of being a single mum.
A Child's Unexpected Words have Profound Effect
I was a newly divorced mom of a young child.
Being a single mom of a five-year-old boy had its own set of hardships, but the situation was made even worse by my loneliness. I was overworked, overstressed, and had no time for myself. And contrary to what I believed would happen, no relationship materialized to "save" me from my difficult and frustrating life.
When my son was with his dad, I missed my son terribly. But when my son was with me, I was thinking about all the work I should be getting done but couldn't because I was too busy taking care of him. I wasn't actually "with" him. I was too upset about my lot in life to really enjoy our time together, so I would take my frustrations out on him. I yelled at him for any little thing, even though he was only five and didn't know any better.
One day after a particularly trying afternoon of yelling, he looked at me, and in a matter-of-fact voice, said, "Why are you so mad?" He didn't ask, "Why are you so mad at me?"—he merely wanted to know why I was mad in general. There was no accusation, no hurt in his voice, just the simple question. And in that moment, I realized that even my five-year-old could discern what I could not—that I wasn't really mad at him, I was just mad at life.
That was a wake-up call I will never forget. How this young child could have a moment of such clarity, could pierce my soul to not only see what was wrong, but point it out to me, was a revelation. My eyes opened and my own cares fell away as I knelt down and held my son to me with tears in my eyes. All that mattered in that moment was him. His needs, his wants. Taking the time to see him, be with him, and enjoy our time together. I was completely missing out, and I didn't even realize it. He did.
I have never forgotten that incident or the lesson I learned from it. It serves to remind me that all that really matters is the here and now. It's so easy to get caught up in the regrets of the past and the worries about the future, completely forgetting that the present is where we live our lives.
The past is a teaching tool. There is no point in getting caught up in regret for what has been or what could have been, because it can't be changed. We are not meant to dwell on it. We are meant to take what lessons we can from the past, learn from our mistakes, and move on. This means letting go of the pain and accepting what has been. That may not happen overnight, but the longer we dwell on the past, the longer we take to heal from it.
As for the future…it makes no sense to worry about a future that may never be. We can drive ourselves crazy with "what ifs" and unfounded fears, but all we can really do is project the future we want based on the life we live today. Our decisions today should be based on our enjoyment of the things we have in our present. When we appreciate what we have (in my case, my beautiful son) instead of dwelling on what we don't have (a marriage, an intact family), we can see and appreciate the blessings of each day.
When we appreciate, we practice gratefulness, which makes our lives that much fuller. When we live in the moment, we don't see the past, don't see the future, we just see what is right in front of us. Had my son not jolted me into the present with his profound words, I could have missed his younger years altogether. I might have been there physically, but those years would have passed right by me, unnoticed, until the day I woke up and realized they were gone. Instead, I relished those younger years. I can say we enjoyed life and enjoyed each other, and even though he's almost a teenager now, we still do.
All because of those inspired words spoken to a broken, unseeing mom when he was five. Those words were a gift I will always remember.
Susan Borowski is a freelance writer who lives in Appleton, Wisconsin with her 12-year-old son, one cat, two gerbils, and assorted fish.
See her blog at http://hopeandrelevance.wordpress.com/ and her tweets @Muser_of_life.