My son is 17, an exchange student to Thailand, for the year. My daughter is 12 and two days ago I took her to Seattle and met the X. He took her back over the mountains. They plan to be back on Christmas Eve.
I feel like my brain has melted.
We are three and a half years out from the divorce. Summer, 2006. For the three years before that we were separated for a year, together for a year, separated for a year. When we separated, the X said that he would take the kids on Wednesday night and every other weekend. "I'm not going to take them on call weekends," he said, "that will teach you a lesson."
One call weekend early on I took the kids and sleeping bags in to the hospital. There is a fancy hospice room with a fold out couch. We went up the back stairs. I changed in to scrubs and went by the desk. The unit secretary looked up. "Staying?" she said, "Do you have a labor patient?" "Nope," I said. She was looking down to the far end of the hallway, where one of my kids was visible. "I'll be in the hospice room." "Oh," she said. "We'll make sure no one comes in." I told my daughter to wake her brother and have him page me if she got scared. She was 6. For some unfathomable reason, we don't have a call room to stay in. No one bothered us.
My son protested when my X told him the schedule. "No!" he said, "I want 50/50!" My X ignored him. And the divorce plan was that if he moved out of town, he could have the kids for summers and alternate holidays, but it was optional. The receiving parent would pay for the travel. "I might not have the money," he said. He said he'd stay close to the kids, then he said he wouldn't, then he said he would. I tried not to listen. The kids stopped listening too.
He moved to Colorado one week after the divorce was final. Threw everything in a rented van. I worried, worried that my children would fall apart but the opposite happened: they both relaxed. Dad was unpredictable and my daughter was frank about not liking Wednesday night. "He picks us up late. He hasn't shopped yet. He shops and then cooks dinner. I'm starved. We don't eat until 8 and then there is no time to do anything and I have to go to bed." For weekends, he always took them to a friends. His friends. They would hang out.
He did stay in touch. He calls at least five nights a week. He stays connected. But the kids did not go for holidays: he came here. Cheaper. And I am here, so he can play and I can do the parenting.
Two summers ago, the kids were supposed to go to Colorado. My daughter started having nightmares and me too. She dreamed that the adult in charge of the daycare was missing and "there was a man who we knew was sick but not contagious. He was dressed in women's clothes". The daycare was in the courthouse in the dream. She left, with the other kids' help, to get me.
My dream that night was that we were bicycling. My daughter fell, bike and all, into a deep hole. She was unconscious, face down, in water. I was with two male bicycle friends. "I need a rope!" They shrugged. "Take off your tights!" I tied the ankles together and belayed down and flipped her, in time. I waited for the ambulance and woke up.
I took the dreams to my counselor. "I don't think she should go to Colorado without me." "Nope," said the counselor. We went, and I stayed with old friends. It was fine.
So this is the first time in years that I haven't had parent responsibility. They are both gone. A friend who raised her son alone laughed at me yesterday. "You are unhooked from parenting. Unhinged." I feel unhinged. It feels like I am floating and detached and weightless. Not anchored. I am letting myself float.
Take a single parent under your wing, just for an hour or a minute. They hold up the sky for at least half the world.