If you’re new here, you’ll want to read Pain Runs Through My Veins first or this post won’t make any sense.
I took Jacob and Abbie shopping for shoes.
The stew of emotions I feel when I’m with them? Intense. Complex, like so:
Which makes me tired, but they are also having their own intense and complex feelings, so we bounce on each other like billiard balls, me against them, them against me, all of us rattling.
What is acutely obvious, though? Is that they are family with each other in the easy, comfortable way that they used to be family with me.
Yeah, that hurts.
Because I miss them. Oh, I miss them so much, so when we’re together and everything is stilted and awkward? My heart hurts.
The more they refuse to talk, the more they act like the sullen teenagers that they are, the more I act like an asshole, trying to recapture the relationships we had a decade ago.
I tease and tickle and tell stupid jokes, try to resurrect old games, and they are usually dizzy with repetitive eye-rolling before I catch myself.
What can I say? My panic that they will never come back to me makes me slow and stupid, like I’m trying to think through half-frozen molasses.
After I was finished pretending that my children were the children they used to be and I was the mom I used to be, we had a lovely time. We drank lemonade; we bought shoes; they even talked a little bit.
Parenting is like a game of push-me-pull-you. When they were brand new, I was always excited to see what they would do next – roll, crawl, talk, walk – and simultaneously dreading the next stage because that would mean that this stage (whichever one we were in at the time) would be over.
That’s why most parents cry on the first day of kindergarten; the simultaneous feelings of bursting-with-pride and grieving for the baby-that-was is too much and it spills over, even for the most unsentimental among us.
I want to be with Jacob and Abbie. I crave, desire, yearn for their presence when they are not here.
And yet? Being with them is very difficult. There are so many feelings bubbling just beneath the surface. Their anger pushes against my guilt. Their pain rubs my anger. My pain triggers their guilt. Resentments express themselves in a thousand unavoidable ways.
I want them to come home to me.
But life is simpler the way it is now.
I love to see that they know what they need and have found a way to get that.
But I hate that what they need is not me, or not me very much.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.*
When I dropped them off at their dad’s house after we were done shopping, I cried. Not from the sadness, or from the relief, or from the guilt about the relief.
I cried because the collision of all of those feelings was thunderous. Overwhelming. It spilled over.
* * *
Hey, when you’re done here, come on over to Nichole’s place and read my guest post! I wrote for her lovely Small Moments Mondays series. Sometimes, I force a small moment because really, around here? I can’t always wait for something to happen to brighten my mood. And I’m kind of a bulldozer by nature anyway.
Sigh. Yes, I know you’re not surprised to hear that I’m a bulldozer. Go read it anyway!