When I discovered I was pregnant with my son, the moment was celebrated with an underlying sigh. The celebration was in order because I don’t have any idea how many times I’d been pregnant. I’d lost count after ten, and the miscarriages became sooner and more expected. Finally, I quit even naming the baby, the way most mothers do when pregnant, and waited for the day I lost my infant again. This time, I had a feeling everything was different—and I was right.
One aspect that had changed was that now I was single. My husband and I couldn’t work out our relationship, and I caved into being alone until Cameron was born after my divorce. Unhappy with my selection to keep the baby, his father received surgery to ever having the situation occur again and left. But I was happy.
Four years later, attending school full-time, working full-time, and dating a mysterious man behind “Coke-bottle glasses,” I got pregnant again. Even though I repeated the same rejection of Prince Charming suggesting abortion and my denying the process, this time, it was different. Sure, he skipped off to prevent any further pregnancies through a procedure. I seemed to have that effect on men. But the car accident the morning I dropped Cameron off to school, at seven months pregnant, undid my whole world.
I thanked God my baby girl was safe after the chiropractor straightened her neck out. But as my spine returned to its original position, the light shone on facts that my back wasn’t able to support me correctly. Two herniated and a ruptured disk were at fault. Unable to stand or sit for extended periods, I was unable to work or attend school any longer. My children and I were rendered homeless and alone.
With help from a shelter for a few months, we located a place to live and struggled for normalcy. Being normal was hard to do. I used a cane and couldn’t even carry a gallon of milk by myself. Sometimes I couldn’t get out of the car after I arrived at the store and drove back home without food because the pain refused to release long enough for me to drape myself over the handle of the cart and push it.
I located a university online that would allow me to attend class either sitting, standing, or lying down, as long as I turned in the work. I was making progress at an extremely slow pace, but it was in the correct direction and sometimes that has to be enough.
One day, I couldn’t breathe, much less move without excruciating pain. My son was visiting his father who jumped back into the picture, and my little girl called the ambulance. When they arrived, they rushed me to the hospital for my appendix. My daughter saved my life! Not only that but either the doctor had mercy and snipped my nerve, or the stars were aligned because my back pain was instantly gone. I could walk pain-free again.
When the day came to graduate, I stood tall in my cap and gown, diploma and Advanced Achievement Award in my hand breathing a sigh of relief. I had done what so many deemed implausible. I had graduated with 3.7 average, president of a club, with two overachieving children. Now that my education was behind me, I could do anything! Most of all, I could prove to my children the difference an education can make in my life.
I set out right away for the company whose threshold I would bless with my presence. Unfortunately, because I hadn’t worked for years on end and the three positions I tried to work with my back messed up didn’t pan out, no one would hire me. Despite my high marks on my transcripts, the times I went without eating or celebrated because I got out of bed without wetting myself first, didn’t account for anything. I was a high-risk hire and no one in his right mind wanted me.
Two kids, a car with an inspection due, a resume no one would touch (including temporary agencies), all hope seemed lost. I bawled ‘til the point I was sick—literally. My head screamed for days, I was dizzy, couldn’t hold a thought, and all I kept thinking was how I was going to make ends meet on a total of $1,200 in child support this month. I had no idea.
I sunk into a speechless shell for days, droning about my apartment. I would turn in between ten and twenty resumes every single day with one or two days off alternating weeks, unable to sleep. I honestly received more automated calls inviting me to invest money than I got from a personal acquaintance or employment questions. The well had run dry.
Yesterday, I broke down and decided to spend $1.32 for three ice cream cones. We deserved a break. Along the way, we passed a park. The grass was as green as a golf course, butterflies flitted above, and dogs played with the children across the lawn. “Let’s go to the park, Mom,” my son suggested. I shook my head. I needed to get back and apply at more positions. They say time is money, and I know that’s right. I had neither. “Please!” my daughter begged.
I honestly don’t know what happened. Someone else grabbed the wheel of the car and steered it right to the park where I pulled over. We smiled and ate ice cream walking on the paved path surrounding the park. When the ice cream was gone, my daughter leaped onto my son’s back and cinched her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck. “Let’s go, boy!” she hollered before he took off at a gallop.
Time stood still for a moment while I watched them twirl in slow motion, laughing and poking at each other as they rolled on the grass. They raced back and forth across the width of the park, uphill and down, arriving out of breath. Cameron took a seat beside me, and Nikki breathed in deeply, bracing her hands on her knees while she huffed, “C’mon, Mom. (breathing heavily) Race me before I get my breath back.” After some prodding, she won and I accepted the challenge.
I won the race, only because she allowed me to, and I wet my pants. But I was laughing and happy. I had run, and I hadn’t done that for nearly a decade. Nikki may have been the fastest, but in the end, it was me who had won. I had my kids. And just because the well doesn't have water doesn't mean it's empty. There's something in its place. Sometimes I need to appreciate the blessings that are not so obvious. With my wet pants, I laughed and hugged my kids. “Race you to the car,” my daughter said before taking off. Of course, I followed.