I awoke with a start from a very solid dead man's kind of sleep. It was the type of waking where you realize you've just heard something significant and it jars you to an upright position right then and there. I swear, I'd distinctly heard my son calling "Mom! Mom!" Thirteen years of being someone's mother and you recognize these things.
There was one problem with this. My son was not at my home. He was at his father's with his sister for their 5-day stint as part of our split-custody arrangement.
I instantly felt the familiar and strong pangs of a mother who misses her children. I really thought that this would get easier by now.
It has not.
After a quick search for the noise source, I determined it was not the cat, who seemed highly annoyed that I'd awoken him from his peaceful sleep curled up in my closet on some dirty laundry. "Well, excuse me," I thought, as I was even more confused by the noise for which I could clearly find no explanation.
I wanted to call to their Dad's house, but my son has lost his cell phone and his father believes we shouldn't contact the kids while at each other's homes unless it is urgent. I have respected this to try and keep the peace.
But, I was fully awake then--thinking about how much this transition has both lifted and weighed on me, changing who I am so significantly.
While I had never regretted or questioned our decision to divorce, the fact of the matter is that I will never get used to not seeing my children every single day. I don't know that I understand mothers who can walk away from their children without batting an eye. Truly. I strive to not be a judgmental person, but that is one action of which I find myself unable to put the shoe on the other foot.
I wonder if my ex-husband feels the difference? Anytime I have confided in him that this is hard and I miss them, he immediately comes back with the "of course, he does too" comments. He has gone from working full-time and seeing the children in the evenings and weekends, to our five-day-on/five-day-off. But, he quickly managed to squeeze in a second marriage and wife less than a year after our divorce was final. So, his attentions immediately found a place on which to fall without any significant time during which to linger.
While I haven't been dateless, most of my time I have spent alone--meditating, thinking, realizing, growing, sometimes crying, finding contentment, and hopefully learning what must be learned from our failure. Of course, this is all my skewed perspective, I realize. I am sure he misses them too.
I feel bad for saying it, but there are times I selfishly pray that he'll get consumed with his new wife so much that he agrees to change our custody to something different. Because it feels like a part of me has been ripped away. I don't know how to heal this. Clearly, I know my children need both of us, and I know the decision we made was best for them. But, it doesn't mean I have to like it or that it will get easier for me. And, maybe it isn't supposed to, actually.
While getting ready, I missed a call on my phone. Noticing the voice mail notification, I quickly logged on. The number was one I didn't recognize and the message was clearly an accidental dial. What played back was the sound of my ex-husband and his new wife. Her flatly telling the kids to get this and that together for school. Him explaining to her his plans for the day.
That's when I heard it.
I listened as my daughter's unmistakable giggle continued and I heard her talking to her step mother's cat. She loves animals so much. My daughter walks around cuddling the world around her whenever possible, and I feel so lucky to be one of her recipients. I continued to listen to her little voice playing with the cat, then heard my son come and talk to her and laugh with her.
Honestly, it was felt like medicine for my aching heart, hearing their little voices. That's the only way I can describe it.
Sometimes God brings us little miracles. In all of the mess that was my past few years, I have learned to cling to those small gems as they come along. I recognize that they are few and far between, but they are there to help us get through. I believe that with all of my heart.