Monday, May 6, 2013

Me, Honestly: Day Six

5/1 - The past three months have been spent in a total funk and it’s time to come out. 
Last night I spent a few hours with an incredible, inspiring friend, who saw something in me worth fighting for.  I hate to say I didn’t think I was worth the trouble, but at that point, I didn’t.
So as I tweeted yesterday, I am spending the next seven days examining my core as a means to move forward.   I’m doing it question by question.
I wrote some stuff I might be okay to answer, then started over.  Then I thought about what I absolutely don’t want to discuss, and that’s what you’ll see below.  I humbly give you Me, Honestly.

Why do you Think your Daughter Deserves Better than You?
People who know me get a healthy dose of her updates every day.  If she learns a new word, masters a new skill, or does absolutely nothing, they will hear about it.  Once she sneezed and I was tempted to take a picture of it—it was the cutest snot-gobble I’d ever seen.
I worship my daughter.
I also think I’m failing her, and yes, I think she deserves better than me.
My pregnancy was stressful to say the least.  Financial problems, a failing marriage and a stressful job all worked together to do all but defeat me.
Still, when I felt like I could take no more, a tiny thump against my side reminded me I had to.  Even before she was born, she was the one keeping me strong.
Fast forward.  As we approach her second birthday, her life is anything but traditional.  He father and I are now apart and awaiting South Carolina’s mandatory one-year separation period.  I have full-time work, but needed a better income.  So in February, I decided to do something I’ve questioned every day since: I asked for help.  I didn’t ask for money.  I asked for space.
I was already wary of her being in daycare for so many hours.  But I knew I would need additional work if I wanted us to be comfortable in the years leading to my completion of Art School (which I start in the Fall.)  Doing any extra work, either from home or elsewhere, would have meant more sitters, more money, and more time Camille spent away from her family and I.  I didn’t want that.  So instead, I asked her grandmother to take care of her and let me visit, so I could find more work and save what I could.  It’s been a few months since then and I am finally starting to see some fruits of that decision.  But while I’m out promoting Pure Romance and honing these writing skills, she’s hours away, and that kills me.
I talk to her each night, either by phone or video.  Every time, she sounds more grown up than the night before.   In the time since she’s left me, she’s learned to sing the alphabet, started potty training, and now draws on her toy chalkboard—with both hands!  She pedals bikes, feeds her bunnies, knows her favorite foods and asks for them by name.
She’s growing up.  Without me.  And while I know she is doing fine, my guilt is overwhelming.
I knew the divorce was eminent.  Soon she would have only one parent under the roof.  I never imagined she’d have neither of us full-time.  I feel guilty, selfish, and irresponsible.  What horrible decisions had I made to create this situation?  What kind of mother would allow her child to stay with anyone else for this long?  How long until I toughen up and get her, since clearly this all stemmed from me being weak-minded? 
Yes, this is Ideal talking.  She believes (and many others, too) that nothing about parenthood is easy.  The work won’t do itself, the money won’t make itself, and the child won’t raise herself.  I argue that I’m working around the clock for little or nothing up-front just to establish my name and build a foundation.  I feel I’ve made great strides.  But where is my child?  She’s the missing piece and without her, none of this matters.
To their credit, her family has done more than I’d hoped to support me.  It feels incredible to know that there is someone I can call on when I can’t be there, who adores her, and who knows her as well as I do.  Had it not been for them, nothing I’m doing now would have been possible.
Still, please believe I am chugging coffee #4 as I type this, and will continue writing and promoting my business until my hands fall off.  I will work myself into the ground just to get her back—and comfortable.  It’s arguable, but I know that with a little more time, I can do that much more for the both of us than if I got my head just above water and went for her.  I go back and forth over it daily, but ultimately I do what’s best for the long-run, and that’s a stable home with a mom who has the option to be with her whenever, because she works for herself—nobody else.
She’s probably eating dinner now, and it’s probably her favorite – veggie pasta alfredo with chicken.  She’ll wash up and I’ll call to say good night.  She’ll go to sleep, and I’ll cry.  Then, back to work.
I struggle with it, but believe that in time I’ll find a healthy balance in how I feel about what I’m doing.  Regardless of what I do, ultimately it is for her.  And for her, I’d do anything.