I’m at a writer’s residency, and Reed has been at my parents’ house. He is headed back to his dad’s tomorrow.
“Are you excited to go back to your dad’s?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“Are you sad to be leaving your grandparents?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said again.
Then he said, “I guess I just wish I was going home to you.”
And my heart broke.
After reading my writing, the first question that people always ask me is Does your son still see his father?
My answer is usually followed by the question Does your ex-husband…….? They can never say fully say it, but I know what they’re getting at, and I always answer, “My ex-husband doesn’t abuse our son.”
What I have learned is that sometimes abusers are women abusers but not child abusers, or child abusers but not women abusers. Sometimes abusers are some other variation of abuser that is neither of those things.
But what I have found myself saying lately is, “My ex-husband does not abuse our son, but my son still prefers to be with me because my ex-husband is a dick.”
It’s probably not the most articulate way of describing my family situation, but it’s all that I have.
Sometimes I feel judged because I haven’t fought harder to get sole custody of my son.
There are a few reasons for this:
One is that I don’t think I could get it (many states don’t factor domestic violence perpetrated on the mother into custody decisions).
Another is that Reed loves his dad and doesn’t want to hurt his dad’s feelings, and I believe in respecting Reed’s wishes.
And the final is that I enjoy the time that I have alone.
I am always amazed by how much pressure our society puts on single mothers to want to be the sole providers for our children.
The truth is that I want to have 50/50 custody with my ex-husband. I adore my son, but single parenting is hard, and if we had 50/50 custody, then maybe I wouldn’t feel so alone in this.
The truth is also that I know that I can’t have 50/50 custody with my ex-husband becaus my ex-husband is simply not fit for 50/50 custody.
The truth is also that, if my son ever wants to live with his dad full-time, I will absolutely respect that decision, but I know that is never going to happen.
I am always going to be doing this primarily on my own, and that was never part of my plan.
I crashed and lost consciousness when I was in labor with Reed. Caleb was holding my hand, and I said, “I feel funny.” I could see the fear in his eyes, then I heard a loud beeeeeep, and saw nothing but darkness.
When I woke up, the first thing I saw was my mother standing at my feet.
The look in her eyes. The terror. I’ll never forget it.
The first thing I said–whimpered really–was, I’m sorry.
The anesthesiologist had to shoot ephedrine into me, and then, my heart rate was up to 170 beats per minute for the remainder of the labor.
It was as though I was running a marathon, and I kept apologizing the entire time. I was so sorry for the ways in which I was inconveniencing everyone around me.
I was so, so sorry.
That is how I feel during the school year. My heart is racing, racing, racing, and I cannot come up for air.
I am always so sorry for the things I ask of other people.
I always want to be able to do it on my own, and I can’t.
The summer is when I finally breathe.
I want to be able to breathe.
Last week, I flew into Seattle and spent a few days with two of my friends from before Caleb. We drank wine, hot-tubbed, and reminisced. We talked about the men we had known from our time together. We cyber stalked those men. We went to the beach, and I got a sunburn that is still peeling now.
The friend that we stayed with has a really wonderful husband who I am very fond of, and they have created an equitable life together. My other friend has the same kind of relationship.
I want that kind of relationship.
I am the loner. Always.
I was the loner before I met Caleb too. Talking to my friends reminded me of this.
Maybe that is why he targeted me. Maybe that is why he saw something vulnerable in me.
Still, my friends seem to trust me. They trust that I am doing the right thing, and they trust that I am going to be okay.
Their trust inspires me to want to earn it.
I want to be better at this than I am.
I want to end up with a person who respects me. Who treats me like an equal.
And who adores me.
And maybe, finally, I am understanding that I might be alone because of those wants.
I guess that’s okay too, although being alone is not my first choice.
But the truth is also that maybe being alone is my first choice. I love the life that I have. I am at a writer’s residency where I am being fed delicious meals prepared by a nutritionist. Tonight, I went for a long jog on a beautiful road through a forest while Mount Rainier peeked through the trees. I came back to the residency and talked to my new friends before taking a shower, and now, I’m sitting in the library alone, hogging the WiFi, and writing this blog post.
A week ago, I was doing this:
It is summer. I am breathing, and I am living the life that everyone dreams of.
Everyone wants the life that I have now.
But it can’t last.
In a month, I will be racing, racing, racing again.
Still, I have had more training.
I might tire, but I have more stamina.
My heart can handle it now.