At one time or another in nearly everyone’s lives we wish we could have had different parents, a different childhood, or walked down a different path in life.

Call it regret, call it guilt, call it what you will…you wish for the impossible, for that which is past, done, set in stone, to be different somehow.

To make ends meet in this difficult time I started a new, part-time job this morning. I was to be there at 9am and I had offered my mother a job as babysitter. She’s out of a job right now, and although I looked forward to putting my little girl in this very cool, exciting daycare down the street from us, I knew my mom could use some help until she found other work. I asked her if she would be interested and she sounded very enthusiastic. “I’ll need you here by 8:30 a.m. on Monday.” I told her.

“No problem. I’ll be there.”

My husband left early to go to his all-day training program and I had finished with breakfast and was helping Emily clean her room up before her grandmother arrived. I looked at the clock…8:31 a.m. “Please be caught in traffic,” I thought to myself as I dialed her phone, “Please don’t have forgotten or slept in.”

Those hopes were shattered when she answered on the 4th ring, obviously having just woken from a deep sleep. I knew that with traffic, it would take her an hour to arrive, at the earliest. I calmly but firmly informed my mother that I needed someone I could depend on and would be enrolling her in the local daycare today. She said nothing and I got off the phone as soon as I could and made a panicked phone call to the daycare. Yes, they could take Emily and yes, I could bring her in right away.

I drove over there, filled out the necessary paperwork, dropped her off and flew off to my new, and very understanding, employer-arriving 30 minutes late on my first official day of employment.

All day now I have been wondering, is this the day when I will get the call? Is this the day when I will pick up the phone and it will be the police calling, “Mrs. Shuck, we are so sorry to tell you this but, your mother…”

To say that I’ve been waiting for it to happen, expecting it even, is an understatement. And so when the week stretches on into weeks, even months, I wonder. I often call, leave a cheery message on the answering machine and wait for her to call me back or email me some stupid chain letter that I most assuredly will not pass on.

She is my Eeyore, my little black rain cloud, and while I love her, I am tired. I am tired of worrying. I am tired of trying to help someone who so obviously does not want help. I am tired of being cheerful. I am tired of seeing the positive where she can only see the negative. I am tired of the racism, the classism, the pointed barbs she sends my way when I don’t match her expectations.

I want to yell, “Clean your own glass house before you point fingers at mine!” I want to yell, “Stop feeling so sorry for yourself, putting napalm to your relationships with others, and set some goals and work like hell to achieve them!” And I do say, “It’s your life and you only have this one, make it count for something.”

All of my efforts and words and hopes and dreams – they fall on deaf ears and it is hard, so hard, to keep the pessimism at bay. I love her, but I cannot respect her, the path she has chosen is so alien to me. It seems a half life, where only darkness and sadness thrives, and I cannot understand the appeal.

Stephen King said it best in “Shawshank Redemption” – For all of us there comes a time when you have to decide. Are you going to “get busy living, or get busy dying?”

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