I woke up with a loneliness that has delicately wrapped itself around my shoulders. I feel its presence, ever so slightly in all that I’ve done this morning. The clouds outside seem to have done the same to the morning light. We are wearing our grayness like a cloak, me and this new day.
Why should I feel this way? Here is my truth. I live a double life. We all do, all the people in my family and sometimes it makes me sad.
Yes, I have five boys…three of my own, plus two more gifts from my marriage to Richard. And I like to write and talk to anyone who will listen about how hard it is having all these kids. The dishes, the laundry, the clutter, the noise, the financial strains are all sometimes more than I can handle. Also, it hasn’t been as easy to ‘blend’ these two unique families into the new amazing one I originally idealized when I was newly in love and running on the fumes of passion and naivety. I’ve shared that with others too.
But the truth is, I only have those five boys every other week. Both of our custody arrangements are set for a week on/a week off schedule. In truth, we should call it a week with and a week without.
In the beginning, it was fun. I cannot lie. The idea of a week without any kids in the house was exciting. I used to look forward to that moment when everything went still in the house and the quiet danced through the rooms and seeped into my stressed out body. Richard and I would head out on our ‘date night’, exploring new places and having adventures that are so much easier for ‘free’ people to have. It has always been a special time for us and I do believe it helps us keep our marriage sparking. But, it comes at a price.
And that price seems exorbitant at times.
It’s not normal for this Mama to be away from her children for a week at a time. It has become our normal because when my marriage to their father ended, the most fair thing we could think of was to share our time with them in this way. And I will say it again, my children have amazing parents and I would never want them to lose any time with either of them. But that doesn’t make it any less hard or uncomfortable or lonely to have them be away from your child for half a month, half a year, half of the rest of their childhoods.
Last night Richard and I went on one of our dates. We had a decadent glass of red wine and then went to see Me and Earl and The Dying Girl. We loved the film, but it is the kind of movie that decides to get up and leave with you after the credits finish rolling. It sits in the backseat of the car on the long, quiet, ride home, stands behind you as you brush your teeth and gaze into the mirror at your puffy eyes, and even crawls into bed in between you as you pull the blankets up to cover yourself, your heart, your mind and all its worries and wonders.
It’s the kind of movie that makes you realize how fast it all (LIFE) goes by and how little the messes truly matter. It’s the kind of movie that makes you sad that your children are away half of the time, seeing new things, smiling fresh smiles, shedding salty tears that you aren’t there to see with your own two eyes. It’s the kind of movie that makes you swear you will savor the little things, the annoyances, the joys, the moments that once ticked by can’t be snatched back. I realize that one could argue that our children’s lives are good because they are living more experiences, have more people to love and nurture them, and are gaining a broader perspective on how the world works. And most days I know this to be true.
But this morning, I just feel lonely here without them.