"Mom, I want to know why you are crying" Junior called from his bedroom
"Yeah!!!" echoed Monkey Do (Bubba)
Oops. Great. Since the very early days, I have managed not to cry in front of my boys, which is no small thing, since I find a reason to at least once a day. It is not as often though that I get the noisy, messy, the world is ending, sitting on the kitchen floor variety going. This time, I thought the boys were asleep since they had been so deceptively quiet. Little monkeys...
Tonight's perpetrator was the text J sent right after he had dropped the baby off. I let him take the baby all on her own to see his mom while she was on a layover at the airport. His initial request was to switch his usual Tuesday with the kids to today so he could orchestrate this get together. "Take just Sis on Monday and then keep your usual Tuesday schedule" was my suggestion. His mom had not seen her since she was 2 weeks old (but has seen the boys very recently) and I thought additional kids might be more of a distraction. Nothing is worse than having taken the high road to have it slap you in the face and leave you crying on the kitchen floor where apparently, your children can hear you. Moments after J left, a text buzzed through on my phone.
Home in 10. Need anything?
It was sent to me, but it was not for me. The statement and the question were ones I had received from him hundreds of times when he was still playing the role of husband and dad, but this time, they were for my "replacement.". Five little words and they kicked my butt. 'Home' is now with his mistress and not his wife and kids. The worst part was that I had felt like I had an effective day emotionally after a weekend of grappling with fears and feelings far too big for me (as well as 2 out of 3 kids sick). I felt like I had finally had some kind of break-through in separating the J that I married and everyone misses, and the man who is making my life miserable. Junior had asked me yesterday who my best friends were. I rattled off a list that included him and his brother and sister.
"and dad?" he asked.
"Dad and I are good friends" I said after a slight hesitation. It really occurred to me then that I was not friends with this man anymore (I know, I know... some things take some time to sink in and he and I have been friends for half of our lives. It's an adjustment.)
"I love dad very much" I said next, with no hesitation at all and in absolute sincerity. I am not friends with him at the moment but he gave me my three great treasures regardless of what he has also taken away. I will always love him for that.
"You remember at Christmas, when he came to our house and after school the other day when he came up to the door with me and talked to you? That means he is your friend, mom...I think."
"You are absolutely right. Dad and I are great friends and we love you guys to death" was my immediate response. Sometimes, the truth is worse than the lie. I would lie all day long if it kept my boy from one extra burden.
My poor Junior should not be worrying about whether or not his dad is friends with his mom. I thought we had done a pretty good job of showing as united an effort as possible, but he is no dummy. Five stupid words that I received on accident knocked me off my feet. Five words that used to be directed at me on almost a daily basis. Five words that reminded me so completely of my loss and the way my life should be. But to let my kids hear me cry like that and confuse them further is almost unforgivable. I've tried so hard to protect them. I took a deep breath and slowly walked upstairs. They were both sitting up in bed with identical concerned looks.
"I'm sorry guys" I said and gave them each a hug.
"It's okay" Junior said (in a quivery voice that almost made me lose it again) "are you sad because you miss dad?'
"Yeah, I do miss dad. Sometimes moms get sad when dads make bad choices, and sometimes you just have to cry to feel better." I said. "It's okay to cry sometimes."
"We know moms get sad" Bubba piped up (ouch...).
We talked a little longer and told a few stories and then they fell asleep for real. I went back to my spot on the kitchen floor by the pantry (strangely a comforting place for crying) and just sat there drained wondering for the millionth time whether I said/did the right thing. The theatrical tears were over but they only slowed to a steady drizzle. I knew I couldn't sleep, so I decided to run. Apparently it IS possible to run for two miles straight while in tears. Who knew? At around one mile, my sadness began to convert to anger. I'm talking serious rage. Rage toward him and the waste he has made of so many of my years and putting us in this situation so he can chase being "happy." Rage at the fact that he can do this to me and I don't get the luxury of cutting him from my life. I still have to see him several times a week and act cheerful for the kids. It never fails to be a downer for me. Rage toward "her" and her selfish home-wrecking sense of entitlement (who does this to a family????). Rage toward me for putting up with crap I shouldn't have and ignoring so many signs. More rage toward me for feeling like daily I have to air out all my imperfections to myself to try to figure out what I could have done differently even when I know that's pointless. Rage at life in general because I am really not where I want to be and can't do anything about it other than be sad and mad. Rage because I had some insightful moments today and the last thing I expected was another kitchen floor episode.
Running and crying will both drain you, but I'm still grateful for my nightly friend Ambien (don't even talk to me about possible sleeping pill addictions. We'll cross that bridge later). I so want to be past this. I keep hearing that things will get better and there will come a time when the small things will not derail me. When I will not care where he lays his head at night and where he refers to as 'home.' I want to fast forward to a life when I don't have to carry tissues everywhere I go because I never know when the waterworks will turn on. I want a life where I am no longer 'programmed' to care about J and worry about how he is doing (I'm insane...I know! I possess a freakish amount of loyalty and I managed to land someone who doesn't want/need it). I want to take genuine joy in my days again and not feel like I am constantly waiting for another blow. This isn't a life. It's just survival, and I really, really miss looking forward to my future. I really miss taking joy in my children without worrying about how they are doing and what they are going to miss out on. I miss feeling genuinely relaxed. It has been so long since I haven't felt wound up.
On nights like this, I usually try really hard to determine what I CAN do, even if it is just an attitude adjustment, but I've got nothing tonight. Breathing is all that is on the agenda and even that feels hard. I do however, have a plan for tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes.