Last week, with a blue turn-off notice from the electric company in hand, I had to drive down and pay the bill with my kids’ Christmas money. I steeled myself as I opened the door and walked to the desk, apologetic and embarrassed and prepared for the look from the woman at the desk. She was kind and didn’t make me feel worse, and I’m still grateful. It’s been a point of pride to me that I haven’t had to ask my ward for help in the last year, but this was a breaking point.

My home teacher came by to fix the fence that a good samaritan took out when he plowed my driveway earlier this winter. It was an unseasonably warm day, and we stood out in the weak but warm winter sunshine talking over my newly mended fence. He is a kind man, and a former bishop, and his compassion and generosity are legion. It wasn’t long into our conversation before tears were sliding under my sunglasses, down my cheeks and splashing onto my shirt. I told him what I had had to do, and just let my desperation spill and overflow.

He told me a story about his own family, stories most of us have in our histories, about times of need and how help was granted and given with love– only I’m living it right now, and its not padded by the patina of years. Each month I’m supposed to get child support, and frankly, that would make all the difference. But it’s not happening. And each month I’ve been robbing Peter to pay Paul, and it’s caught up with me. He told me my pride was hurting me and not allowing others to bless me- and that I needed to talk to the Bishop on Sunday and let him know. The tears continued to splash on my shirt as I nodded like a child.

Sunday when I visited the bishop, he told me my HT had called him and given the heads-up that I should be stopping by, but to be aware of me if my pride kept me from walking through is door. Safety net in place: check. My bishop took the burden from my shoulders, and I went home and cried. Then I spoke to my X and tried to explain to him that I really needed him to take some responsibility, in whatever way he could, for helping me and the kids. For all my bravado and awareness that I can do hard things, balancing three kids full-time alone and full-time school is wearing me down, and I need some help.

The boys have been acting out terribly, and Abby is being as sweet as she can be, sneaking in to kiss me and tell me she loves me at all hours. I’m not sure which concerns me more… I want my children to be okay. I want my children to be safe and happy and most of the time I think I’m doing a good job. Then something will happen that makes me feel like I just got off a carousel and am dizzy with confusion and can’t find the way up.

Tonight, after a huge melt-down at the Y because he couldn’t make a basket, Bean sat in the back of the car weeping. Jeffrey sat up front next to me with his hood pulled over his face and arm crossed, furious at me for not letting him get Abby from the child-care center, and Abby was kicking my seat because my water bottle was empty. I burst into tears. Dammit, I am trying so hard… and what I can give is just simply not enough for them.

Bean began to wail plaintively, and then we were all crying. One big happy family rolling down the icy roads towards home, which is not really home at all, but a borrowed Little House. As we were pulling into the driveway, Bean says “I don’t like this life mama, I want a different one! I don’t want to live in this stupid house and have you in school and I don’t wanna be sad anymore!” Me too, Bean- this is not what was supposed be, and it just doesn’t matter. Oh the tears… I sat in the driveway, clutching the steering wheel, as they ran in rivers down my face, my shoulders shaking under the weight I must bear.

There were lots of hugs and kisses and sincere prayers in Little House tonight. I gathered my children in my arms, and reassured them this was not going to be forever, and that the whole purpose of this was for me to to be able to take better care of them.

And I don’t have a clue what to do except keep putting one foot in front of the other.

14 thoughts on “Raw

  1. oh Tracy, my heart hurts for you. you are in my prayers daily. know that your kids won’t remember all these moments that are breaking your heart. they will remember that you were their rock and that you were there for them consistently. i know because i was once a child in the same situation as yours. my mom is my hero for all she did. i hope this brings some peace to your heart. i wish i lived closer. love you. A

  2. Still praying. Still putting your name in the temple (I am sure that God knows what I mean when I write Tracy D Mama). For all the hard and difficult and sad, I feel like there must be angels bearing you up just enough. Why must the refining fire be so hot? I wish we could alll physically circle around you with our arms for a hug with skin on it.

  3. The fire must be so hot or it won’t purify. Warm temperatures won’t do the job. — The starving, wicked, and murderous armies of Giddianhi were fierce and terrible, shrouded in battle armament and dyed in blood. The Nephites fell to the earth and prayed mightily to be spared and then ROSE. “The Nephites did not fear them; but they did fear their God and did supplicate him for protection; therefore, when the armies of Giddianhi did rush upon them they were prepared to meet them; yea, in the strength of the Lord they did RECEIVE them.” — You are facing a great and terrible battle against an enemy who seeks to destroy you. But you’re a mama with great strength in the Lord and, with Him, you will prevail, despite the pain and anguish in the doing. You will RISE against this battle because you have prepared yourself to do so. You will RECEIVE this battle because you are strong enough, and the Lord does the rest. — As to letting others serve you, consider it an honor to be the vessel into which they may pour their charity. It is a holy thing to be. I have been there, needing help on every front with six tiny ones in my care. Accepting help is awkward and uncomfortable . . . but it is right.

  4. I had a day like that yesterday, and my situation is not nearly so dire. But my mother told me, in no uncertain terms, that I must keep Graham in my line of sight every waking moment while I live here. I still can’t wrap my brain around how overwhelmed that makes me. It’s justified, considering we’ve had a dozen close-calls in a week…. but is it possible? I am just not enough. Even my best would not be good enough, and who has the energy to give their best every single minute? Inadequacy and guilt seem to be taking the helm in my emotional psyche, and from there everything just spirals into a sticky abyss. While my kids are watching. Blecht.

  5. sometimes its good enough to put one foot in front of the other…you are a remarkable woman and your children are blessed to have you as their mother..

  6. I hope this helps a little but if it offends you instead I am very sorry. That is not my intent. Kids everywhere have bad days all the time. You are the one who is suffering because you want to make their lives perfect. Our lives won’t be perfect here, ever. You are doing a great job with your kids. Don’t let anyone, including them, convince you otherwise. Your water bottle would still get empty even if you were married to the Bishop of your Ward, and Bean probably still wouldn’t have been able to make that basket. All any of us can do is keep on truckin. It won’t be this way forever but it is easy to develop a habit of being unhappy and then you might not recognize when things actually improve.

  7. It will get better in time, which is exactly the last thing you want anyone to tell you I’m sure. In five years time your kids will probably remember these hard moments as the times that their mother held their new fragile family in her arms and lifted them to better things. I don’t know you, but I follow along with your life and I’m grateful that you write so honestly and openly. Keep going Tracey you are doing great, and you can do hard things well!

  8. Being so raw hurts.

    There is no easy way through it… though setting aside pride and allowing others to help does help. Take it from someone who has had to step through the awkwardness of asking and accepting, sheepishly yet gratefully. There are tremendous blessings that come from taking these painful steps.

    Keep on keepin’ on, Tracy. ( Hugs )

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