Being an old child has it benefits, but it also has its major downsides. Besides having a lonely childhood with no one to play or fight with, I found that I became very close to my Dad. He was and still is my best friend. We were very close, and he was always my confidant. My Mom worked all the time so my Dad was the one who took me to the babysitter and picked me up. In the Summertime, as I got older, my mom would drop me off at the neighbors and he would pick me up right after lunch. We would spend many days playing video games, and we would basically be sidekicks.
Fast forward to my adulthood and not much changed. Although I was out of the house now, we spoke everyday. Whether it was on the phone or by text, it was everyday. A few weeks prior to his passing he had called me and I could tell something was off. I told him how much the girls and I loved him, and how we needed him. He reassured me that he loved us too, and he also said something to me that still to this day haunts me. He told me that he loved us so much and we were his reason for living. After we hung up it hit me, but it didn’t sink in until his death.
After finding my Dad I wasn’t sure how, or IF I wanted to go on. My Dad was my rock, and not having anyone to turn to (sibling wise) I found myself being very alone. Yes, I had my fiancée but he had never been in a situation like this and wasn’t sure what to say or how to react. l found myself relying heavily on the constant communication from the people checking in on me. If it wasn’t for those people I would have been even more in a dark place. My kids were at an age where they needed my attention 24/7 and it was very hard to stay focused. As the time went on and the communication stopped I realized just how much I had lost myself with this whole suicide thing.
I tried my hardest to stay positive and continue doing things that I enjoyed. But I realized just how much I didn’t enjoy those things as much anymore. One thing that I had done with my girls since they were born was taking them to the beach. It was our time, and it was time just the three of us. It was on one of the few trips that we had went that I realized I NEEDED to find myself again. I had really let myself go. I gained a lot of weight, and found doing things with my daughters wasn’t as easy as it once was. I remember lifting their double stroller out of our minivan that Spring a being so wiped out I didn’t even want to go on the boardwalk. That trip i decided then and there that I HAD to do this not only for myself first, but for my girls. I had started medication a few months after losing my dad and had been feeling great. But despite feeling great I wasn’t 100% physically. One night when my girls went to bed I decided to sit down and decide what I wanted for myself.
I had been reselling used clothes online for a couple of years, and I decided to get the ball rolling on that again. I decided I needed to get back in that because it kept me not only busy but helped me have a part-time “income.” I liked what I did, but it was very time consuming. I started going to my regular thrift stores again and with two young kids it keeps your mind busy. Slowly but surely I started seeing the sales come in and it made me feel great knowing I was getting to a place where I had been, again. The slow seasons were hard, but I kept telling myself it’ll pass. Prior to my dads passing I had done the reselling thing. He would get SO happy when id tell him how I’d flip things. He’d beam when I told him what I was trying. When I get down from slow sale days and weekends I just remember that it’s short term and it’ll pick up again.
The other thing that we did as a family was we really got into camping. I had convinced my fiancée to get a pop up camper to start doing trips as a family. We didn't have much money but camping was something that I always enjoyed, and could be done fairly cheap. When we had found the pop up I remember being so excited and so ready to be outside and in nature with my little family. We only went on a few trips that Spring and Summer but what we did was so enjoyable. Yes it was a TON of work with small kids and I didn’t get to rest much but we were away and not inside the house. The next season was hard as my fiancée and his Dad started a business and I found myself being home more and alone again. I never was upset with him over this as I wanted the business to take off and thrive. He worked 6, sometimes 7 days a week. I found myself getting sad again and decided to start the beach trips again. I ended up taking my girls to the beach more and more, using money we truly didn’t have. He sat me down one day and he told me I needed to find things to do where I wasn’t spending money because our finances were getting tight. I was so upset because I felt like he was taking one of my joys away. And to note, although I had been making money myself, I wasn’t making enough to be going as much as I was. I was using it as my escape. I wanted to be there because I felt close to my dad there as we had gone there my entire childhood. But I also didn’t want it to be the cause of a relationship breakup. I decided I needed to boot myself in the ass and put my head on straight and be an adult about things. We started finding hobbies in which we could do as a family, but didn’t cost much if anything. We started hiking, and going on walks. I took the girls to the playgrounds near us, and we found things to do around the house. Since it was a year where we couldn’t go away many weekends we decided to set up our camper in the backyard and do camp outs on weekends. We’d have small bonfires, and make marshmallows, and s’mores. We’d play games in the yard and just relax outside. The girls started getting into riding bikes more, and being on scooters.
I realized just how happy I had been discovering things with my girls as I was being away. I had to step outside of the box and I had to find fun things to do that were like being at our favorite places. I also realized that spending money we didn’t have was just feeding into my bad feelings when I’d have them. Doing these fun things together is what I longed for but didn’t realize it until I sat one night around the campfire and heard just how happy the kids were. Hearing and seeing them happy is all I ever needed. I didn’t realize this right away but I found myself by seeing my kids happiness in the simple things. The little things. I am not 100% back to myself but I am at a place where I am happy with myself again. Finding new ways to be active and new things to enjoy as a family is now my happy place.
Ive come to realize just how simple our little family is, and seeing that simplicity is wonderful. It has not only made me a happy person, but also a better mom and wife.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 26, 2021:
I am glad there was a happy ending to this article. It is very difficult to lose someone that we love and are very close to.
I am glad you were able to get through some of the grief and are enjoying life. This is a very touching article, Mandy.