Monday, April 25, 2016


Today, I've been remembering the good old days, back in the 70's when we took family vacations. I shudder thinking that I even remember the 70's.   That was long time ago and long before seat belts existed in cars, or maybe they did but wearing them was optional.  Apparently, we cared little about our own safety and less for our children's.

Looking back, I have to wonder, with a smile on my face, 'What were my parent's thinking?'  Not only did we forgo seat belts in the back seat of the big silver Buick, but they built up the leg room so it was the same height as the bench, and we bounced around back there on a giant, Buick, backseat bed for hours, until we reached our destination.

Before starting any trip in the car, I dutifully made myself notebooks so that I could note every license number we passed and record general activities we did.  One task that was always assigned to me was counting tunnels.  It seems like such an odd thing but I remember my dad telling me that keeping track of tunnels was always my job.  He would announce when a tunnel was coming and I would mark my tally of tunnels in the stapled book of scrap paper.  Whenever we went through a tunnel, he would honk the horn until we got out the other side.  To this day, when I drive through a tunnel, I honk the horn.  It must be a Canadian thing to do because I never hear anyone else doing it...or maybe it was just a family thing we did.

Here we are today, four decades later and I still think about tunnels.  Today, it's in a different context. I've been reading a book I found in the Economy section at Barnes and Noble.  It's a little out of my preferred genre of literature but it has been fascinating to me.  It's called Scarcity.  In it, the authors describe what happens when you live in scarcity.  One side effect is called tunneling.  All you can see is the problem at hand; the scarcity you are experiencing.  Living below our means, whether financially, or in love, friendship, time, attention, health etc. we become preoccupied with the deficit.  We can't focus on anything else.  We develop tunnel vision.  All we can see is just a sliver of what is in front of us at any given moment.  We can't see a bigger picture.

It dawned on me as I read, that most of my life, I have not only lived in scarcity but existed in tunnel vision.   This is especially true of the past 11 years that I have been divorced.   In that 11 years, we have been through a lot; two solid years of chemotherapy, bowel resection, pneumonia multiple times, deadly viruses and bacterial infections, bone reconstruction and prosthetics, lumpectomies and the list goes on to unemployment, underemployment...ahhh, it's exhausting to consider.  With all of our ups and downs, it's been hard to focus on anything but the fire at hand.

Now, we are acknowledging the ill-effects of tunneling.  And while I feel horribly guilty and ashamed of our existence, I'm not sure how I could have done anything different.  The truth is, now we are four lost souls.  We are simply lost in our tunnel of life.  It seems like getting out of a tunnel should be easy; honk your horn!  Wave down a fellow traveler or go towards the light...the problem is, I can't find the light. I don't even think there is an end to this tunnel.

My kids are feeling the tunneling effects and I find myself apologizing every day to them.  Today after school, Sam and I had to address the fact that he may not get all of his work done in time to graduate in 4 short weeks.  He's had to do an extra English class, home school style because he missed most of one semester when he was in 9th grade, due to illness.  He has to make up an entire semester of seminary and has 22 days to do that, again because of missed days due to health problems.   He has no plans for college applications, a mission, nothing really.  Why? It's not his fault, it's because I have been tunneling.  Just trying to swim above the current.  Trying to run a business, be an employee for someone else's business, feed my kids and keep them alive.  That's all.

Sadly though, it's been our whole life.  I hear myself telling them over and over...just get through.  Do the best you can.  Don't worry about that now.  We'll figure that out later.  It sounds like a supportive parenting role but very ineffective it turns out, at least for the long term.  Spencer is feeling its ill-effects as well as he is very under prepared for life in the real world and as a double whammy for him, he now has to deal with his own health issues and try to make a living and get an education, all on his own.  It's been challenging and continues to be so, even discouraging to him.  He deals with it by avoidance.  What can I say, he learned from the best.

Now, I don't share this little tale for pity.  It's just an epiphany I had today.  It felt so good to just sit my kids down and say, "My name is MOM and I am a tunneler and that is why your life sucks today!  Thank you!"  It was like my own little 12 step group for the narrow minded, short sighted. It was very empowering to just admit out loud that this isn't the way I intended for things to work out.

But...I promised them, that somehow, if they had enough faith, God would not punish them because of my shortcomings.  I really believe that God will make up the least I hope he will!  No, he will!  We've made it this far and believe me, it was nothing I did!  So, if you happen to be in the tunnel sure to honk and wave!

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