There is an irony to the timing of this post- or rather the struggles I am having composing it. My last essay was about facing fear. Doing the things that scare you. Vulnerability. And here I sit, allowing my fear to silence me once more. Or at the very least, trying to. So, I am going to jump into this feet first- I fear writing about these feelings because quite frankly, I worry that it will be misunderstood. That by allowing these emotions to bask in full visibility, that my immense appreciation of my blessings will be overshadowed. That my love and utter gratitude for my support system (which is so very vast) will be missed. So please know, I am a blessed woman.
The other hesitation is my need to be…how did my therapist phrase it?… Oh yes, “rigidly fair“. I have worked so, very, very hard to ensure that I have not thrown my ex-husband under the bus. That I haven’t caused anyone to feel as if they have to choose sides. That I hold myself to the same standards I hold him to. That I acknowledge mistakes I have made. Due to that, I have kept quite a bit close to the vest and instead, focused on me. My growth. My challenges. However, this time of year brings a challenge that I don’t expose to the sunlight.
The holidays- beginning at Halloween and progressing through the new year- that’s my absolute favorite time of year. Anything that is themed and allows the creation of costumes? Hell yes, count me in. Last year I began compiling pieces for my Halloween costume 8 months before the holiday. Add the layer of trick-or-treating with my sidekick? Instant child-like glee. And that dovetails into Christmas- my favorite holiday of all time. Lights. Trees. Decorations. Santa visits. Matching pajamas. Christmas Eve Mass with choirs and beautiful scripture. Seriously, how could anything top it? However- right smack in the middle of those elation filled pockets is Thanksgiving. The holiday centered around gratitude. The holiday I do not get to share with Moose.
The truth is, woven around all of the moments that fill my heart to the brim this time of year, is a battle. An emotion I do not want to indulge in. One I must swallow. One I mustn’t allow in- for it will take me over.
Oh man, its siren song is tempting. The tears- the anger- never too far away. My favorite time of year is now simultaneously one of my most difficult. The most troublesome detail? It was through no choice of my own.
That’s not entirely accurate- I have choices. I make them every Wednesday. Every other weekend. Every holiday that I must share. The initial choice was taken from me. The continued choices are not ideal, but I mustn’t say that there is no choice given. My choice is between that which my heart craves and what is best for my son. The two rarely converge.
My heart covets all of the time possible with my mini-me before he grows into a man with a life of his own. My heart wants all of the memories with him possible. All of the giggles. All of the tantrums. All of the stubborn moments. All of the joy and pain and everything in between. The problem is- to gain all of the time, I harm my son. Because my son deserves a full family. My son deserves a relationship with his father. My son deserves all of his memories. My son deserves that I put my selfishness aside for his best interests.
That’s one tough pill to swallow.
I thought over time, that it would get easier to lose time with my sidekick. The truth is- it hasn’t. It has evolved. I no longer spend the weekend in the fetal position. The sadness doesn’t debilitate me anymore, but it hasn’t left. I carry it with me whenever he’s gone. Like a cloud over my head in a cartoon. When my son isn’t in my vicinity, it feels like part of me is missing. I don’t feel whole until he’s home.
That sounds rather mellow-dramatic, which I don’t intend it to be. I do things. I have a blast with friends. I go on dates. I get haircuts and run errands. I make the most of my time when I don’t have a tiny tyrant in tow. However, there is always the countdown in my head to his return. To when I can reach over and absently stroke his hair or kiss the top of his head. When I get to hear his laugh. Hug him.
My battle with the ever present allure of indignation and animosity has a new bedfellow- utter jealousy. You see, in the effort to retain my ex-husbands reputation (as mentioned previously) I haven’t written about a big developement. One that effects Moose and I greatly. Moose now has a baby sister.
His sister is the source of the jealousy, but not for the reasons you may assume. I do not want any more children. I knew early on (as in, when I changed my mind from not having children to the dream of rearing one) that I was a ‘one and done’ parent. I know and respect my limitations. The bitterness that wants to envelop my soul originates at their ability to spend every day with their daughter- at my expense.
Okay- I need to check myself again. That last sentence is my inference. And a bit of said bitterness bleeding through the ether. So lets back up- I am eternally envious of their ability to gaze upon their daughter’s face daily. A chance I am not blessed with in regards to Moose. His girlfriend doesn’t know what it feels like to have the person you’ve built your life with not only dismantle said existence together but for that to entail him housing the embodiment of your heart every other weekend.
The reality is- I have been a mother for 44 months. Three years and eight glorious months. But I only enjoyed the ability to hug my son every day for 14 months of that. I have been living an existence of my son being cared for in two separate homes for 30 months.
I pray that my ex-husband’s girlfriend doesn’t ever know what it feels like to not have your child for periods of time. I pray that she gets to bask in the enjoyment of motherhood daily until her daughter reaches an age that she spreads her wings into the world. I pray that for two reasons. One, it is what is best for both of our children. It is best for them to have a stable environment with their father. With each other. Two, because I wouldn’t wish how this feels on anyone.
It is an odd place to be, 30 months post co-habitation with my ex-husband. I don’t miss him. Though I see him daily, I don’t know him. The man I knew- the man I respected- he doesn’t exist anymore. And to be fair, the woman I was 30 months ago doesn’t exist either. I am a woman I respect now. A woman I am proud of.
The reason this emotional battlefield is such a strange existence is because of the very fact that I don’t envy their relationship. I don’t wish for a life with him any longer. I don’t long for days past. However, I feel very palpable anger toward them for the time I lose with my son. I mourn the loss of the stable family I believed I was bringing him into.
I resent that their choices cause my son’s life to be more difficult. Their choices challenge him to be resilient. To be brutally honest- mostly, it’s just my utter sadness at missing out on moments with the most important person in my life.
Being a single mom is hard. Not just because of the day to day struggles that pop up with not having a teammate to tag out, but because of the missed moments. The meltdowns triggered by a change in his routine. Traditions that I never anticipated having to create- like Thanksgiving never shared with me. That’s the side you don’t anticipate. That’s the side we don’t talk as openly about. The resentment. The anger. But there is a silver lining- though some days it is difficult to see. The silver lining is the smile he gets when he comes home. The nights he crawls into my bed at 2 am after being gone for an extra two days because he misses me. Hearing him say “I missed you too”. The fact that I have him at all.