I think its pretty common knowledge that I don’t sleep well. There’s something about my brain that has always gone, “Oh hey, the world is quiet and calm and dark — do anything but sleep!”
Before the Internet, I read. Nowadays, I sort of… wander. Most of the time I watch TV or read, but sometimes — like just now — I tidy up. I assemble the dishes from the living room and I throw away trash. I pick up pillows and nudge toys to the corner of the room with my foot.
Earlier, I paused by the door to Miles’ room and realized that I should make his bed.
Miles and I switched rooms this weekend.
When I moved in, my rationale was that Miles’ old room [now mine] is tucked back further into the apartment — it seemed safer. What I didn’t realize was that this side of the apartment gets very little daytime light, which made his room dreary to play in on even sunny days. Instead, I’d often find him dragging toys into my room and playing in there. (Also, I’d stolen his bed frame and he wanted it back. Whiner.)
Since I spend really little time in my room, especially during the day when he’s here, it seemed selfish not to switch out when he really liked mine better.
So on Friday I spent a couple hours moving all his things, moving all my things, and rearranging the living area a little. The end result was a much sunnier, prettier room for Miles and a much more spartan room for me. I’m actually pretty okay with it. I find my [new] room sort of comforting.
Thing is, though, that now I can see into his room all the time because its not tucked back into the apartment. I pass by it every time I go to any room. I see the unmade bed and the toys everywhere.
Tonight, as I quickly made his bed, I realized it’ll be another 12 days before he sleeps in his bed again.
Andy and I swap Miles during the day — an arrangement that allows Andy to continue to work without childcare and ensures that Miles sees us both nearly every day. Miles comes over in the morning, and he leaves around seven each night to go spend the rest of the day with his daddy. We alternate weekends to give each other a break.
It only bothers me when I realize that I don’t always miss Miles. I’m elated to see him in the morning and I’m sad to see him go in the evening. Come Monday morning after my weekends off, he’s like a little breath of adorable fresh air. But when he’s not here, a lot of the time I’m pretty okay. It helps that I know he’s safe and happy and enjoying his time with his daddy. He’s not wondering when he’ll see me next — he knows I’ll be here in the morning.
Tonight, as I made his bed, I realized that my son is has a life that I’m no longer a part of, and that schism is only going to get larger as he gets older, and Andy and I get more divorced and continue moving on with our adult lives.
All children do this — its part of growing up. There are great big chunks of my life that my parents have no place in, some incidental (my mom never noticed I was depressed) and some intentional (I really can’t talk to my father my relationships).
But Miles is doing it at four-years-old. He’s barely been here at all, and my own adult failures have halved the time that I get to spend just basking in his adorable-and-sometimes-irritating existence. (I’m not going to pretend its all sunshine and rainbows.)
So tonight, I tucked his teddy bear into his pillow and missed him deep in my chest, in a way that hadn’t really struck me in the months since the divorce. It’s poignant — its a relief that I really do have appropriate maternal feelings, and it hurts to realize that he’s not here.
It’s not like I’ve never mourned what this divorce means to our son. More than once, a close friend has said (some variations of), “This isn’t going to be the end of his world. I mean. how many of us were raised with our parents together?”
Miles is just going to be another generation of kids with wicked confusing family trees and complex inner-family politics. And at this stage, the very best thing Andy and I can continue to do is parent him with respect (both for him and for each other) and love.
But I mourn the things that could have been, too. That his bedroom looks so lonely when he’s not here, that his bear is left behind and his water cup gets dusty after a couple days. That even though he’ll be climbing on his bed tomorrow to look at his picture board and play games, for 12 more days, he’ll be leaving after dinner.