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Departures

on June 30, 2013

Tuesday: my birthday.  A lovely, lovely day.  But also the day before Big Girl and Small Girl went away with their dad for five nights.  Five whole nights.  The first time in four years that I have been without one of my children for that long, if you count womb-time.  Which I do, as it largely consisted of feeling sick and being kicked from the inside.  So it should count for something.

So I spent the day feeling an urgent desire to make the most of every single minute with them, to not waste a single moment that I would later regret.  This lent the day a sense of intensity but also pre-nostalgia, that feeling that I was going to miss them, which permeated my time with them.

Bedtime came, and the knowledge that this could be Small Girl’s last breastfeed, as she might forget how to do it in the time away. (Except, of course, it wasn’t, because she was awake on and off all night, and I ended up trying to sleep in her bed with her while she screamed and kicked at me, and then tried to sleep in my bed with her while she screamed and kicked at me.  Still, I thought, I’m going to miss her when she’s gone…).  Almost the minute they were in bed, I wanted to cry because I missed them so much.

Wednesday: Breakfast, and then getting them dressed, trying to be kind to them (of course, I’m *always* kind.  Of course I am. Extra-kind, then).  Ex-Husband arrived 15 minutes before he said he would.  I wanted to punch him in the head.  As if it isn’t bad enough that he is taking my children away from me for FIVE WHOLE NIGHTS, he steals my last fifteen minutes with them, that time I planned for cuddles and one last story.  Oh, and teeth-cleaning.  Small Girl is happy to see Daddy. Big Girl says she wants to stay with me.  It is so hard.  I know when she comes back from Ex-Husband’s house she sometimes says she wants to stay with him, so I don’t really treat this as some kind of victory in a separated-parents-war.  I explain to her that I will miss her, and that she will have fun with Daddy, and that she will be ok.  She wants me to put her in the car.  I do so, trying not to look inside the car that I once drove around in with Ex-Husband, try not to see any signs of another woman’s presence in it.  I kiss Big Girl.  She clings to me and cries.  I peel her off me, tell her I will wave to her from the door, kiss her one last time.

And then they are gone, and I am alone.  I don’t know what to do.  I feel like I have everything and nothing to do, at the same time, like an engine with a broken drive-belt, turning uselessly.  My house is untidy and I have so much to do, but without two small children chasing me, no motivation and no sense of urgency.  I watch Dr Who (I want a t-shirt which says ‘I saw the Weeping Angels and survived!’) and have a bath.  Baths are lovely.  They should put them on prescription.  It is almost impossible to lie in a bath and not come out feeling more relaxed than you went in.

And then I start to prepare for *my* departure.

I knew, at some point, Ex-Husband would take both children to visit his mum, who lives an extraordinarily long way away, and that this would, of necessity, be for quite a long time.  So I decided that, when this happened, I would have a lovely holiday for myself.  I wanted to go to Prague.  And then it flooded.  And then I remembered that I don’t fly because it’s not really good for the environment.  And I couldn’t find anyone with time and money to go on holiday with me.  So I decided to go to Stratford upon Avon instead.  It’s lovely, it has bookshops and coffee shops, which is really all I need from a holiday, it’s easy to get to.  And I’ve never been there with Ex-Husband.

Here’s what I’ve discovered.  When you’re used to going anywhere with two small children, packing for just yourself is remarkable.  I *could* take less luggage for a two-night holiday for just me than for a quick trip to Ikea with Big Girl and Small Girl.  Obviously, I didn’t.  I had to pack more books than it is possible to read in two days, and a spare set of clothes and the world’s biggest packed lunch and my laptop for watching Dr Who on the train (is there anything nicer than watching TV, uninterrupted, while being whisked through British countryside? I don’t think so).  But even so, I looked at my packing and wondered what I’d forgotten.

And then I was ready to leave…

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2 responses to “Departures

  1. seaswift says:

    I love the honesty of your writing – you’re inspirational.

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