I am waiting for Kaylen’s bus to come. She is the last of the four K’s to get out the door every morning.
I want her bus to hurry up so i can come back inside and have a good cry…the kind that i know will leave me unable to breathe through my nose and make me look like i’ve gone ten rounds in a prize fight from puffy eyes and cheeks. I want to let all of this emotional energy out because i feel very drained and very much like a failure and very much like I have no idea what i’m going to do right now. So yes, crying seems like the best most logical activity in the face of what I need to do today.
I want to make a huge cup of coffee to warm me up but i remember that i had to throw out my special vanilla caramel creamer last night and it is not worth it to drink black coffee.
She announces that she sees her bus down at the third stop so she prepares to head out the door and I glance up to see a sign I recently placed on the wall: “Tune my heart to sing Thy Praise”.
The tears well up a little in my eyes as I hug and kiss Kaylen goodbye.
I am not singing the praise of anyone right now.
I am a single mom now. I am doing it. I paid bills yesterday. Like a real responsible adult. I don”t have the words to tell you yet exactly what that represents to me, means to me, how it feels to be able to do that for my babies.
I take the garbage out and i separate the recycling and I fix the door handles and I do the laundry and I check the homework and I do all the medical stuff for Kendall and I do all the driving back and forth for youth group and volleyball and social activities and I am both mom and dad now and holy crap this is really really really hard. I don’t have anyone to tap out with now, no tag team partner, no one to even threaten “if you don’t straighten up I’m calling your dad!” There is only me, pleading with them to please please please just try to understand that i’m doing the best I can and that I know I’m failing to be both mommy and daddy well but if they can just accept mediocre then i promise i’ll be better at it soon.
Until last night, when i finally get to go have a little time to myself and eat something for dinner, and I heat it up in the microwave and go to grab a coke and i realize it is warm. And then I realize everything is warm. And I check the freezer and there is half rotten meat and melted ice cream and soggy pizzas in puddles of melted various kid experiments and biscuits that are starting to rise from the humidity of a very broken refrigeration process. I instantly scan my brain for some file named “what to do when the fridge is deader than a doornail” and come up with nothing. Think, terra, think. This is all you now, there is no one more in charge than you. YOU are in charge and you have to fix this. So I try to move the fridge out from the wall so I can, I dont know, unplug it and plug it back in because i don’t know how to fix refrigerators that are failing to do their ONE JOB and keep my crap cold so maybe this will help. But the fridge will not budge. It is probably glued in place from a couple years of melted chocolate ice cream and a multitude of other gross stuff I do not wish to think of or see right now. I cannot move the stupid fridge and i am feeling more and more like a weak failure by the second. How can i not move this fridge? Ben could do it. This was his job, He moved the fridges and I….what did I do? It doesn’t matter right now because right now I have to move this fridge and i cannot. No matter where i try to get a hold of it, I cannot grab it enough to put my weight into it.
Just then he calls, this man who has become my best friend by simply just showing up when he’s needed the most, and i answer the phone and say ” I cant make it move, I don’t know how to fix this.” He says he will be over in a few minutes and he turns his car around from being almost home after a long day of work and he comes to my house. He pulls the fridge out and (I am horrified by the utterly gross mess back there and don’t want him to see it) we pull the plug and wait a little bit and plug it back in and nothing. I go downstairs and reset the breaker, still nothing. I find a manual of “troubleshooting your kenmore elite bottom freezer” and i am ready for it to tell me something easy that will fix my problem but it is full of helpful hints like “make sure your fridge is not in demo mode” and “try turning the temperature down if the food isn’t cold enough” and i want to swear at this stupid book that isn’t revealing the answers i need. I become convinced that if i could just remove the control panel, some little LED light thing will show me what is wrong. He obliges my idiotic request even though he knows i know about as much refrigeration control panels as he knows how to apply airbrushed foundation and a nice smokey eye which is to say that neither of us has a clue. It becomes apparent once the fridge is out that the compressor unit is not even attempting to make noise. I do not know a lot about this stuff but I know this is bad. And this man is sweeping up the cat hair and miscellaneous detritus of life behind and under the fridge and I am standing in front of my fridge calculating how many hundreds of dollars that i don’t have it is going to cost me to replace all this food for my babies. He calmly opens up a large black garbage bag and tells me to start throwing it away and i look at him with tears in my eyes and say “i’m too tired. I’ll do it tomorrow. I will deal with all this mess tomorrow.” He reaches past me and pulls out a yogurt and throws it in the bag. And another. I begin to follow suit. Both of us reaching and throwing. Everything, everything. I am a food hoarder. My grandma who survived the Great Depression taught me well. Save and use everything. This is wasteful. This is hard. This needs to be done. Has to be done. Eggs, cheese, lunch meat….in the bag. Coffee creamers, milk, juice….in the bag. It takes almost an hour to just clear out all the jars and pull the drawers and shelves out. We do the freezer next and it is easier to throw this stuff away because it is all just one melty mess and i am gagging at it and i know he wants to but he stays calm and stoic and holds the bag open while i toss and purge and whine. We move to the sink where we both find a catharsis in tossing eggs into the disposal and hearing the satisfying crunch.
I think we have done a good job and can call it a night now but he tells me to get the bleach and bring the sticky shelves and drawers outside. i do not feel like cleaning up this much, I do not see the point in it. I want to sit on my couch and drink the last of the only cold drink in my house alone and drown my sorrows in it. But no, we are now scrubbing shelves and drawers and wiping ou
t the inside of the fridge that i am in awe and shock a little at how it could really be THIS dirty and why does it take me four hundred trips and two rolls of paper towels to soak up all the water from the bottom of the freezer??? But we do it. We get it cleaned up. My fridge looks brand new. It is super sanitized. And it will likely never work again. A quick google search reveals that at this point, fixing the compressor will likely cost almost half as much as the fridge did, and we only have this fridge because of the amazing generosity and kind heart of my in-laws a few years ago when our oven blew up after Kendall’s make a wish trip and we had to replace everything. I am back to wanting to cry but now it is bedtime. Finally.He helps me load all these heavy bags of yucky food into his truck and he takes them away because he knows i will have a cat or a raccoon or some other catastrophe occur if all this rottng food is left in my garage all week. He will drive until he finds a dumpster to put it all in. He is a good person and I am so lucky to know him.
I wake up to the reality that I have no way of feeding my children breakfast except for oatmeal and some pastry thin things i found in the back of the pantry. they are all looking to me to be able to fix this because well, that’s my job now and i try to reassure them i will figure it out today and i will find a way to have food for them again.
So that’s how I ended up looking at that sign as I send Kaylen out to the bus and being reduced to tears again…..tune my heart to sing thy praise. Come thou fount of every blessing.
This does not feel like a blessing. Where is that fount of blessings and does it give out fridges? Because I’d like to get in that line. my heart feels more tuned to breaking down in tears to be honest.
But i force those words to come out of my lips, in the most horrible tear choked version of “singing” one can imagine. And I try to will the words to be meaningful coming from my lips….tune my heart to sing thy praise. Love, and trust. The only other option is bitterness and rage. I do not want that, i do not wish to choose that in my life. So I say the words over and over again until the tears fade away. Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it.
I will figure this out. Today a serviceman will come and tell me how expensive this will be. Then I will come up with a game plan. And I will climb to the top of the garage and get down a cooler. I will go get ice and milk and some butter and some yogurt and some donuts and we will eat junk for breakfasts and they will get lunches at school and we will survive this storm just like we’ve been surviving storms all year. My girls and I, we are hurricane pro’s even though we are landlocked. We are surrounded by people who love us….we are loved….I am loved. I have sought that loving for so long and i am realizing…i am loved. This is how we will survive.
And lots of takeout.
And as always, we will keep on keepin on, my babies and me.