I'm tired. I've been tired before. Hospital tired, childbirth and new mother tired, world weary tired, scared tired, and just sleepless tired. I'm a kind of tired now that I'm afraid might not go away. I'm trying to do right tired. I'm lucky. Privileged. So fortunate. I know this and I don't want to overlook it. But I'm also still tired. Is it because I want recognition for trying to do right? Is it just growing up tired? Is it afraid I'll never be safe from all the things I'm afraid of tired? Is it all of those tireds put together? I don't know. But I used to be 'wake up every day ready to take it on'. And I'm not now. My trust, my faith, my effort, and my belief that it might ever pay off are all tired. Let's go ahead and knock those kinds of tired on their ass, because there's a lot of work to be done.
In just a few hours, I get to hop on a plane and go to one of my favorite places with some of my favorite people and join my favorite son (there's only the one, don't judge) and then bring him back home for the next chapter. I've spent almost three months completely on my own for the first time in my adult life. It was hard. In all of the ways I expected it to be, and in a lot that I didn't. I'm glad that I did it, for him and for me. After the initial phase of having no idea how to spend my time with no breathing treatments and tube feedings and homework and discipline and no one to tuck in, and questioning whether I did my very best at all of those things, I had a whole lot of time to think. A. Whole. Lot. And to realize- not that I didn't know- but to really come back to center and focus on what it is I want out of life. And for possibly the first time, truly strategize on how I'll get there. And things crystallized for me in that time. The things I spend a lot of time talking about and worrying about are truly not the things most important to me. The things I spend my days doing, ARE. And on that note, I am ready. I am ready for a couple more semesters of chaos and stress before another entirely new set of stressors and superficial worries take over. But I have a vision that I've never had before. It doesn't focus on romantic relationships or even friendships, as much as they sustain me, or how much someone thinks I'm great. It focuses on achieving real goals for myself and how they'll benefit myself and the one child I still have under my roof. (And by proxy, the beloved one who I do not.) I'm so, so ready in that regard. I'm probably still going to stress and complain here and there, try as I might not to.
And as ready as I am, I'm still tired. I'm tired of hoping to prove that my heart is good enough, that I'm smart enough, that I am qualified enough, and whatever other valid but ridiculous things I feel I need to prove to any and everyone who might be watching. And I realize that that strong desire to be recognized for what I am doing is also vain and selfish. But man, I'm just like you, and I just want to do right, and I want people to know I'm doing right. I'm going to have to learn to balance that, and sometimes let it go, while also continuing to listen.
Being the mom of a kid with scary medical stuff, sometimes you get recognition you feel like you don't necessarily deserve. Because in your position, who would do differently? Surely the answer is that some folks do, but most folks would work just as hard and do just as much, often more, because ...well, that's just what you do. Right? And when there comes criticism where you're used to getting praise, it's uncomfortable. It's also inevitable. How do we learn to balance listening and not living to please? Yeah, don't ask me. I'm unbalanced in that regard.
So, tomorrow (or rather, later today), starts a new chapter in an old book. And in the end, what I hope to find is not praise or criticism, but some sort of solid faith in myself and my actions, that I'm on the right path and doing the right things to really believe in myself and know that I'm doing my best for what matters, and it will lead, with a little- ok, a lot- of luck, to the kind of life I hope to give my kid, and myself.
I've had enough of selfish introspection. It's a good thing I had the chance to do it. I do think it made me better. I KNOW it did. But I'm ready to get back to work on the life that doesn't look like I though it would, but I definitely chose for myself. I love that life, as challenging and tiring as it may be. I'll be thrilled to be reunited with J. I'll be tired again with the struggles that life brings soon enough. But I hope that I don't forget what I learned in the time by myself, and I hope that no matter what kind of tired I am, I don't forget what it's like to be left without the struggles that I want most in life.