I remember back to that first night in the hospital thinking “How am I going to do this alone?”. I also remember crying to one of Howie’s friends and saying “Who is going to help Amanda with her homework?”.
It might seem strange for that to be one of my first thoughts but I think my fear was really about how the girls and I were going to get through life without him. It seemed impossible back then and honestly sometimes it still does.
Right now I am extremely stressed. A lot of it is normal parenting stress that I am sure many of us have.
Lily is just getting over a stomach virus and I am sure will have a lot of schoolwork to make up which gives her stress. Amanda is very anxiously awaiting her final ACT scores and finishing up her college applications. I know that the waiting process on that will be unbearable. And of course a million other little problems going on in all three of our lives.
About four years ago someone I am close with was upset with me for something. I remember saying to her “My only priority is making sure that my girls grow up to be healthy, happy, well adjusted, successful people. I just can’t handle more than that.”. At that point there really wasn’t room in my life for much else.
Over time, and with a little guidance, I have slowly learned to make room for other things. I have learned coping skills that I did not have in the beginning. But when a lot of stress creeps up on me at once, I do still tend to get a bit overwhelmed. There are a lot of decisions to be made and issues to be handled that will be done by just me. This can be terrifying.
What if I handle something incorrectly? What if I make the wrong decision? There will be no one to share the blame with. This is very stressful.
Of course I always have people that I can turn to and ask for advice and I definitely do that. My parents, my in-laws, my sister, my friends, and now my boyfriend (wow I actually wrote that). They are all super helpful and I always take their opinions into account. But as I said once a long time ago, there will never be another person in the world that will love my girls as much as I do. To me that is one of the saddest and scariest things about being a young(ish) widow.
I have discovered that I am a strong, capable woman.
I have handled much more than I ever thought possible. But when I look into the future (which I try not to do) and think of things that might go wrong, I sometimes worry that I won’t be able to handle them.
Something happened just the other day that made me think about this. A very close friend of mine has a daughter who just moved into an off campus apartment at college. The craziest thing happened to her – the entire ceiling of her bedroom came crashing down – while she luckily wasn’t in it. Thankfully she was ok – which was most important. As soon as it happened her parents drove to the school to help her handle the situation. I am sure there were a million things to be done. Making sure she was truly ok, dealing with a landlord, finding a new apartment, her things being destroyed, etc. I adore her parents and I am sure they were able to handle the situation in the very best way – they are fabulous.
My mind immediately goes to “What if something like that were to happen to one of my girls? How would I handle that alone?”. I always try to deal with the here and now and not look into “what if’s” but that is a challenge to do sometimes.
So in the here and now I am stressed. Believe me I have been a lot more stressed than this over much bigger things, but stress is stress nonetheless.
I worry about my girls probably double than most because I feel like I need to worry for myself and their dad (I am not trying to compare – I know everyone worries about their kids – I’m just saying that I am not sharing the burden). But I will pull out my best coping skills and deal with what needs to be dealt with.
I need to remember not to catastrophize when I have stress and to put things into perspective.
Lily will make up her schoolwork, and Amanda will go to college somewhere. The other issues will hopefully work out as well. I will “just breathe” and get through the stress the best way I can.
And I do have a few years before I need to worry about off campus housing and falling ceilings – just happy for now that my friend’s adorable daughter is ok!
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.