As I walked to the end of the driveway, the loud crunch of the rocks reminded me of too many restless nights of wandering, always wondering. Though this was a different driveway, the atmosphere was similar enough. This one was shorter and led to a rock road rather than a highway, but the loud, hollow crunch was exactly as I remembered. A streetlight planted at the end made the the stars seem dimmer and less numerous, but they were the same stars. Looking up at them still made me feel small and insignificant.
“Home again. Home again,” I heard a voice whisper, but I still didn’t know what that was.
Self doubt threatened to swallow me on a daily basis. Pouring myself into work kept it at bay, because at least there, I had the respect of my supervisors and co-workers. Wow, I’d finally landed a job after all this time. Me, a stay at home wife and mother for almost 2 decades had landed a full time job. I’d made it through all the grime, smashed fingers and aching muscles to turn a temporary construction job into a permanent position. It wasn’t a great job, but I was making my own money and decisions for myself for the first time since I left all those years ago.
Surely, there was something to be proud of somewhere in there. And I would be for a while, before my mind’s eye widened its focus to consider all that was happening and all that was left to do.
How long does the disorientation last after so much disruption and upheaval? At first, I plowed through the days doing what was necessary. Running on auto-pilot was easy and something I was use to, but when life got too quiet, the confusion would set in again. How did I get here? What am I suppose to do with myself now? What about the kids? They were adjusting well, but we were all dealing with feelings of abandonment and displacement. Did I possess all that was necessary to see them through this?
Feelings of abandonment were as familiar to me as my own face. All my life, it seemed the most important people in my life, even parents had come and gone at their leisure. Most of what I remember of Dad from early childhood is him coming to get my brothers and I for weekend visits and then dropping us off when they over. Eventually, he moved out of state and even those stopped. The eventual phone call had to suffice.
To watch my own children go through something similar made me angry and hurt for them. I wanted to shield them, but couldn’t help but feel I’d failed them. I knew that feelings of parental inadequacy were something many parents struggle with, but for me, they were compounded by feelings leftover from my childhood. It was as if I could see through two different viewpoints at the same time. The whole thing left my mind feeling as if it had just been turned inside out.
I’d always been there for my children, at least I’d tried to be. From the time they were born, I’d been their “primary caregiver” and the constant in their lives. Now the very things necessary to build a new life for us were the very things that pulled me away from them. How could I reassure them that unlike so much in their lives, I would remain?