But A Wide Mercy is a part of me. I miss it. The world has changed so much that I’m not sure we even need blogs anymore. But I need to write, need to share, need to show up here and wander through my stories until I find the trace of Divinity I’ve been digging around for all along. I need the experience of blogging, even if no one else needs to read.
It isn’t just that the world has changed. I’ve changed too. Each new layer to my life feels so unseemly, in the moment, that I’ve shushed all of the bubbling words around it. As a result, I’ve taken an unintentional Vow of Silence, in an effort to keep everyone else comfortable. It’s terrible for my soul. So. I’m going to write about the things that are a part of my actual life, not just the life I used to have. My world has expanded, so I’m expanding this little corner of the Internet to include where and how I live now.
I used to write about grace in parenting, comfortable marriages, and liturgy.
Only now, I’m divorced. Single parenting is shaping me in ways I never dreamed. I’m using muscles that have atrophied from years of being half of a whole. All of the things someone else used to do for me and my kids – they’re now my responsibility. Which is exhausting, and difficult, but also freeing and empowering. I’m much stronger than I ever dreamed I was. And to be honest, in some ways, single parenting is easier than the constant negotiations and compromises of marriage. But I’ve also become invisible – in church and in community life, nobody is quite sure what to do with a single mother. And I think that’s worth talking about. I’m going to stop agreeing with the world single parenting is best left as a secret, and sharing more about my real, actual 3D life here.
Also, my mother died a little over a year ago. The first night we all huddled together, dazed and fearful, my dad asked us not to talk about how she died in public. I honored his request as long as I could. He had good, honorable reasons for it. I don’t resent him for asking. But there’s a shelf life on secrecy, and mine has expired. My mother committed suicide. She was a beautiful, lovely, fascinating person, and even the end of her life is marked more (in my opinion) by her determination to live on her own terms than any kind of desperation or self-hatred. We need to talk more about that. I need to talk more about that. So expect more conversation around suicide, loss, and mothering without my mom here. (Are you squirmy yet? Is this too heavy? Too MUCH? I understand. It’s too much for me too. Feel free to click away. But I don’t have that luxury, and Vows of Silence only work in monasteries).
Last, you guys need to know something about my family. I have a child with high functioning autism. For the past year I’ve been doing all the things mothers of children with special needs to – tracking down referrals, scheduling visits with specialists, filling out developmental histories, trying to uncover what, exactly, is going on with my child – but I’ve done it mostly in silence. I don’t know why. No, I do know. Because a pedestal is a lonely place. Autism Moms have a persona that, frankly, I just didn’t want. I’m not a fighter. I love gluten. I don’t have the patience of Job – I actually feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and uncertain more days than not. I just didn’t want one more label that made my life seem so different from everyone else. It was a form of denial, couched in concern for my son. I said I wanted to respect his privacy, but since learning of his diagnosis, my son has told everyone standing still he has autism. It’s an oxygen tank for him, pure relief. So really my silence was for me. I didn’t want one more reason for people to say “I don’t know how you do it” or “You’re Super Woman!” I’m not Super Woman, or Super Mom. I’m Plain Old Mom, trudging through another day, slowly expanding into the person my family needs me to be. Children with special needs don’t get special parents. Rather, plain old people get the kid they get, and then – just like you – we all grow into the parents our children need us to be.
This is my life right now. I’m a single mom. My mom is gone, in this violent, unexpected, yet not completely hopeless way. One of my children has autism. And the others keep growing, needing, changing, shifting, just like me. Their souls are expanding, making room for their experiences, just as mine is. I didn’t choose the directions my life would take, I just chose to keep walking, keep stretching my neck to see over the hilltop, keep searching for enough grace to make it to bed time.
I’ve kept all of this offline for over a year. But I need to write to fully experience my life. I don’t fully know what I think or how I feel until I write it down. So I’ll start here, mid-sentence, post-tragedy, weird and messy and unseemly as it is. If I haven’t run you off yet, you’re welcome to follow along.