My life is starting to feel a little like the movie Groundhog Day, except without the love interest and a lot more antidepressants.
7:30 a.m. - Wake up with 2 boys crowding my side of the bed. Bubba generally has twisted so that his toes are in my back and Junior generally wants something complicated done or answered (such as "what is light made of?") I allow myself the snooze button twice before Sis' increasing shrieks for attention from her room guilt me enough to go get her. If it is a weekend that I have the kids, I pour them cereal (far earlier than they would ever get up on a school day) turn on a movie and beg them to not to come fighting up the stairs and wake up the baby before I have gotten a few extra minutes. If it is a weekend that they are with J, I wake up at the crack of dawn and either lie there wondering how the kids are doing and why I can't sleep, or I doze and have terribly realistic dreams that act out my worst worries and fears.
A.M. - Wrangle the various kids (both mine and not mine) that I am in charge of all day while Junior goes to school (after the landmine of picking the 'right' shirt. Many that I pull out of the drawer are 'too handsome.') Keep Bubba from picking on Sis, who makes an easy target and reacts really loudly to being bugged.
Afternoon - Junior comes home from school and tells me that it was "kind of ok." Spends the afternoon bossing me around until he gets in trouble enough times that he remembers to be respectful. Work on homework before playing with friends and/or going to J's. Fend off the needy one year old who doesn't need me for anything until the minute I am otherwise occupied. Bubba wants to wrestle and knocks the stuffing out of me more often than not.
Late Afternoon - Extra kids go home. If it is a night that I have the kids, I attempt dinner. Find myself cussing J out a little in my head as I break up fights and peel kids off of me long enough to actually cook something. Try hard not to think about a long evening with just me and the kids before the hour long business of 'getting them into bed.' Try really hard not to picture him returning to his home to spend a quiet evening much like the ones he and I used to pre-kids. Try not to remember the days when he used to walk through our door. If it is a night that he has the kids, I make an effort to cook dinner, but often don't see the point just for myself. Try to take others advice to 'do something for me' but mostly just miss the kids (ironic, no?) and watch the clock for them to come home. Concentrate hard on not picturing them in a different 'family' setting, while I hang out on my own. Concentrate on not hating J for all the accumulated minutes I have to be away from my kids because he wanted to change the stakes mid-game. Steel myself to have the kids come home and refer to the time they spent and worst of all, The DLS. Sometimes I make it to the gym. Most of the time is spent running whatever errands I can, doing laundry and catching up on work. It's feast or famine parenting and it is still not something I am used to.
Evening - Getting kids ready for bed involves a heads up, a second heads up, threats to 'get jammies on now.' Second threats. Chasing Sis to change her bum and get her pajamas on (which is like dressing a cat these days). The kids smell weakness and use it to their advantage. Sis gets kissed, sippy cupped and dumped in bed and both boys decide that they are starving and can't possibly go to bed without cereal, etc. They are master stallers and I am beat by then and they know it. Teeth get brushed, prayers are said and then comes the nightly negotiations of where they will sleep. I generally push for their own beds knowing full well that they will both be getting up at some point in the night and crawling into mine. They prefer going to sleep in my bed and I have been giving in and breaking our old rule just because I don't have the energy to force them into their own beds and know that they always wake up scared no matter how many lights I leave on for them. Junior asks if we can "talk" after prayers. Sometimes he wants to talk about missing his dad and the why's and wherefore's surrounding that subject. Sometimes he wants to talk about things that happened 'when dad still lived here.' Sometimes he wants to talk about school, sometimes he wants to hear stories about something "funny or gross" that happened when I was little or when J was little. Sometimes he wants to know how stars are made :-) Bubba snuggles and I really treasure this time even when I know there are miles to go before I sleep as well. Good night kisses to and from each boy and an application of 'good dream lotion' on their foreheads (clinique's 'Happy.' Junior can read now and I showed him the bottle. It makes you happy, right?) The ritual is the same every night and the boys won't let me skip or hurry any of the steps. I let them control it but I am worn out by the time the lights go out.
Post-bed - I should be excited to be done with the day and able to turn my brain off, but I often can't. It's palpably lonely. It's at this point of the evening that I realize just how little actual adult interaction I have had during the day. I worry about my kids. I worry about how the turn our life has taken will affect them. I worry about whether or not my reactions to these changes are damaging them. I regret not being able to share my worries with the other parent. I worry about the upcoming holidays and having to do all the essentials alone again. I regret that I was married to a man who could split our family like this and feel justified on any level. Most of all, I worry that it will never stop feeling this way. I am tired of facing this trial. The thing about this schedule is that it is not much different from the one I had before the big split. It is just missing that crucial element of sharing it and working toward a future with someone. It's a big deal. I am devoted to being a stay at home mom for my kids as long as I can, but I can't deny missing the adult interaction with someone who had the same cares and interests that used to break up my days. It lent permanence and validation to what I was doing at home knowing that working to raise good kids would mean that we had earned the right to enjoy our grandkids and each other on our own again in the later years. Long, full days and an empty house at night with yet more work to do is getting to be wearing. I get the most joy out of my children, but it is always tempered by the fact that the one who I shared them with is gone and is increasingly on a different page about what is most important for them.
Bedtime for me - Make rounds of the kids. Straighten them out, pull up covers, pat backs and say silent, grateful prayers for all three of them. Move at least one sleeping boy from my bed to the cot set up in my room. Turn down the other side of the blanket for him to inevitably crawl back in in the night. Try really hard not to let myself think about being lonely and missing my old life. Try hard not to think about my husband elsewhere tucked up with someone else. Plead with God for awhile to heal some of my hurts. Read a book until the Ambien kicks in. Cross my fingers that I won't have any dreams.
How do you even begin to move on when so much of your life remains exactly the same?