Sunday, June 14, 2009

He's With His Father

Oh, I spent a quarter of our drive home from our barbecue in Brooklyn yesterday crying in the car. You see, even if my child is being fresh by telling me so rudely, "I'm mad at you, Mommy, you're not my Mom," because I won't let him have chocolate milk for breakfast, I miss him. I miss him, I miss him, I miss him. It hurts my brain and my body how much I miss him. And when we're at a barbecue in Park Slope with other children his own age, I miss him more.

I know he's having a wonderful time with his dad. They went bike riding. They went to baseball practice. They built Lego houses. But you know what? He's not with me.

Look, this is a thing that divorced parents and their kids have to deal with. Sometimes your kid is going to be with the other person and you're going to walk into his bedroom at 8pm wishing he was home. You'll make his bed, even though you're trying to get him to make his bed on his own. You'll put his stuffed animals that he forgot to take to his dad's house neatly in a row on the pillow. You'll clean up his Star Wars action figures, even though, yes, you're trying to get him to clean his own room. And you'll pace some more. And you'll cry. And you hope that he's not missing you as much as you're missing him, because if he is, it'll break your heart. And though you've been doing this for four years already, you'll never get used to it. Never. Never. Never.

"Can you try to think of it as some time to yourself?" my girlfriend said. "Every other mother on the planet just wants more time. Now, look, here you have some."

"I could," I said, "except that because it's every other weekend, it feels so unnatural. Everyone else has their kids at home driving them crazy, and I have the weekend off. It's just not right. It feels wrong." Not that Jake doesn't have sleepovers with his Nonnie and his Uncle David. (And I miss him then too.) He's in Pre-K. I'm away from him for most of the day. But it's not the same when he's with his dad.

It's about having to share him with someone else -- someone who doesn't live in my house.

I have the BETTER end of the bargain. I get Jake 75 percent of the time. Cason gets him every other weekend for a night and one to two days out of the week. (Custody arrangements were for the entire weekend, but Jake started asking to come home early. Thanks to Cason and his flexibility, Jake now goes there Saturday to Sunday right now.)

But this weekend was not my weekend. And this is how it goes when talking to someone who doesn't know us at said barbecue in Park Slope:

New Person: Congratulations on your new baby!

Me: Thank you. [I kiss Elke on the temple]

New Person: Just wait until she's six months. She'll grow into a totally new person.

Me: Oh, I know. I have a five-year-old.

New Person: Oh. [Looking around] Where is he?

Me: He's with his father.

New Person looks at Andy, assuming that Andy was the ONLY dad, but now realizes that's not the case. I nod, grab a chip and make my way into another room. I'm sorry, I don't know how to segue from that unless I spill my guts about our family, and I just don't feel like doing that every time I meet someone new. So I walk away. Me and New Person can bond over brownies at the end of the barbecue. I try to think about something else. About my beautiful daughter. Or about tomorrow, that Jake will be home tomorrow. I try to talk to other adults about anything but children.

In the car ride home, I called Jake to say goodnight and suggested an iChat to Cason. We had never done one, but he agreed.

"An iChat?" Andy said, when I got off the phone. "You're going to see Jake tomorrow."

"Let's say Elke was at someone's house every other weekend until she was 18. Wouldn't you miss her?" I asked.

He looked back at her, sleeping in her little baby seat and nodded.

"Just because I don't tell you anymore how much I miss him, it doesn't mean that I don't think about him all the time," I said.

"So do the iChat, then," Andy said. "It'll make you feel better."

(Side note in Andy's defense to anyone at all thinking he's being insensitive - which he'll readily admit to at any other time in his life, but this time, that's not the case. Andy is a FULL ON stepdaddy with Jake. Jake is in that I-don't-want-you-Mommy-all-I-want-is-Andy-and-that-includes-him-wiping-my-ass phase. So when Andy gets a break from Jake, he takes it. He rests so that he can wrestle for three hours straight, then play Mario Kart Wii, then wrestle again, then read four books as Jake sits on the potty and will not let anyone read to him while making a poop except Andy.)

So this morning, we set up an iChat with Jake. And he loved it. "No, stay!" Jake said as I was signing off. "I'll see you at the birthday party later. Your dad is taking you there and I'm picking you up. Okay, honey?"

Then my adorable son played peek-a-boo with his sister on iChat. And told me a few bad knock-knock jokes. I blew kisses to the computer. He blew them back.

Last night when he was back in bed at home, I smothered him with kisses to which he covered his face, then hugged me in a death-like choke hold. My boy was back in his bed.

And there we go... the weekend's over.


  1. When I was younger my mom and dad shared custody of us and it was hard on everyone. The way you and your husband and ex-husband are handling the situation is great. Though it might not be the ideal situation it seems to be working.

    Hang in there!

    Hugs and Mocha,

  2. Thank you so much ladies. And you're right stesha, it's not ideal. But we're doing the best we can. You get what you're dealt with in life, right? I was determined to make a difficult situation... GOOD.



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