One afternoon a song came on the radio with the title of “Bye, Mom,” referencing the heartbreak of a mother watching her children grow and spread their wings. I was overcome with complete sadness, because yes, I hate the thought of all my kids growing older — but the song took on a different meaning for me when I thought about my four-year old daughter who leaves every other weekend. I realized at that moment that I would hear “bye, Mom” more than I ever wanted to.
Those feelings stirred something up in me and I started to reflect on the weight of what every other weekend carries and the pain that a mother feels.
Every other weekend, I pick you up from school on Friday and rush home so I can savor every bit of the couple hours I have with you before you have to leave me again.
Every other weekend, I get you all packed up and meticulously make sure you have everything you need because it tears me apart that I am not there to help you in case you might need something.
Every other weekend, I watch the minutes on the clock and as time gets closer and closer my tears fall harder and harder.
Every other weekend, I watch you kiss your brothers and bonus dad goodbye and they cling to you before you walk out.
Every other weekend, I hold you for as long as you let me and hide the tears, even though I am a terrible faker and you know it.
Every other weekend, I watch a truck pull up and resist the urge to pull you back in the door.
Every other weekend, I watch my whole world walk down the sidewalk as I catch one last glimpse of your little frame and blonde hair.
Every other weekend, I watch your toddler brother throw his body on the floor as he realizes you just left, and my heart breaks even more because you have so many people that love you. He will ask where you are all weekend long and I don’t have the guts to tell him.
Every other weekend, when you pull away I say a prayer. I pray that you are happy, healthy and safe when you are not in my presence and pray that you always know how much you are missed and loved.
Every other weekend, I become numb with thinking of what you are doing. Are you watching TV? Are you playing outside? Are you happy? Are you sad?
Every other weekend, I must wear the “look” because the whole family says “You are missing her, aren’t you?”
Every other weekend, I clean your room and make it perfect for when you come home. It helps to be in your space with your things.
The Monday after “every other weekend”, I race to school to get you because I can’t take it another minute. I pull you in close and hold you tight and I do that until you leave again. I know this is how it has to be and most people say I need to get used to it, but since day one you have been my girl and I prefer you with me and not away from me.
Those two weeks with you fly by — and I dread the heartbreak of every other weekend.