Missing them

My house is quiet.  And empty.  And quiet.  Of course, it’s 11pm, so even if my boys were here, it would be relatively quiet.  Except Tornado S snores.  And someone is always turning over.  And someone gets out of bed once, twice, three times a night.  Even though it’s night and quiet, if they were here, the house would feel . . . full.

I’ve had the boys five nights in a row, and I hate when I have to turn them over.  My house, my life seems so empty and quiet and dull.  When I signed up for this parenting gig, I knew for next ten years or more my life would be wrapped around their lives.  Not in a complete, my-kids-are-my-life way, but in a dinner-has-to-have-one-child-friendly-part way or weekdays-are-for-homework-and-child-activities way or a-sitter-needs-to-be-hired-a-week-in-advanced-for-a-few-hours-a-couple-of-times-a-month way, a vacations-will-mainly-be-about-the-kids way, a money-goes-to-kids’-needs-and-most-wants-before-my-wants way.  Let’s just face it.  I will never be one of those moms who is excited the ex is taking the kids for the weekend.

Every time I think about the ex having 50% custody or that the judge added her opinion of calling me “restrictive and unreasonable” over custody for those nearly 3 years of separation in the ruling, I get angry.  It’s not my fault that the ex decided he preferred to visit the kids on his time when he wanted to at my house, but that’s how his lawyer made it look.  Like I was keeping the kids away from their father.  The ex lied and said that I knew he was  living with his girlfriend (instead of the alcoholic roommate that he told me he was living with, which I didn’t want exposed to my kids) and that I refused to let my kids over to their place.

So it sucks.  Because I don’t always get to talk to them every night, even when I call every night.  Because I can tell they’re not getting enough sleep.  Because we don’t get to do all the crafts, activities, and science experiments I want to do with them.  Because they are adjusting.  Because this is hard on them.  Because I don’t get to cook and bake for them every day.  Because they are pushing at the boundaries and exhibiting unhealthy coping strategies.  Because I don’t have the money to take them to counseling anymore.  Because part of my heart resides somewhere else and I feel helpless to protect them when they aren’t here.

With any luck, I’ll have them tomorrow because the ex works and it’s summer and I’m a teacher.  We’ll fight over doing workbooks, and I’ll send someone to time out for hitting his brother.  We’ll go grocery shopping and maybe to the craft store for supplies for Papi’s birthday present.  We’ll argue over video game playing and candy.  I’ll listen to Tornado S read, and I’ll continue to teach Tornado A to swim, and I’ll have interesting conversations with Tornado E about superheroes or Skylanders or dragons or animals.  Tomorrow is going to be a great day.

All mine

I have never lived alone.

I was too poor.  I always had to have roommates.  Then I was young when I shacked up and young when I got married.  (Not young for my family.  As my mom helped me into my wedding dress, she noted that she was pregnant with her first child at my age.  I patted my flat belly and was grateful that I was not.)  So it was always a group decision over where anything went where.

I had not had a space that was wholly my own since I moved out of my parents’ house.  I lamented the fact here a couple of years ago, how I couldn’t go anywhere to be because it was always group space.  Many of my readers understood and wrote about husbands having garages, home offices, man caves.  We were regulated to a desk, a corner, a kitchen.  While I am the mistress of my domain, it’s sort of like being proud of your cubicle.  It’s yours; you control it; you do great work.  But in the end, no matter how awesome the job is, it’s still work, and you need to get away once in a while. 

With these thoughts swirling around my head as well as the impending responsibilities and the weight of being all alone, I stood in the middle of a large kitchen, surrounded with boxes, shell-shocked, overwhelmed, eating a frozen dessert, while boys raced and screamed.  There was no one to consult with where glasses should go or which drawer silverware should be.  It was all mine.  There was no one to argue over where the plates should be or why we had to have a jar of vitamins no one takes.  It was all mine.  There was no one to suggest that picture should go on this wall, that couch should be over there, the bed should be here, and those boxes should be moved there.  It was all mine.

It was my decision.  Mine alone.  And everything needed to be just right, just perfect, organized for the most use and efficiency.  I was alone.  I had three boys.  In a few months, I was planning on returning to school.  This house had to run like a well-oiled machine.

I ate more of my dessert, trying not to hyperventilating.

“Fae, it doesn’t have to be perfect.”  My best friend’s voice whispering in my head.  She always used this voice, calm and soothing, pushing back against the harshness of my need for perfection when my A personality side comes out to dominate, order, rearrange the world.  Peace descended on me.

“I can always rearrange.”  I put down the cup and started working, enjoying the heady feeling of having each decision be truly all mine, like waiting in line to ride the new rollercoaster. 

I realized the kitchen was mine.  I could organize it how I needed it.  The family room was mine.  I could arrange it for the perfect play room.  The living room was mine.  I’ll get to pick the furniture.  The bedroom was mine.  It won’t have piles of dirty laundry on the floor.  The office was mine.  Papers would be organized and not lying around for months waiting to be filed or tossed.  It was all mine.

So was all the work to unpack all those boxes.