It’s Friday night, and I am sitting by the fire outside on my deck surrounded by empty chocolate bar wrappers and graham cracker crumbs, watching my dogs lick burnt marshmallow off the chairs. I grilled chicken and pigged out on s’mores with my kids tonight, then they went and spent the weekend with their father.
As they stuffed their backpacks with clothes and their favorite lovies for their two nights away, I looked down at the disorder, and instead of feeling anxious, I shrugged. I can clean it later, there will be no more messes made by my kids for the rest of the weekend, and these are remnants of time well spent. I feel content, and I’m thankful I reached this point because I never thought I would.
The sounds of laughter and clomping feet as they run in and out are gone. Now all I can hear is silence, the occasional phantom “Mom?” and my own thoughts.
This is the part that used to break me in two when my husband and I discussed separating many months ago. So much so, we both tried to hold on a little too long, afraid of breaking up our family, losing time with our precious kids.
I was overwhelmed by the thought of missing my kids, knowing they would be away from me for days at a time on a regular basis made me face the fact I was also afraid of being alone with myself. I thought the sound of silence might not only hurt my ears, it would also hurt my heart even more; being alone with my thoughts in a big, empty house coupled with splitting from my husband would be too much for me to take.
I had visions of my ex and I meeting at McDonald’s, exchanging stiff smiles. I pictured them pulling away in his truck, seeing the backs of their heads, and crying into the steering wheel, not knowing what to do with myself for the next 48 hours.
I had no idea if I would be okay until the day arrived. But when it did, we didn’t meet at McDonald’s and exchange stiff smiles. He came over, stayed for dinner, then took the kids to his place. Despite our new circumstances and separate living quarters, we both still have the need to feel like a family, and I feel lucky and happy about the way we handle our weekends. I know it’s not always the case for others.
My first weekend alone, I booked myself right up hoping it would cushion the blow. I worked, I baked, I read, I had lunch and dinner out with friends. I got a facial, I binge-watched Girlfriends Guide To Divorce until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Then I let the dog sleep with me, and I spooned him all night.
I woke up, and after sleeping in for the first time in over a decade, I took the longest shower of my life. Nobody banging on the door, and the water ran hot the entire time. I’d run out of plans, and I let myself be still and have a much needed cry, and it was all fucking amazing.
It was then I realized I was going to be okay, that we were all going to be okay.
I missed my kids. I missed waking up to them and their morning snuggles. I missed their smell, the sounds of their voices infiltrating the house at all hours. I missed having breakfast with them and playing in the backyard. But there’s one thing I have discovered during my weekends alone, something I didn’t expect, and that is how much I’ve missed myself.
And after four or so weekends of being alone, I am finally convinced it’s not selfish or bad to have missed the old me.
I feel happy and free because I believe with my whole being I am in the exact space and situation I am supposed to be in right now. And really, I don’t have a choice about being alone almost half the time; my almost-20-year relationship is ending, and finding ways to get to know me again is healing my heart and soul. It’s getting me through. It is vital and necessary, and I need to embrace it.
The moments I wonder if I we are making a mistake still come and go, and I still feel pain and sadness, but I refuse to spend all of my time alone feeling sorry for myself while my kids are spending quality time with their amazing father. They need it, he needs it, and honestly, everyone (especially me) needs me to be okay when they are gone.
And I am okay, because slurping noodles from Chinese food takeout containers, being able to read a whole book in a weekend, or going out with my best girls is the best therapy I could ask for. I didn’t expect to be in this place, but this is my new normal, and I’m going to face it head on.
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