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There was a time on this blog (well, during the Run Faster, mommy! days) when I over-shared, a lot. It makes no sense, really, the things I choose to keep secret from 99% of the world, and the things I’ll post in heartfelt detail for any John Doe of the great world wide web to read. Lately, I’ve kept most of the super personal stuff locked away, but I suppose this over-share is overdue.
Hang on tight, this one is deep.
So my kids live with their dad, my ex, about a bajillion miles away from my current location. More like 450ish miles if I’m going to estimate like a normal person, but as a mother, I assure you it feels like a bajillion miles away. While there was a ton of drama between our split, there is none about the kids being there, not in my heart at least. The bottom line is, he took them in when I needed him to, is better able to provide them with what they need right now, and as far as I can tell, is doing a damn good job at it. I hold no bitterness towards that fact, quite the contrary, I’m very thankful for all that he does for them. Is it hard for me? More than words can say. But I also know that their father’s stability and routine rather than my chaos and uncertainty truly is what is best for them right now.
People often tell me that is very unselfish of me, to sacrifice my time with them for their own good. I often smile and thank them, but deep down know that on the contrary, my wanderlust and chaotic lifestyle is incredibly selfish of me. No one needs to point that fact out to me, or even try to avoid it, I already know. And I’m working on it.
But thanks anyway.
My boys are here with me for a good chunk of the summer. In trying to see the positive in everything in my life, I’ve realized how it is kind of neat that every time I see them, they are markedly different. You see, when you spend everyday with someone, time seems to move at light speed. You don’t notice changes as they are happening around you, until one day you look at a photograph and think “when the hell did my baby turn 16?” Something about knowing how much time I’ve missed now, and possibly still in the future, makes me appreciate, and aware of these changes even more. Like how Kindergarten has turned my 6 year old into an inquisitive, intellectual, unknowingly sarcastic young man, who not only listened to my explanation of why our chicken eggs were brown and not white, but a week later at the grocery store, reminded me to only buy the “happy chicken eggs from the humane farmers.” (I hope that wasn’t his sarcasm).
And then there is my absolutely fearless four year old. I admire his tenacity, stubbornness, and endurance, even though at times he makes me question if I will have grey hair before the summer is over. Not even five years old yet, this little guy runs quarter mile spurts as fast as his little feet will take him, stop dead in his tracks, take a few breathes, then start back up again. And not because he has any inkling of how much mommy loves to run…he simply runs for the sake of it, like his little body is driven to not stop moving. He barrels down steep trails without a care in the world, yelling something about being a bowling ball, only to hit the bottom of the hill and want to do it all over again. Yet Mr. Fearless will stop at the most unexpected times and with genuine sincerity tell anyone, me, Geoff, the guy behind the gas station counter, “I love you”. And he means it.
And while a large part of me will never be OK with the fact that this is the path our lives took, part of me is thankful. You see, I don’t remember much of the first 5 years of my oldest sons life, or the last 3 of the youngest’s. Instead I remember being exhausted, frustrated, isolated, lonely, and always trying to keep my head above the water. I can’t remember when my youngest took his first steps. I can’t remember his first words, or the difference between ages 2 and 3. I see videos and pictures of those times, and not only don’t recollect those moments, but have an overwhelming feeling that they were so blatantly staged. I honestly don’t remember many good times.
I don’t want to sound like I’m justifying the time I’ve had to spend away from my kids. In a perfect world, there would be enough resources, lack of hurt feelings and inner turmoil for even broken relationships to execute flawless, precision parenting. In a perfect world, everyone would be able to roll with the punches, and “pull up their big girl panties”, so to speak, to do what needed to be done. But I can be the first to tell you that life isn’t fair, and humans are flawed. I am flawed. I ALWAYS see the glass as half full, I have made optimism a part of my very being, yet I still know firsthand the sucker punches that happen to even those of us with the best of intentions, and sometimes life unexpectedly leaves you grasping to hold on.
For a moment there, I barely held on.
And so I’m thankful, that today, even when my 4 year old must have interrupted my asking him why he wasn’t listening to me with “But I’ve got to tell you something!” 783 times in a row, I can finally appreciate him. I can finally appreciate both of them. Instead of a crying toddler adding to the overwhelming exhausted, frustrated, isolated, and lonely feelings, I can see an adorable preschooler trying to sucker me out of a punishment with his crocodile tears. Instead of hearing all of the incessant “mommmyyyy guess what” shouts as something interrupting the insurmountable load of work I’ll never get done, I now hear it as an invitation to share the thoughts of an inquisitive little man.
And for that reason, I will always be thankful that our path on this adventure is the one less traveled, even though it is far from perfect. Most people will never understand, and frankly I’m happy for them that they never have to.
But as for me, my heart is finally healing, and I couldn’t ask for more.
(p.s., they are still exhausting, sorry for the lack of posts!)