You just never know when you’re going to be in your room, after getting your kiddo to sleep, and suddenly hear crying. In distress. In need of mama.
I really wondered if I was going to have to call the doctor. Poor guy was writhing and couldn’t seem to answer me. I started trying to ask him what his name was and was oddly reassured that he yelled, “NO!”
Finally he softened a bit and said he had to go potty. Once we got there, he didn’t want to get his pull-up back on but wanted me to take him back to the house we were at earlier, “right now.” He got quite nasty, honestly, in the way he was yelling at me and looking at me.
This was not a time for punishment, but for compassion. Kid was completely wiped out exhausted and had to wake up apparently to go potty. I finally had to institute a statement, a declaration that I was going to go back in my room and that he was not to leave the bathroom or put his pull-up back on or get back in bed (ok, so I threw a little reverse psychology in there, too).
After I walked away, having instituted what I felt was the most natural consequence possible, he started to cry. The cry of a little boy who is sad and confused and really wants love. Of course I came right back and carried him back to bed.
As I was tucking the sheet around him, I offered a glass of warm milk to which he replied, “no, no thanks, Mama.”
And back to sleep he went. Easily and peacefully now he rests as I reflect on parenting and surprises in life and the like.
I never had any desire to be a single mom. I clung desperately to hope that my marriage could work and that I could stay happy, healthy, and sane within it. When I did finally release it, I felt as though a great burden had been lifted. I no longer had to live with the tension and stress that that particular relationship seemed to generate. I felt like I was leaving something behind, moving on to another space.
But now it’s like the child is crying in the other room, disturbed from peaceful rest. The doubts come in sometimes crushing waves.
Did I really do everything that I could?
Did I really just believe someone else’s account of what the biggest problems in our marriage were?
Have I inexorably wrecked my life? My 4 bedroom house in the suburbs and 1.5 income household… my 2-parent home, that dream I held onto so tightly for having a cohesive family unit all living under one roof?
I pay attention to these thoughts and feelings. One of my favorite teachers of late describes the thoughts beautifully as, “real, but not true.” It absolutely feels real that I have wrecked my life. I’m living in a 33 foot travel trailer on my grandma’s property with no means to tow it. I had to remove a clog from my ‘black’ tank today as I was emptying it. It’s far from a glamorous or comfortable life.
But is it true? Is it true that my life is going to be forever demarcated by life before divorce and life after?
I’m sure in some ways it is. However, this does not necessarily mean the good times were back there and the bad times are to follow.
For all I know, my new life may be astonishing and spectacular. It’s certainly on a trajectory in that direction. There are many people I meet and interact with who see it as such.
For now though, it hurts. The restless child is crying and kicking and screaming at me.
Soon, she’ll slumber again.
Maybe this time she’ll sleep through the night. And just like that, the pain and mourning can dissipate. Grow smaller in the rearview mirror as my new life takes shape and lurches forward.
I’m going to tuck that bit of hope under my pillow tonight.