Amidst the long-distance dating, the divorcing, I was feeling both free and hemmed in. There were times when making a dozen phone calls a day to stay in touch did not fit with the craziness of grade school schedules, working, laundry, dinner, baths, homework – a total shit show on most nights with me falling into a heap by 9pm. On some alternating weekends, I was on a plane, flying there and back and there and back ad nauseum. Equally taxing. It did not take long for me to become an anxious mess. I had to start running to break myself of that bullshit. Why are you always out running, it’s bad enough we can’t talk most of the nights your son is with you…
Eventually, I could start the day without a tightness in my chest. Total waste of emotional energy. Just how much did I rob my child of in order to placate an adult? A LOT.
I think back on those few years and wish I had stayed single.
Splitting custody is not for the faint of heart. I spent most of the first year in a tiny ball in my apartment on the nights I did not have my son, grieving, and the other nights racing around trying to get everything done on my own. On the days my girlfriend was in town, I began a twisting act I liken to being Stretch Armstrong. Google that, youngsters.
Being enough for 2 people, being between them, each of them vying for your attention is a herculean task. No, it does not feel good to be needed.
When I was 10, I told my mother I would be a single parent. She scoffed at me but she traded a glance that said she knew I was serious.
At the time of the 900-mile-relationship, I was just beginning to get a feel for how selfish women are when it comes to sharing their gf with someone else, even if that someone else was a child.
I had to come to a kind of defeated emotional pause that lasted, well, for a while, to get a sense of what my life had become. You can resist reality all you want, but it’s happening. Oh, it’s happening. I was going to take the little guy to the fair alone. I would be standing in the line for a picture with Santa alone. That little hand was going to be linked in mine and it turned out to be just fine with me.
We started throwing the baseball to each other or kicking the soccer ball in the park most evenings. That park has always been a source of strength. I have been plotting my escape to the Netherlands for the last 20 years, if only I could bear to part with the park.
It is where I raised the little boy. Where he first rode his bike without training wheels, where we sledded together when he was 5. A lot of firsts. He’s past the playground now, but occasionally he will want to walk over and swing, or climb, helping the little kids up the tiny rock wall. I ran my finger over his moustache last night after he went to bed and said, “It’s like a furry caterpillar” which make him giggle.
Everything has changed, and sometimes nothing has changed at all.