My son, Henry, does not live with me full time. For the most part he lives with his Dad and has since he was four. It was my decision, and it broke my heart.
I love my son dearly. Originally I only wanted this arrangement for six months. I was in some economic and mental distress. I thought I just needed those few months to “get my shit together”. I did it for his sake. Turns out I went about it in entirely the wrong way. I got hurt. I got stranded. Financially, I never fully recovered.
By the time I got back to where I was supposed to be, my son was settled. He was going to a good school. He had a nice house to live in. His Dad could give him all the things I couldn’t. So, I didn’t try to change the arrangement. My son deserved stability and all the advantages his Dad could provide. But he still needed his Mom, and I still needed him.
I am now what some people would call a “weekend Mom” because that is when I see him. All week long I wait for Friday, for the days when I have all of my family together in one place. Monday drags into Tuesday drags into Wednesday drags into Thursday, but Fridays? Fridays glow on the horizon of every new week, always a little too far away or gone a little too quickly. Weekends are the only times when I feel close to whole.
Sunday nights are hard and cold. Everything seems so quiet, and the empty spot at the table looms large.
Henry knows I’m doing this blog thing. If he wanted to, he could go online and pull up my blog anytime because he knows my blogger name and where it resides. I suspect he either has done so or will soon. He seems curious about what I’m writing here. He sits next to me and looks with his peripheral vision or leans over when he thinks I’m not looking. He’s curious, but he doesn’t want to invade my privacy. This is why I decided to use his real name. I want this to jump out at him. I want him to know something:
Son, I love you. I have tried to establish open, honest communication with you. I have tried to forge a relationship of mutual respect, and I think we have that. Scratch that; I know we do. You may think that I’m writing things here that I don’t want you to know, but that isn’t true. The fact that I am here writing about all this stuff — well, there are a couple of reasons for that.
First of all, I’m having a hard time with my illnesses. Writing all of these things down is helpful to me. It helps me organize my thoughts and exam them from a little distance, and distance is good at times like these. Distance helps me feel less tangled up. It helps to share my thoughts and feelings with people who may be going through similar things, and, if I manage to help someone else along the way, then I feel like maybe it was all worth it. We’re all in this together, see?
The second reason I write all this stuff down is for you and for M. There are things that, while you are both children, I won’t tell you about.
Remember when you were little? You were three years old, and you wished you were big enough to reach the stove. I was sick, and you wanted to make me chicken noodle soup. I told you, “Don’t worry. It’s my job to take care of you. When I’m old and grey, then you can take care of me. For now you have only one job.”
“What’s my job, Momma?”
“Have a happy childhood.”
I know you are almost a man, Henry, and I am so, SO proud of you. I could not have wished for a better son. But you still have a couple of years to be a kid. Enjoy it. It’s still not time for you to take care of me. In a few years or so, though, I would love to sit down across the table from you. We can share a cup of coffee or even a bottle of wine, and you can ask as many questions of me as you like, and I promise, promise, promise that I will tell you my truths as well as I am able. I’ll keep this blog alive, and we can look at it together. We can laugh. We can cry. We can see each other not just as mother and son, but as equals.
I will like that. It is the glowingest Friday of all.