It’s been ten days since the frozen winter tears cried on our city and I’ve accepted the self-disappointing decision I made that day. In retrospect it was not as big or out of the extreme ordinary, but rather a reflection of the guilt and sorrow I live with knowing that I carved the line that divides my family; and how some of the decisions I make have the potential to hurt my children. (Albeit, every parent has the ability to negatively affect their children even with the most benign of choices, and that’s the difficult part. Children are pure and innocent like the clean veil of snow until the world litters it with all of their impurities. I will never know for sure if my kids would’ve been better off had I stayed in the marriage and kept our family bound. (Truthfully, when I’m being really honest with myself, I still would’ve made the same choice, I just like torturing myself with what if’s.). In reality, yes, they probably would’ve felt more stable in one home, and yes, I would love to say that I could’ve been swayed by fortune telling of brighter futures, but I wasn’t and I’ve accepted that part of myself. Mainly because I couldn’t imagine what sort of damages having a mother on lockdown could do, well that’s B.S., I do know and it’s vicious, and I want to feel alive for my children even if it means suffering them of something else.)
Obviously I’ve spent the past week trudging my way through my own undoing, by swinging the pendulum of punishment and reward. It’s craziness, this intense assortment of feelings I have concerning the kids since their father and I split. It feels like a high voltage emotional shock followed by an exhausted reprieve for me when I’m with them and tired or longing for them. I’ve been trying to figure out why the volume turned deafening, it’s because I was trying to drown out my guilt. I was over compensating for the lack of time with them by completely immersing myself in my role as “mom,” but to the point of overindulging and micro-parenting them, and in the process growing weary and impatient. It also occurred to me like frosting on cake that I’m a single parent when I have them, and I give my all to the inequality in numbers. I didn’t want to use that card before because it felt sticky like a cheat. I’ve changed my mind about that one and I’m owning it now and in doing so I’ve given myself a little room to stretch out in the “I’m doing the best I can” recliner, and I am, I mean it. (In the past I never blinked an eye about getting a babysitter or nanny when I was with their father and needed a break. Now that feeling of wanting time alone causes me such grief, but not so much that it goes away, so I’ve decided to figure out how to come to terms with it. I know that I can love my children with a primal fierceness, I know that I would die for them in an instant, but I can be separate from them and still want time to myself.)
On the first day after the soft drift of white flakes, followed by a pelting of sky skipping hail I loaded the kids up in the car and took them to their dads. (That statement is what I couldn’t say last week.) I felt guilty about wanting a break so much that I risked driving them in the snow to get it. I don’t feel bad about it anymore. I needed the time to pack and to prepare for the scheduled move I had coming up a few days later (And a closing eleven days later.) During one of my mental tournaments I scored when I let myself feel the sorrow in the tragedy of moving from our family home, and beyond the final chapter of that part of our life.
I didn’t know it was going to help, nor did I know that calling Jack would be the impetus for feeling the bitter sweet, yet deep sadness accompanying the move. I called him as I was pulling out of the U-Haul parking lot. I had my right hand on the grip of the oversized cheese wheel of the “mom’s attic” truck. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. (I bet you are too! That’s right, I moved with a U-Haul and I saved a lot of money, and gained a lot more. I spent a few weekends with family and friends organizing, packing, moving, hauling boxes, schlepping, carting, unpacking, and putting furniture together. Now I’m sitting pretty in the tree house, admiring how the nest came together.) In any event, back to my story, he picked up the phone and I said, “Guess what I’m doing? Moving!” Those lines are from an inside joke between us. Eleven years ago I met Jack in NYC. A month or two after we met I was riding in the back of a cab with my suitcases (with Eastern Airline tags) and he called me and asked what I was doing. I said, “I’m moving!” He laughed because he knew I had to be in a cab with all my bags because I didn’t have much else. (That story still brings a smile to my face. I think the streets were covered in black ice then too.) After we laughed for a minute I told him that I was grateful for the ten years I’d spent with him and that we’d had a lot of fun. He taught me so much about myself, like how to be grounded, and how to trust, and how not to take life so seriously. I wanted someone to have kids with who would compliment my fickle and airy ways. We agreed that the best things that came out of our coupling were our kids and none of it was a mistake. We were right where we were supposed to be and we still have what matters, our children. He’s the one I turn too when I need to be reassured that I’m a good mom. That says a lot about both of us. I’m learning to trust myself.