I wrote this post months ago. It has been sitting, protected in my drafts file. I thought I had become tempered by the routine of missing my little man every other weekend. The emotions I experienced just became part of the routine as well. They were expected. I began to wear them like an old pair of shoes -with a pebble stuck in the sole. No longer dipping down in an attempt to protect my skin from the discomfort- instead accepting it as the new normal.
But this past week was a holiday and I didn’t see Moose for an extra two days. Two days that felt like an eternity. And I realized, I may never get used to not seeing his face every day. I don’t think I will ever miss him less.
My emotions make those breaks in routine difficult. But his response increases the heartbreak for me. His separation anxiety spikes. He doesn’t want to leave my side upon his return. He doesn’t want to be put down. He doesn’t want to go to sleep. It takes us both several days to recover from time away. The extra snuggles do us both good. I couldn’t have imagined how hard this would be on both of us.
I miss being pregnant. I don’t miss how I felt. I was sick all the time- my body didn’t handle pregnancy well. Also, I don’t miss the sweating. So.much.sweating. But I miss my round belly. Well, I miss the adorable reason I had a round belly. Now I have a sad, deflated beach ball. Not hot. I miss how nice people were to me. It really is amazing the generosity people show when you have a baby bump. Strangers were nicer. I received more smiles and hopeful chit chat. The world felt brighter, kinder.
But mostly, I miss having my little man safely tucked under my ribs. I miss having him with me all the time.
I miss seeing movies whenever I wanted and sleeping whenever I wanted. I miss sleeping in. And by the time he sleeps in, he will be a teenager and my body will be programmed to wake early. I shall repay this kindness with banging pans together in the morning. Although, if we stay on the current trajectory of Moose being my carbon copy, he will also sleep like me. Which means no payback-he will sleep soundly through every bit of it.
I miss hugging my belly when I felt anxious. I miss the kicks as reminders that he was with me. I never thought I would miss any aspect of being pregnant. But I do miss the wonder of it. And then I look at my phone. My portable photo album with millions of pictures of his smiling face. And I realize that if he was still in my belly I wouldn’t get snuggles. I wouldn’t hear his laughter. I wouldn’t get drive by hugs as he plays. I wouldn’t know the smell of his hair or the weight of his body as he drifts to sleep on my shoulder. When I think of those things, I miss being pregnant much less. And then an expectant mother walks by me in the store. And I remember the awe I had when I was pregnant. My body made it scary, but in the end it did this incredible thing.
My body- the one that has failed me in so many ways- did the miraculous. It built a tiny person. It built the best tiny person I could ever want to meet.
I have no doubt in my mind that my son is the greatest decision I have ever made. I think anyone who asks about him knows that. I ooze love and pride for that little curly haired monster. The end of my marriage has given me a unique situation to evaluate that decision. Every other weekend I get a “break” from being a parent. I can sleep in and take naps whenever I want. I can run errands alone and go out with my friends at a moments notice. I can stay out late and never have to worry about the snacks I have packed, if it is near nap-time, or if I have diapers and wipes on hand. And my heart aches. I don’t want a “break” from parenthood. I don’t think there is such a thing. At least not for me.
This weekend is one of those weekends. I don’t have my son by my side. He is with his father. My house is quiet. I can do whatever I want, except for the one thing I want. I cannot hug my kid. I cannot hear him laugh. I feel like part of me is missing.
I don’t worry about him when he is with his father. I know he is fine. I know he is safe and loved. I am the one that isn’t fine. Moose is the external embodiment of my joy. The way he grasps my hand to bring me on his adventures or the tugs to my clothing I get when I am standing at the kitchen sink- those are a sweet comfort better than anything I have ever felt. And when he is gone there is a void.
There are weeks when he is teething and he is inconsolable. He doesn’t sleep. I don’t sleep. And I am pushed to my brink. In those moments, for a split second, I am relieved that I will get a break. Because running the day to day with a small tyrant can be more exhausting than anything I have ever experienced. The doubt, self judgement, and fear fatigue your soul. And there is part of you that knows you need a moment to reset to ensure that you keep being the best parent that you can be. And you feel guilty for it. When you get the rest, all you can do is miss them. As soon as you are away from them, you realize that part of your being is absent. You were wrong. You didn’t need the break. Not even that small part of you.
You are crushed with the immensity of how much you miss your tiny dictator.
I have been told to use this time. To relax and recuperate. And I do. I go out. I see movies. I clean the house. That last one does not sound exciting, but it is so much more fulfilling when you know your hard work will stay in place for longer than 5 minutes. When I can, I do take care of myself. I take advantage of this freedom. But my heart still aches. My house is too quiet. I count down until my whirlwind returns.
I am sure that the intensity of my feelings will fade. I am sure that I will adjust to the new rhythm of my life. But right now, as I sit in my too quiet house, I am heartbroken. I never imagined a life that he wouldn’t be with me daily. I wasn’t prepared for my child to have a life without me this early. A life that I know nothing about when he isn’t with me. I don’t know what he does. What he wears. How he eats. Who he is with. But it is the new normal. He seems to be adjusting to this new life- more or less. He is such a happy little boy. He has adjusted to his father not living in his house.
So tonight, as all of my peers relish the weekend, I am hoping it goes by quickly. For the piece of my soul that is missing will return Sunday night. My world will be whole again and my house will be a mess again. Just the way I like it.