I have nothing profound to share today. It was a hard day at work. I cleaned two houses back to back, the two of them being the most difficult houses I clean all month. I have to focus and concentrate because I get so tired. I ache by the evening on days like today. I didn’t have the luxury of wandering off in my mind to distant fields in the future where hope and peace are scattered as blooms among the tall grass. Nor did I have the luxury of returning down the dusty paths of my past where I sometimes linger and reconsider every misstep I took along the way. It was just a day, and I was here, very much in the present.
The present isn’t necessarily feeling any better than the past. I think I misunderstood what a new free life was supposed to look like.
A year ago I sat outside Barnes & Noble waiting for my son to choose his books. I watched people while I waited and wondered what each one’s story might be. One woman in particular caught my eye. She rode up on a cherry red bicycle with a large white basket on the front. She was wearing pink capris and a wide brim hat. She just exuded freedom to me. I imagined I was in her shoes. I saw myself choose a darling outfit and hop on my little bike to ride downtown for an espresso before heading off to the bookstore.
Suddenly, one of the kids screamed in the backseat and shattered the nice little image I was entertaining. What was I thinking? That basket wasn’t going to fit one child in it, let alone all of mine!
A year later I still don’t have a bicycle, cute clothes, or extra time to enjoy espressos and book hunting. If I did manage to find the time I wouldn’t have the $3.50 for an espresso. Sometimes this new free life just doesn’t feel so free.
My husband stole that stupid check, and I ended up overdrawn. There’ll be no child support coming in this week like I had expected. I still haven’t paid my rent that was due October 1, and I’ll be losing one of my busiest cleaning days to Thanksgiving. To top it off, I’m exhausted from a full eight hours of nightmares last night, nightmares brought on by his latest court drama. So, this morning I sat down to pray over a cup of plain brewed coffee and my open Bible. I cried out, “Lord, you’ve got to help me!” as I wondered if I’ve jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
As I tried to hurry to get myself and four kids out the door my oldest daughter started texting me. Her first doctor’s appointment for her pregnancy was this morning. They’ve been trying for quite awhile, and I was beginning to worry that it wasn’t going to happen for them. She’s so excited.
Once at work, I begrudgingly scrubbed and dusted while I mulled over various plans of attack on my financial state, none of which seemed plausible. When I finished the first house I collected my pay and began to remind my client I would not be coming next time because of the holiday. She interrupted me and asked what other day I could come that week. I offered her Friday afternoon since the kids are supposed to visit him anyway, and she eagerly accepted it.
I ate my lunch alone in the parking lot of a feed store while I watched couples come and go.
My next client recently had a minor surgery and was leaving the house for her first outing as I pulled in. She stated that she’d left me a note and would be back before I left. Her husband is a very opinionated and very funny man. I really enjoy our afternoon chats twice a month. He eats his lunch while I clean the kitchen, and we discuss politics and religion, intelligence and abuse, medicine and dogs. Instead of beginning our usual discourse though he pulled out a calendar. Due to his wife’s recent surgery they need me back next week. They won’t have me come Thanksgiving week but want me back the week after and then again the next week after that.
Another of my clients is moving and asked if I’d like to earn some extra money by helping her pack this weekend.
Shortly after arriving home tonight I received a text from my oldest son. It’s going to cost him $1,000 to fly home for Christmas. He could save a lot of money by flying into a large city at the other end of the state and wanted to know what kind of gas mileage my car gets. I told him I was sorry but my car wouldn’t make it that far; it barely runs. I was afraid he would decide to not come home, but instead he said he’d just have to bite the bullet and spend the money. Hallelujah! I’ll get to see my son!
I was too tired to prepare a meal, so I just picked up a take and bake pizza. On a whim I grabbed two of the little make-your-own-pizza kits for small children. The youngest two were so excited. You’d have thought I bought them the moon.
Upon arriving home I noticed the lights were on in the house. The mysterious someone who breaks into my house on a regular basis but never steals anything had apparently paid me another visit. I told the kids to stay in the car and handed my cell phone to my 12 year old. I unlocked the front door and called the dog in the house with me. She was ecstatic to get to come inside. She didn’t grasp that she was only invited in to be my body guard. I hurriedly loaded my pistol and marched upstairs prepared to face my intruder. Unfortunately, he was gone.
The younger three kids and I cooked the pizza and built a fire before we had to pick up my 16 year old from his driver’s ed class at the college. It was a clear night, so I let him drive us home while my 6 year old looked for constellations. Then, of course, I got on here.
Here…the place I share the depths of my soul, my greatest pain, and my darkest secrets. The place where I find all of you who encourage me and compliment me, who make me laugh and bring tears to my eyes.
Today was just a day. A day I saw my God bring work where I need provision. A day I got to share my daughter’s joy and excitement of her first pregnancy. A day I received the news that my son will spend half of his savings to spend a week with his family. A day I found courage to load a gun without shaking and boldly search my house. A day I chose not to cook so surprised my kids with a little midweek fun. A day I get to end in the company of wonderful friends.
Perhaps a new free life isn’t lived in the visions of bicycles and espressos but is lived out in the common ideals of work, courage, freedom to make choices, love, family, and friendship all without the dark shadow of abuse. Actually, the present feels a lot better than the past, and I most certainly did misunderstand what a new free life was supposed to look like.