Friday, August 28, 2009

Spring and Then Falling

There are no seasons here. Here, we mark the passage of time by sports and visitation rights.

T's baseball and more baseball and track and regional track and play dates and sleepovers and me biking and some bike races and more baseball practice and baseball games and somehow May slurs into June.

More baseball, biking, a bike crash on my head. T's graduation from third grade, end of the year parties, goodbyes with best friends, sleepovers, play dates, swimming pools, cousins, state track and then All Stars and maybe track nationals but there would be no nationals because he is .2 seconds too slow, and there would be no All Stars because there is visitation looming.

T says one morning: "It is like we just woke up one day and the snow was hardly melted and the rain had hardly stopped and now it's about to be sunny and nice and I have to go to California."

EndGrade 3.
End baseball.
End track.

6 weeks of summer visitation.
June 26, 2009 at 9 a.m.

Neither of us are ready for it and on the way to the airport that day my nine year old baby cries and asks: "but why can't I have a vacation with you momma, why can't I stay and play with my team in the All Stars? Why can't I stay here?"

We try our best to hold one another tight those last few nights. We also cry and we also dance and we also sing and all the while we try to make the most of every moment and yet just keep on living life and some other bullshit lines I feed him.

And then it still finally comes, that anticipated day at the end of June, and T goes to California and I cry half the way home and then we both put our happy faces on and we just do it, because as T says: "it's really all you can do, isn't it, Momma?"


Three weeks (in to visitation):
I catch up at work for the first time...ever. I hold my friend's babies and make them laugh. I ride and race and laugh and camp in the middle of nowhere. I stay up late and sleep in and ride my bike everywhere in between. I am in the middle of some woods with a man I always loved and yet suddenly I find myself looking very differently at. And then, just as quickly as he appears, he leaves; turns around for a goodbye kiss that lingers somehow: sweet anticipation, wonder and intense longing; just a thousand two hundred miles, in the opposite direction.

Then I am in sunny California, on the beach with my kid, he buries me in the sand and me him. Five days, just T and me, holding one another, laughing, running, eating, movies, snuggling while he cries big, confused alligator tears.

Four weeks (in to visitation):
I have no clue what my kid is doing or who is caring for him because they won't tell me and this fact, it sneaks up on me in the strangest moments, makes my heart lurch, my stomach flip in a pukey sort of way. I stop listening to NPR. I stop with the radio. It all scares me, keeps me up at night.

Five weeks (in to visitation):
I am on my bike a full week. I pedal away my lonely, pedal away my summer, pedal away my angst, pedal and sneak away to call that guy from the woods, hide at the corner of tiny towns to steal a few minutes on the phone with my kid.

I pedal. Escape. I love love every single second of the laughter, the reconnection, the remembering who I am, without him.
It is such simple solitude, happiness revealed again. Oh how long it's been.
Ten years, July 29. Ten, to be precise.

Six weeks (in to visitation):
I am again in sunny California, I bring him home...but yet at the same time, I drag a perpetual stranger into my home. My baby who left nine years old and returned 10.

My baby. My kid. A Stranger.

Six days (post visitation):
He spews forth atrocities from the mouths of his other parents and I ensue six days of hell, hold it together with duct tape while he parrots: she said this, my dad said this...none of it anything good or noble or true or productive and all of it about me; bad, bad terrible me and T constantly asks: "why momma? why?"

Seven days (post visitation):
There is another visit. Here, or around here.

My people swoop in and save me...again. They provide their beautiful baby to snuggle, ears, a bed, hand-crafted meals, and laughter and gorging on food eating and sleep and recharging for another week.

Ten days (post summer visitation, one day post weekend visitation):
My grandma is dying or pretending to die, two hours a day of tackle football and then school and me busier at work than I've been in a year. There is trying to stuff a little man into big man's football attire. There is laughing our butts off at this phenomenon and yet at the same time I drive him there to drop him off wholly unable to shake this feeling like I've lost him somehow, that my baby is just plain and simply, gone.

Last night (Two weeks six days, post summer visitation /12 days post weekend visitation):
I am caught in a meeting south of town. He is east of town. Practice is west of town. His uniform? In the dryer in the middle of town. I find him, help dress him in his crazy padded armor and we are both nervous and anxious about the time as I drive him there to drop him off and we both don't say it but we both know he's going to be late and he's going to have to do push ups and as we sit there at the last stop light I finally say: "I'm sorry, baby. I'm so sorry buddy."

He turns to me and he says: "Don't worry momma, if I have to do push ups I'll do push ups, and I have to do sit ups, I'll do sit ups and it's not that big of a deal." He adds, "I know you're doing the best you can and you had to work I love you momma," he says, and then he jumps from the back seat of the car and he sprints to the huddle.

I pull around the corner, on my way to buy supplies for his 10th birthday party, only one month late because of summer visitation and weekend visitation and school and football practices and football pictures and I pull over, tears finally brimming over, unable to drive.


He's not totally gone and I know this. Ten years is a little more than half way to 18 years, which on some level makes us only half way there. And even then, I'm told, you don't stop worrying, you don't move on. Your work is never done.

He also likes to remind me that no matter what, he'll never leave me, my house...even when he's in college.

And even now, luckily, he still wants me there watching him, listening, cheering him on, but instead of protecting him, his body, cultivating his personality, his manners, and tending to his every need I now watch others teach him to throw his body on the line. I hear about his manners when others report back. I note more often than not he feels the overwhelming need to protect me now, instead of me protecting him.

Time in those earlier years, it crept by...marked by hours gained and lost of sleep, a new tooth, a poop in a big boy toilet, a bonk to the head, another night's lost sleep, a nightmare, monsters in the closet. Time no longer comes in chunks and pieces though, it is wholly liquid; time is also no longer marked by what I can provide him in a moment, an hour, a month.

It is instead marked by his choices, his desires, his passions, him carefully crafting his own passions, desires, flight.

Each hurried morning this occurs to me anew as I stumble cold and naked from the shower: I've lost him here too. As of this past visitation, he no longer sits, perched on the stool, chatting me up while I rush to comb my hair, brush my teeth.

He's downstairs now, letting the dogs out, feeding them, pouring Frosted Flakes and milk all over the kitchen counter and floor, and then shhhh-ing me as he watches SportsCenter, catching up on his teams from the night before.

I dreamed of this, I wanted this, I never thought I'd see felt so endless, the shitty diapers, the incessent ear infections, hospital visits, the puking in my bed, the skinned knees, the learning to ride a bike, the first everythings with no one there to share them, the temper tantrums in Target, the quest for a single poop in solitude. The gradual breaking away of two of us, doing and being everything together, our identities inexplicably intertwined.

Yet he's much too quickly become the big kid I'd dreamed he'd be, and I wonder in my moments of increasing solitude, really, just what I'll do with myself when he just as quickly, becomes that man, who I will become, and with whom I'll share my nights, my days.

In the meantime, I drink up this time with my growing like crazy little man; wide-eyed, a little nervous and somewhat road weary.

I try my best to properly mourn the time slipping by, stay present in each moment, while at the same time....for the first time, I look forward with hope, for the two separate people we'll become grown apart from one another: glimpses apart marked with equal parts of hope together, loneliness and sweet anticipation. The next steps.


  1. How well you write..i read a book today during my 2 whole hours of peace today..i look forward to it...cant explain it, it just is slowly is good

  2. Your writing is beautiful...heartwrenching...real. Must be, because I have an overwhelming urge to give you a huge bear hug and squeeze the stuffins out of you! :)

  3. so beautiful. he's as lucky to have you as you are to have him.