit awkward, the kids felt like it was the best thing to do, so I supported them and prepared the meal.   Even all the preparations for the family event, began to feed my desperation for family.  Sunday, Father's Day arrived.  The kids and I went to church and celebrated fathers.  Then, we came home and I put the final details of our Family Meal together and our guests arrived.  Though their father only stayed a little over an hour, that hour was a feast for my desperation for family.  We enjoyed one another's company.  The kids presented their gift to their dad and their grandfather.  We ate.  We laughed.  We talked.  We were family for that moment, and "desperate" was fed.

Then, there was a period of time that I felt desperate for companionship!
 I was just plain lonely!  I know it is probably difficult to imagine that a single mother of 4, and all of their friends, could possibly feel lonely, but I was lonely!  I missed those weekend date nights.  I missed knowing that something social would take place.  I missed having someone to do something with.  I missed grown-up activities.  Desperate for companionship and it seemed to get worse.  I could not figure out how to feed this one.  I was not about to go on a date.  I was not ready for that at all.  I knew I needed to feed it, but how?  Within days I received an invitation from a close girl friend, to attend a work benefit dinner.  She said she could bring a guest and she wondered if I would like to go.  My first reaction was, "No, homework, kids, nothing to wear, I would not be very good company..." then I said "Sure," and surprised myself.   We had been friends for years, and she too, found herself a single mother.  Later that week, I found something to wear and she picked me up.  It was a beautiful event.  She introduced me to her co-workers.  We ate a wonderful meal, listened to a comedian and then a speaker.  As we drove home, I thanked her for inviting me and told her how much I enjoyed just being out.  As I went to bed that night, I realized, desperate for companionship had been fed.

I have realized that we all experience feelings of desperation from time to time.  But, as Families Change, we often find ourselves desperate for things, feelings and people, that are no longer possibilities.  Rather than ignoring my desperate thoughts and feelings, I found that feeding them was the best remedy.  Those feelings are real and normal.  We long to be with someone that is no longer with us.  So, perhaps, we feed that desperation with a walk down memory lane, looking at photo albums, visiting a grave sight or a place that we loved to go together.  As we feed desperation, desperation cannot consume us.  We just need to feed it in healthy and positive ways.   If we are desperate for children---and there are definitely children out there to be loved.  In our neighborhoods, churches, schools and even families.  Maybe we are desperate for normal.  And, perhaps a night of take-out and no worries of homework or money is just the key.  Or, maybe keeping up with a family tradition, like Christmas ice skating, even though Families Change, is the perfect way to feed our desperation for family.  And, I discovered that desperation for companionship is something many of us experience, who have experienced loss, divorce or change.  And, just taking time to spend with people, when the adversary wants you to sulk in sorrow and depression, is a great way to feed such desperation.  I realized that if I did not feed my desperation it was going to consume me.  A true leader is one who gives hope to others, no matter how desperate the situation.  As a mother, I am a leader.  I had four little ones depending on me for hope, and now, I have ten kids looking to me for various types of love, encouragement, guidance and hope.  What to do with desperate?  Creatively feed it in healthy ways, then go on and lift, love and inspire hope, in all those whom we have been blessed enough to be surrounded with! Desperation can lead to inspiration, when we realize it's there, and it is OK. I desperately hope to inspire others by sharing some of my heartache.  For this reason, I share---- What to do with Desperate?


  1. Loved this idea. Rather than fighting it to feed it in positive/ healthy ways.