Not too very long ago, I was in a very different spot. Emotionally, physically, mentally, financially, and even spiritually.
I was drowning. I was fully dependent. I was fearful. I was lost…with nowhere to go. Imagine that feeling, the persistent anxiety with the breath stealing heavy chest. You’re lost, but you have no destination. No funds, no village, drowning.
I was and still am a single mom. I raise two toddlers full time and one eight going on thirty year old part-time.
I made a whirlwind of choices, and each of them had effects. I quit my full time job that was no longer nourishing my soul. I traveled. I saw the exact spot where my mom died. I walked into my biological father’s home (I’ve still yet to meet him.). I took pictures of my sweet baby girl with a giant corn cob. I realized some of my daughter’s magical gifts, and we shared them with strangers. Have you ever been gifted art from a young child you’ve never before set your eyes on, who is insistent that you are indeed the recipient of her pure love? She, in turn, has been gifted hugs, treasures, and bouquets of flowers. And I was her mom. I am her mom. She is mine, and I am hers.
And then, I changed.
She went to live with her dad long term for the first time in her life. The first amount of time was supposed to be two months. During those 2 months, Mommy got to road trip and see amazing things. I’d been a single parent for 3 years. With my parents deceased, close family thousands of miles away, I, unfortunately, was the epitome of parenting alone. She was safe and in a loving environment, and I needed to be Miranda Rose, a woman, not only a mom, for just a tiny fraction of time. When my car broke down and I no longer had extra funds to rely on, two months turned into five. I cried. She cried. We. Cried. She is my family. My home. My heart.
I got my shit together. I found a beautiful roommate with a heart full of gold. Her son filled my void until I found the perfect job making it possible to bring my own baby back into my world.
During this time away from my daughter, I fell head over heels in love. It was a captivating love. He brought me gifts and ravaged me. He sought me, encouraged me. He filled my cup.
And then he drained my cup. Drop, by soul crushing drop. He played with me. My body, my mind, my emotions. He ignited me. He fueled my every thought. I found myself second guessing everything. Why would someone who said you were their soul mate be going on other dates, be ignoring you, and tell you all the ways you were imperfect? I was addicted to both his kindness and his shame, and it was incredibly unhealthy.
I had two children with the man whose love I longed for. It left me broken, financially spent, homeless, and raising three children, alone.
It’s taken me three years to climb out of that hot mess. Most of it was timing. I had to wait. It’s hard to wait when you’re drowning. I had to live with my abusive ex’s parents for almost three years. 3 years of someone always second guessing every decision I tried to make for my intimate family. 3 years of anxiety induced fear, not ever knowing my ex’s next damaging step. Almost 4 years of not enough sleep(full time breast feeding mom to two children). Diapers, tantrums, in sickness and in health, only I was there.
I used to beg for child support. Beg. BEG. I needed diapers, gas, and food. The state of Illinois had me backed into a corner where I could work all day long, morning and night, and not see my children ever, or I could work enough hours to make $500/month in order to still qualify for a childcare subsidy. With the child support that eventually got settled in court in addition to $500/month I still would not have made enough to survive on. Raising my babies instead of paying someone else to do it was incredibly important to me. I will never be able to rewind their infancy. So I survived with food stamps. With a part time nanny job. With a $900 car that lasted me 2 moves and a year of driving 10 hours every other weekend. I was isolated in a town knowing noone but my childrens’ family, but I made it.
I scoured Craigslist and the local online ads daily. My children finally were old enough to be away from my breast, literally. My youngest wouldn’t take a bottle. She was completely dependent on me. I was depleted. I found an ad looking for kitchen help from a local restaurant I’d always felt attracted to. I replied with my own job offer. After email tag and phone interviews, I landed a face to face interview with the owner of a local farm to table restaurant. I was hired on the spot.
On the way to my second day of work, my $900 car shot the shit. I didn’t have local daycare. They were all full or out of my price range. I went in the red driving over two hours a day for two months, dropping my children off at one of my only two local friends’. I had to borrow cars and feel even more indebted to those already giving me a home and place to lie my head. So much guilt, and still yet, no way out.
I fell in love all over again. With gardening. With finally seeing and interacting with other adults, again! With the beauty that manifests in flower bouquets, and watching people’s faces light up as I tell them an intimate story or fill their palate and plate with fresh farm food. I was able to fill my cup by being away from my children, and in turn, fill theirs because I am finally able to be more present for them now, because more of my needs are being met.
I live in my own home. I pay my own bills. I worked my way up the ladder, and I now have a living wage. I love my job, and I love my life. I’m human with human needs. I often get lonely with no other adult to share my life with, but I’m not the same Miranda I was three years ago, and I’m damn proud of who I’m continuing to learn to be.