“I won’t be a Mom any more”
We went to see The Fault in our Stars last night. I’ve recently finished the book, having read it at weird times of night when I couldn’t sleep, and I enjoyed it but didn’t find myself reaching for the Kleenex. I figured the film would probably be the same, so naturally I didn’t bother to take any Kleenex (other brands of tissue are available, obvs). Needless to say, I cried like a baby. It was that line, you see. That “I won’t be a mom any more” line, which was gasped by the mother of huge terminally ill protagonist at some touch-and-go point in her illness (she survived that particular setback, if you’re interested).
I know why that line got to me. It got to me because it was my children’s weekend with their dad, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how 50/50 contact makes me feel like 50% of a parent. It struck me, as people around me blew their noses (having prudently remembered their Kleenex) and sniffled about the tragedy of huge story, that my children were somewhere else and I had no idea what they were doing or how they were. It’s hardly comparable to the situation the mother in the movie found herself in, but it occurred to me that I feel so completely rubbish as a parent when they’re off at their dad’s. Like I’m not a mum when they’re not with me.
I’m pretty certain they were having a typical Saturday night in their dad’s house. The toddler would most likely have been asleep, and the boys would either have been battling with one another or plotting against their dad. All fairly typical of what happens when they’re with me. That wasn’t really the point, though. The point was that I’m so used to being around them 24/7. I’m used to seeing, hearing and being involved in the minutiae of their every day lives. I knew about every grumble and every laugh; I flushed the unflushed loos and kissed skint knees. Suddenly, half of their life is a complete unknown to me and that has really, unexpectedly hit me hard.
I mean, they’re with their dad. He’s a good parent, and he’s been a stay-at-home dad for almost two and a half years, so they’re used to having him around. He knows what they like to eat and he’s more than capable of kissing skint knees and flushing the loo. They’re safe, they’re well and they’re happy. That’s all good. But they’re not with me and I miss them so much it makes me feel physically sick.
I sometimes lie awake at night and wonder if my toddler is awake. I wonder if she’s looking for me, asking for Mummy Milk and wondering why I’m not there. I wonder if the boys are missing me, and if they really feel it when I’m not around. The best and worst part of it all is that I think they’re doing just fine.