One thing I am noticing about our house is that already the kids are starting to take me a little bit more seriously these days. Don't get me wrong; there are obviously still issues and problems that need resolved and a lot of new things to learn and implement. Hannah and Eli both are actually challenging me a little bit more, which is probably to be expected. I think it might have to do with seeing just how serious I am about making changes, seeing just how far I am willing to bend. The answer is, not at all.
Sitting in that class last week, and gearing up to go again tomorrow, I see very clearly what I do NOT want for my kids, or for myself. I think I wrote about my struggles with feeling superior to these other parents, and trying to keep an open mind and not judge them. However, on Monday, the mom of the kid Hannah is not supposed to call or text (did I tell you I had to take her phone away?) stopped by the house with this boy, and it was all, "I hate that fucking school, I hate that Principal, he has does nothing but try to get my son in trouble..." I thought, hmm. With an attitude like that, it is no wonder to me that her child is in trouble; he has clearly learned early on that everyone else is responsible for his poor choices, and he is of course blameless. They live in one of those rent-by-the-week hotels, she does not work, and I don't know or want to know much else about her. She said to me,"We are just out driving around killing time," and in the same breath asked if I would give them rides to "that fucking class." Because she was having a hard time affording the gas. God knows I understand that; I really and truly do. However, she chooses to not work, she has a terrible attitude and is simply showing up at the class in order to prevent her son from going to jail; she has no intention of taking seriously anything talked about. I told her no; I also made a point of telling her about how good our experience at the school has been, and how much I like Mr. A. (I may have exaggerated how "great" it has been, but I really do like Mr. A), and how I did not feel comfortable with her son coming over to or calling or texting my daughter. It appears that I am not going to win any friends here; she kind of sniffed as if to say,"Fuck you," and drove off throwing gravel. Whatever.
However, it is hard for me to look at my own situation and not feel some empathy for her. I would be willing to say there are probably a LOT of similarities between she and I. She is "with" someone, as there was a man at the class with her last week, but she still seems like a single parent, and it seems pretty obvious to me that where she is, is the result of some poor choices she has made. What I don't understand or have empathy for is the attitude she carries around with her, that the whole world owes her something and she just wants to sit back and wait or it to happen.
Here is something I have been thinking about a lot in the past few years, but even more so at this moment. On the outside, maybe, I could be this woman. I mean, I might not live in a motel, but I do live in a pretty junky little house (but we ARE on the "right" side of the tracks, if just barely). I am poor, have no education, made really crappy choices in men more than once, which is in part why I am where I am. However, I look at her and think, "White trash," whereas while I might JOKE about being white trash, I know we are not. What makes we two women in such similar circumstances so different? What made it so that I was able to get this job (sell myself) with little or no skills, start out as a receptionist, and then work my way toward my agent's license? What is stopping HER from doing the same thing? Or the fact that I can manage to scrape together the $5.00 a month to rent Sam's violin from the school so he can be in orchestra and she can't get together $1.00 to buy a bar of soap, yet was smoking and drinking soda? Not that I think she should have to go without those things; that isn't the point I am getting at. I guess I am just curious as to what makes some of us have different and better priorities than others. It can't just be circumstance; like I said, ours are, I am fairly sure, very similar, yet the two of us are night and day in how we approach things; what is it that makes us so different?
I can't pinpoint any one thing, but I think that attitude has a lot to do with it. I have my moments-days and weeks sometimes-where I feel overwhelmed and hopeless; they don't last, though, and somehow I get up and keep going in the meantime. Is THAT what the difference is? I don't know, I really don't. I just know that I don't want to help her-which makes me feel selfish and hateful as well as ungrateful; after all, I have gotten a lot of help in the last few months. I have gotten cards and treats from friends, I have gotten some money and a gift card, I have gotten clothes for Owen. Isn't it terrible that I don't want to do anything for this woman? But then I stop and think about it and realize that it isn't that I don't want to help; I have at different times bought groceries for a friend, given money anonymously to one of my customers, sent cards to cheer up a friend, sent flowers to a women having a hard time. It is that I don't want to help HER. and I really think that is more about her than me.
This is what I think: that we all need help at one time or another, be it financial or emotional or just a sweet, thoughtful card in the mail unexpectedly. However, if people give and give and give and the recipient continually refuses to do the work it takes to get things back on track, they kind of get tired of it. They get tired of the "poor me, my life is terrible and it is ALL someone else's fault" attitude. This must be what God feels like sometimes, looking down at us. He gives us all this...stuff. Friends and (sometimes) family, myriad opportunities (like totally opening up the door for me to take this class with the kids), a thousand and one different opportunities to make positive changes in our lives, one tiny little step at a time. Yet we sit back and wait for something more, wait to wake up one day and have everything perfect. Though I am not comparing myself to God in ANY way, I imagine he must shake his head and say, "For shiz, people, get off your ass and DO something!" Like I am doing with this woman. People would help her if she wanted to help herself, you know?
I want, every day, to be worthy of everything that has been given to and provided for me. And for my kids. I want people who have helped me and continue to do so to look at me, my family, and think it was time, money, a card, a stamp, a hug, whatever that was well-spent. I look at my life post-divorce and can clearly see how it has gotten better. Slowly but surely, there has been forward movement; I want at some point to be able to sit in front of the Big Guy and have Him say, "I gave you all of these opportunities and you took every one of them. Even if I had to humble you more than once, you accepted the help of my people, you worked hard, and well done."
Aarargh. The part of this that I hate is that I should probably be more open hearted and generous with this woman, too. Because He has also told me I have to love everyone. I hope that he doesn't mean I have to give her a ride, too; I hope it means I can just love her from afar.