Last week, I wrote about the big change in our lives; LK’s girlfriend, and their plans to take Baby Jack to another state to visit his family. On Friday, as I drove Jack to the meeting point, I listened to sad music, trying to elicit some sort of cathartic crying so that I would be able to handle the meeting without crying in front of anyone. And as I took the exit and prepared to turn left towards the assigned parking lot, I instead turned right as the tears finally came. I sobbed and drove around Buckhead, trying to keep my old Jeep in my lane and not hit any of the expensive foreign cars that surrounded me, and actually considered driving home and keeping my baby to myself.
But, I finally did go to the drop off point, and when LK got out of his truck, which she was driving, he was on a conference call with work. As his wife, I was never able to get him to leave a conference call and listen to me. As the mother of the child that he wanted to show off to his family, he took the earphones out quickly and listened intently. I enjoyed this change quite a bit. While there, I taught them how to monitor Jack’s heart and what to listen for and reminded them to keep him hydrated and away from certain foods. As they drove away, I was thankful that I had scheduled a full weekend of distractions, and prayed that LK would be able to leave his work behind enough to keep Jack safe.
During their time together Jack had three diaper blow outs, one in the car and two at 2 o’clock in the morning (YES!). He also woke screaming during the night and kept LK up for a couple of hours (YES!). I say “YES!” to these things, because they didn’t cause Jack any real distress and LK got to see a snippet of the months of sleepless nights and poop festivals that I have had to handle on my own. Plus, it’s hilarious.
Jack also turned blue this weekend. I had warned LK that too much sodium or too little fluids could cause this, and that unless it was paired with other symptoms that indicated heart failure, he just needed some quiet time and water to improve hydration and blood flow. I knew that LK thought I was exaggerating when I warned him about this, so I was glad that it happened. It’s far more terrifying to be in the presence of a cyanotic child than you might imagine, and LK again got a taste of what my normal has been.
So, back to the “Me time” portion of the weekend! First on my agenda was lunch with two friends that I used to work with, D and C. We had a delicious lunch and laughed so much my stomach hurt and I realized that the dinner plans I had would find me alone and sad, so I invited Deb to join me and she agreed! From there, I headed to the Ritz Carlton which is beautiful, and quite expensive. Now, if you’re concerned that I am being reckless with my money as a single mother, recognize that if I paid myself a mere $4 per week that I gestated and cared for Jack alone, I saved enough to pay for this weekend. And if you know me, you know that I had this cash in savings for just this type of occasion. At the Ritz, I enjoyed several spa treatements, delicious food and drinks, and after dinner, D and I even got hit on by a couple of way too young, way too drunk men.
On Saturday afternoon, I headed home and found myself in a dark, quiet house. I immediately started scrambling, doing the math in my head of what needed to be done, prioritizing those things and estimating how many of them I could complete before Jack was returned to me. Then I remembered that it was only Saturday and I wouldn’t be getting Jack back til Sunday evening. So I took a nap on the couch. During a thunder storm. And it was glorious. When I woke up, I went to dinner with a friend then came home and went to bed early. Sunday found me at Church and then a day of chores with Daddy and Donna.
That Sunday afternoon, I began to feel that familiar cluster of unidentifiable, but uncomfortable emotions in the pit of my stomach. I know that not having Jack around is hard, but will get easier. I know that I have been the sole caregiver for two years, and I deserve a break. And I know that I am still a good mother if I take time for myself. But the sadness and anger and guilt still came, so I called my sister. She is, to me, like an Oracle in Ancient Greece. There is no problem that I have that she can’t distill into a few succinct words that remove all the pretense and mystery. When I described my feelings, she said “well, you miss your baby, so you hate the people who have him.” Of course. I miss Jack and I’m jealous of them for having them, and angry that after all the hard work was done keeping him alive, LK swooped in to have fun with him “every other weekend.” That girl is a genius.
Jack was returned to me so exhausted that he just wanted to go to bed. He didn’t play with me, didn’t talk much and didn’t reach for me. It broke my heart and I was certain that he had forgotten about me during his time away. Our bond was broken and would never be remade. So I went to bed devastated and hoped that I hadn’t made a mistake. Of course, on Monday morning, Jack was rested and loved me like his own personal rock star again. But I have been in a funk for days.
I know that each time LK has Jack, it’ll get easier for me to be alone, and I may even begin to enjoy my time alone. But for now, it is heart breaking and lonely and sad. But just for me. I have raised a son so happy and secure that he is relatively happy in all situations. And I guess I should be proud of that.
Maybe I’ll relax more next time,