Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Project 365: Day 31 - Losing Control.....

Few things hurt more than the day you discover you no longer have control of every day of your children's lives. For most parents, this day comes when their kids reach some tweenage milestone and they're hanging out with their friends more than they're hanging out with you. Or when they get their driver's license and you're lucky to see them for a few minutes before they're off to school each morning. Or they fall in love for the first time and their whole world only revolves around the new found love of their lives, and no longer you.

But for a single parent, that day comes much sooner. We are faced with that realization the first time custody is handed off to the "other" parent. You've had them for your "share" of the time and now it's their turn. The first day is usually not the worst day. At that point, the children don't fully understand what's going on. To them, dad is taking them home and you'll be along shortly. It's not until probably the third or fourth hand off that they begin to realize, "Hey, wait a minute! The last time we did this I didn't see you for three whole days. What the hell!" And then it happens. The unbearable cry of a child being put in the back seat of daddy's car when they know mama's not sitting shot-gun.

You do your best to put on a strong face. You tell them that you'll see them soon and that they're going to have fun at daddy's. But nothing helps. They know the deal. They're starting to understand the new dynamics of their family and they don't like it one bit. You stand there, in your driveway, and you watch them pull away slowly. It might not really be slowly, but to you the car creeps backwards into the street as slow as the sunrise. Ten seconds turns into an eternity as you still hear them crying in the back seat. And then suddenly, eternity is gone in a flash. The car is no longer in your sight. And yet you still stand there frozen.... thinking, no wishing maybe they forgot something and they'll have to turn around and come back. After about fifteen minutes you realize they're not coming back and you won't see them again until Tuesday. As you walk back through the door of your now empty and quiet home, the strong face you previously had plastered to your head suddenly looses all feeling and sinks to the ground. And you break down.

That is how the realization of no longer having control of my children happened for me the first time. I say first time because a second, more painful event took place that burned this realization into my mind, my heart and my soul.

I had been in the new house for about three months when I got the call. Their dad was on the other line and the sound of the first syllable out of his mouth sent me into a panic mode that I can now only describe as blinding numbness. Big E had gone missing. His dad couldn't find him any where. Apparently the entire neighborhood was out looking for him. You see, that is one thing I truly miss about where I used to live. You could depend on every single neighbor in our community. And that day they became part of our family.

The boys had been out side with their dad and several neighbors and their kids. They were all playing in the backyard, going in and out of the house, riding their big wheels and bicycles, playing with bubbles and sidewalk chalk. Parents were gathered together in the usual spot on the side yard, talking about getting their kids into the right school or that "bad" corner down the street. You see, I know this was happening because it was a scene that we played for years in that neighborhood. But this scene ended much different than all those in years previous.

Their dad called for Big E and he didn't answer. Well, maybe he had gone inside. So dad went in the house, called for him time and time again. No answer. Fifteen minutes had gone by and the other neighbors started calling out for Big E, too. Twenty minutes gone now, still no answer. The dad running in and out of the house frantically calling out to his son and painfully hearing no reply. A call to 911 was placed. Police converged quickly. More neighbors were gathering. Dad tried to remain calm, but was slowly losing it, fearing that Big E had walked to the front of the house and someone grabbed him from the front yard. That fear worsened the minute he heard the officer call into his walkie talkie thingie on his shoulder and said "we need a bus and dogs at 428 ........". He lost it. Remnants of that fear still pierced his voice when he called me. But by then, his voice spoke in fear because of the experience he just endured. Because by the time the call was made to me, Big E had been located by a neighbor. He was hiding under the chaise lounge in the sun room. He heard his daddy calling him, but he was hiding, and at four, you're not supposed to give your hiding place away.

So now, Dad's fear transferred to me, but by the time it made it's way through the phone lines, it was no longer fear. It became anger. Deep, blood red anger. I wasn't angry at him because Big E hid from him. I was angry at him because he was there when it was happening and I was here, 45 minutes away. And he put me here, because he didn't want to be married anymore.

So that was the second time I realized that I no longer had control over each day of my children's lives. This second time was much harder to swallow but took less time to sink in. This was our life now. He would always be there and I would always be here. And our children would always be in between. While this dramatic and frightful event made it perfectly clear that custody of control was now part of the deal, acceptance of this is taking a little bit longer. But I'm working on it. Separation will be a continuous work in progress, but at least today I'm in better shape than I was yesterday and tomorrow, well..... I'll let you know tomorrow.

One thing I do know....... Tweenage milestones, Driver's licenses and falling in love will be a cake walk for me.

31 of 365: Tonight I have control and we're being silly in big pants.....

Good Night All!