Single mama see-saw
Being a single or divorced parent is like being on a see-saw with a person double your size on the other end. The highs can flip you off the damn thing and the lows slam you to the ground.
My son spent a few days over the Christmas break with his dad, with whom he hadn’t had an overnight visit in about 4 months. I was excited for him to spend some precious uninterrupted time with his father, but sad that I would spend Christmas evening alone. Add to that a profound sense of worry–not that his father wouldn’t take good care of him, but that the irregularity of the visits and complete disruption of routine would wreak havoc on the delicate peace we create in our home otherwise.
I therefore spend the time apart from my son simultaneously feeling a heightened sense of anticipation and vague sense of impending doom.
The fulfillment of both never fails.
Xan challenges every rule upon his return, tries to maneuver every inch into a mile, fashions each molehill into Mt. Everest. It’s miserable waiting so eagerly for your son’s return home, only to have to argue and push, prod, and struggle so much upon his arrival. Some of his favorite new Christmas toys now sit in the attic, waiting to be released from lock up.
By this morning, I was angry; this evening, I was spent. When he refused to participate in a class that he claims to love, I wearily did an about-face and took him home only 2 minutes in.
After we returned home, he stomped off into his room. He stayed for about 20 minutes, giving us both a much-needed time out. He then slinked into the living room and climbed into my lap and curled himself into me. Though over 4 feet tall and precocious as all get out, there is still so much of the small child left in him.
We talked and I told him that though I understood that he missed his dad and had worries and frustrations about seeing him again, he had to learn to deal with those frustrations in a way that was not destructive to our home and other people’s feelings, even mine.
“I’m your mom,” I explained, “but I am also a person, a person with feelings that get hurt.”
He apologized and we strategized. Knowing that I love sweets, he offered to buy me a donut at Shipley’s with money from his piggy bank. I told him I had a better idea. We bundled up, and I took him on an impromptu visit to the food truck where his father is now working. He was thrilled, gave his dad a hug, and listened as his father talked to him about behaving at home and treating me and others with respect.
When we came home, we did a collage together, hoping that during some of the tough times, looking at the collage might help him come back to center. He cut out images that made him happy and showed me where to smear the glue, and the result is below.
I especially love the image of the boy about to take flight.