Do you ever have a thought, feeling or emotion that rattles around in your head for, oh, let’s say, weeks? Maybe months? The problem is your not sure how to express it. Or even if you should? Here’s mine.
This year my son will turn twenty and I’ve missed half of his life.
Let me explain. If I can.
I left my first husband when our son was three months old. Within the first year I agreed (begrudgingly) to a custody arrangement that was a 50/50 split of time. Over the years that has meant alternating house every three days, four days or seven days. At times it was confusing (mostly for other people) but it seemed to work. Bottom line, my son has spent half of his twenty years living away from me.
There’s no blame here. No looking back in anger. It was what it was and its history.
But here’s the thing. It’s a weird feeling knowing that so many things that your child has experienced were not with you. That during those days away you had idea where he was, who he was with or what he was thinking. There are so many experiences, emotions and moments that I have no history of. No pictures, no memories, no knowledge what so ever.
I’m not wallowing in pity either. I know that he grew up loved by so many people and so far has had an amazing life. It’s just an observation I’ve made in the past while. I was struck one day by the fact that for days at a time I had no contact of any kind with him.
The hardest thing to do every week was not to pepper him with questions the minute he walked through the door. Sometimes I was successful and sometimes not so much. I just wanted to know what he had done. What had he eaten. How had he felt. Had he been happy? Had he had a hard week?
Boys, as some of you may know, can be….um….lacking in details when it comes to what they’ve been doing.
“How was school?”
“What did you do?”
“Who were you with”
I’m not sure if it is despite of or because of our arrangements that he has grown up to be a smart, caring, happy young man. There have been trying times for him but I believe the same could be said for other boys his age who have grown up in a more conventional setting.
He’s not home much anymore. Between work, school, friends and having his own car we are lucky to get a dinner once a week. Oh and the odd “what can I eat?” at 1:00 pm after rolling out of bed. Again, not judging, just observing.
I also know that going forward there won’t be as many family vacations, day trips or ski days and that’s okay. I’m happy that he is happy and moving on into his adult years. A parents job is to ready their children to make it on their own in the world and I am confident that he will do just that. I’m hoping that when that happens there will be the odd phone call home to say, ask how long to roast a chicken?
It’s so hard to put these feelings into words. The feeling that I’ve missed a lot but have still been given so much.
I suppose in some ways it has prepared me for the next stage of our lives. I’m not that worried about him not being around all the time.
The Best Thing in Life is silver linings.