Hindsight, they say, is always 20/20. I believe it is, so long as we are looking back with vision cleared by way of the lessons having been learned. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of looking back. Probably too much, to be honest.
As a parent, and I think especially as a lone parent, guilt often comes as part of the package deal. I’ve plenty of guilt these days, and maybe all the looking back I am doing is compounding that guilt. I suppose one day, when I look back on these recent struggles, I will have that 20/20 hindsight. I hope so, anyway.
What does one do when the present feels so disorientingly surreal and looking back brings too many questions of “what if” to dare examine?
Looking back, I see an independent woman determined to make her life the best it could be. A woman who actively chose to become a mother. A woman who promised her son, and then her second son, that she would always do her very best for them. Yet, looking back, I also see a woman who trusted when she shouldn’t have, made some choices from the heart that she shouldn’t have made, with the result being those lessons hopefully learned in that all-too-clear hindsight that is 20/20.
Looking back, I remember a major turning point of my life 10 years ago when, being publicly humiliated and shunned by a Catholic parish back in America, I was told I was a “bad example to children” and “tarnished the reputation of the parish” because I was pregnant and unwed. It was a choice I made, and it is one, when looking back, I will never regret. No clarity of hindsight needed in this matter. It was, and is, the best decision I ever made – despite the critics, despite the judgements, despite the pious hatred, despite it all. And as I hear Brendan Bjorn, who is at this very moment lying in his medical bed, laughing at his younger brother, some of that guilt is washed away. Yet, it is still something I occasionally look back at because what happened then did forever change the course of our lives.
The present is, as I said above, surreal to me. I look at recent newspaper articles and see our private lives splashed out in colour and detail in a desperate plea for help…and the guilt is made tenfold at each glance I take. Guilt that I cannot independently take care of these two amazing boys of mine. Guilt that we now face homelessness, as the formerly strong, independent woman in me shakes her head in self-disappointment. Guilt that maybe, just maybe, if I had better learned lessons in the past, we wouldn’t now be in this situation.
I don’t know.
Can any of us really know, though, had we chosen the other “what if” where we would be in our life present day? I don’t think so.
Looking back, and looking ahead, I must try harder to focus on the beauty of the days and the gifts that each of my sons bring to my life…to our life together as a family. That is what will keep the present days from being too surreal, and too dark. I’ve been given blessings untold by being the mother of Brendan Bjorn and Declan. Blessings that the world doesn’t read about in these stories of pending homelessness and struggle, but they are there, lest anyone think otherwise.
As I drove down the road the other day, contemplating all that is happening in our lives present day, I looked back.
There, in the reflection, was my answer – and my saving grace.