It’s Always Something.

It’s always something.”

I remember my parents saying that a lot when I was younger. I nodded like I understood what that meant, because in my life, there was always something. I was wrapped up in getting through college. I spent hours e-mailing my friends who were scattered all over the country in faraway places like medical school. I was too busy to notice my parents, who were saddled with a failing business and struggling to care for my grandparents.

It’s always something.

I looked up from my laptop to see my mother, standing in the doorway of my bedroom. She was in her early forties. She looked tired as she leaned against the entry, telling me that my grandmother was in the hospital. My parents were supposed to take a business trip, but they were postponing it to care for my grandmother.

I blithely responded because saying nothing would be impolite. I may have even believed that I understood what she meant when she said, “It’s always something.” Life is a constant barrage of somethings. For me, it was term papers and finding a parking space at the university. A trail of failed relationships dragged behind me from one college to the next, and finally to my parents’ Louisiana home where I stayed for good, writing and mulling in my bedroom as my friends got engaged and planned their weddings.

I stood in six different weddings in 2002. I was convinced I would never meet the right man and would die alone, surrounded by cats. That would be my final something in a string of always somethings. These are the things that kept me up at night, while my mother was choking under the pressure of running a business and lining up in-home caregivers for her parents.

It’s not that I was any more self-involved than the next 22-year-old; it was that no matter what was going on, she was still my mom, available when I needed her. I went on to marry and have children, and she didn’t miss a thing.

I remember her hurrying into the delivery room with my father following behind hesitantly, likely out of fear that he would see something he could never un-see, and relief crossed her face when she saw they had made it in time. The check engine light was on in their truck, and they were worried they might break down on the highway as they raced to meet their first grandchild.

It’s always something,” I heard her say.

But my mother was always my mother despite the somethings.

Years later, the dynamic has shifted, and I find myself asking out loud to no one in particular, because there is no one around to answer: How does one person care for three children under the age of 6 while her mother’s health slips away?

I am unprepared, gasping for air. I have no headlamp, no footing, no guidance. Nothing.

My mom called one afternoon to tell me what the cardiologist said, right as my oldest got home from school. I strained to hear her through the phone as children swarmed around me. “Hold on just a minute,” I said, covering the phone with my hand. I yelled at my kids to get out of the kitchen, and cradled the phone on my shoulder as I scooped up the TV remote and turned on something—anything—that would keep them quiet for a few minutes.

I choked back the tears as I listened. She sounded tired. The kids were digging in the pantry. I pulled down a bag of Goldfish crackers, and the two older ones dove into it as the baby snacked on the pieces that fell to the floor.

I had more to say, more questions to ask, but my 3-year-old was crying.

It’s always something,” I heard myself say. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Now I understand.

Making the best of it.

Making the best of it.

© 2015 Harmony Hobbs, as first published on Scary Mommy.

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Bitches Spelunk.

I am the mother of three small children.

I am the only child of an ailing parent.

I am a wife, a friend, and a person.

It’s a tight space, where I live. It’s often dark. The oxygen feels low. I have to concentrate to breathe. Sometimes, the air gets squeezed out and I’m breathless.

It reminds me of the time I went spelunking in college. I’ve never been a fan of small spaces, but it sounded like a fun adventure. I could do anything at that point in my life. I was fearless, and would try anything once … which is probably why I have done a whole lot of things exactly one time.

The darkness in that cave was suffocating. I’d never been in a place so pitch-black before. I had to focus my breathing, continually reminding myself that this is fun and I will not die. When we finally burst back out into the open air, I nearly wept with relief.

That’s what this tight space feels like. It feels like spelunking.

I hate spelunking.

But.

I won’t sit down on the cold cave floor and wait for my circumstances to change. I’ll keep moving, keep bumping around and fumbling in the dark because THAT IS WHAT BITCHES DO.

Now, if you know me in real life you know that I’m not a bitch at all. I’m actually a very polite, kind person — the opposite of a bitch, actually. In this case, I am using “bitch” to mean a woman who isn’t lost in the fire, but is made from it. That’s a quote I read somewhere recently, and I love it.

Bitches don’t sit and wait to be rescued from their life. Bitches make their life awesome in spite of. Bitches take situations around the neck and OWN THEM.

I have a good life even though it is happening in a very tight, very difficult space. And I’m still breathing, even though sometimes I have to work at it.

20150317_134010~2This is a picture of my son making the most of his current situation. No, he doesn’t have a swimming pool to play in, but you know what he DOES have? A BIG PLASTIC BOX.

So darkness be damned, I will make the best of today because that’s what bitches do.

I’m going to OWN IT.