Tear-o-meter

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wish i could credit this but just grabbed it off Twitter… Source unknown

In the year after my ex (let’s just call him X while we’re here, that works) left, I cried a lot. I mean, like really A LOT of tears. Tears of anger, sadness, grief and frustration, in varying proportions. Every day, for a while. Then every few days… every week… now probably about once a month, which is pretty healthy I reckon.

So I was thinking about how the frequency of crying is quite a good measure of how far I’ve come, and maybe I’ve been buried in too many statistics and metrics in my work lately… but I thought wouldn’t it be fascinating if we could record the volume of tears we cry and use that to measure the states of our lives – geek-tastic, I know. But hey, there should be an app for that!

The app would produce graphs and mine would look something like this (just a bit less amateur) with the 2015 peak dwarfing my teenage tears and even my baby boo-hoos:

crying

Now, ahem… as can be seen from the data collected, according to the tear-o-meter, things are getting lots better. There are days when I feel like I can accept the way things are now and on one of those days recently I suggested to X that we all go for a bite to eat after M’s annual dance show.

For a little bit of context: two years ago, this show was a heart-wrenching experience that I cried most of the way through as it preceded X taking the girls for the weekend for the first time. Back then the thought of having to sit through dinner with X would probably have literally made me throw up so this was progress. We hadn’t sat down to a meal together since we were actually, well, together so it was kind of a big first.

So anyway, there I was before the show, ready to meet X and my little one L (it was X’s weekend to have the kids). Feeling pretty ok about things, emotionally stable. Then he turns up with a big bunch of flowers. Reader, they were not for me.

“Who are the flowers for?” I asked, my smile strained and fake. Because I knew they were something to with his girlfriend (let’s call her Y, because WHY would you start having an affair with someone who has two young children, it’s just not cool sister). So it turns out the flowers were from Y, for M after her performance. She had just left after the three of them had seen the first show.

Well that’s lovely of her, you might think. Or, ‘Can’t you just be happy about it? It’s a NICE thing’ as X put it, when I couldn’t help pulling a face of extreme ‘WTF?!’ in place of actually saying ‘WTF?!’ which I couldn’t, as little L was standing right between us.

The thing is, of course it is nice that my daughter has someone else in her life who supports and celebrates her. However my heart has not quite caught up with the cold logic needed for me to reach that conclusion. So when he told me she’d just been there watching my daughter’s show – which meant that I could so easily have bumped into her, totally unprepared for such a difficult situation, it was like a punch in the gut and my heart went double time with mild panic.

So, no unfortunately I could not ‘just be happy’ that the woman who is a big part of the reason I now only get to see my daughters for half the week was there. But what really pissed me off was the fact that he didn’t have the guts to tell me she was coming. Either that or he didn’t even think about how brutally painful that possible surprise encounter would have been for me and how confusing and upsetting it could have been for L. Probably a mix of both. I was fuming.

Luckily we went in to watch the show soon afterwards. Sitting in the darkness of the auditorium I let my tears come and I let them go. I cursed that I was still crying at this show two years down the line when I thought I’d come so far.

But I pulled myself together and managed to box away my anger for a few hours, so we went for the meal and actually it was fine – we’ve become pretty skilled at acting ‘normal’ in front of the kids. When I got home I put my feelings in writing to him, the line of the tear graph saw another little rise… and now it’s levelling out again.

 

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Little Magnets

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Go on give me a hug

“When they’re little, it’s like having a limb removed.” Ouch…

A sympathetic comment from a fellow single mum in response to me telling her earlier this evening that I didn’t have to rush home to my kids because they’re not at home tonight, they’re with their dad and his girlfriend, and although that’s not new in itself, it’s new because it’s a school night and so far they’ve been sleeping at home all through the week. I don’t like it (I hate it), but there is no escaping the fact that I’m just going to have to get used to it. Suckage.

I remember when the girls were little, maybe 2 and 4, maybe younger. We’d left them at their grandma’s for a few days and were on the way to pick them up. I’d had a brilliant time away from them but missed them of course, and the closer we got, the more I felt I was being pulled to them, like they were two tiny but super strong magnets and I was a big old horseshoe magnet that had been magnetised when they were born.

Just like a magnetic attraction, whilst far away there was a pull but it wasn’t that strong: I could turn from it, wrap myself up in sun and music and mediterranean seafood (not literally wrap myself in seafood, that would be weird); but now in the car, getting closer to them, it was powerful and I knew that when we got there I would be helpless, the kids and I would ping towards each other like magnets and hold on very tightly in big bear hugs (with little bears). I tried to put this feeling into words but he didn’t quite get it…

Not to be discriminatory against men or anything (would I?!) but it’s not the same for them. Without having grown the tiny bones and organs and toe nails and everything else for 9 months inside themselves, or made the milk that turned the tiny bodies into chubby babes, Dads just can’t have the same physical attachment. Yes Dads hold them and love them but it’s not the same. Doesn’t mean the love is any less strong or valuable, but it’s not the same. Maybe that’s the reason that so many men can walk away.

So is the limb removal analogy is a LITTLE dramatic?! Yeah, ok maybe… But for me it’s along the right lines. Maybe more like a digit removal? Or a fingernail? Urgh sorry… But my little ones are part of me, it doesn’t feel right that they’re not here with me at those times when they would usually be. Yes, the whole of parenthood is one long exercise of letting go, realising that magnetic force is getting weaker, allowing the beings that were literally once part of you become completely independent of you. Kahlil Gibran wisely said you are like the bow and the children are the arrows; you can point them in a certain direction but who knows where they will land? But that doesn’t really make it any easier. For me this serious letting go is coming so much sooner than I expected, and it’s really bloody hard.