Looking on the bright side
This morning I woke up, exhausted, like most days, and pried myself from bed so I could suck down coffee and stare, in silence, at unreturned emails -- putting off work. Once or twice a week the house is filled with chaos, as Edan shouts for breakfast, or wants to hide from giants, but not today. In these quiet moments, while Amanda sleeps, I'm alone.
I'll spend the next five hours trying to accomplish what resembles full-time employment, working as fast as possible, fuming at any interruptions, and trying, occasionally, to breathe. If I get tired, or fed up, or burnt out, the penalty is a life where I see my daughter 5 or 6 days a month -- because, unless you work around it, that's what the law allows.
So I keep pushing -- not least of all because, if I do, I don't have time to think, and I won't spend my morning shaking, shouting and screaming, railing against the endless compromising, negotiating, and bartering for better holiday visitation.
I suck in a deep breath, but my chest is tight -- trying to shrug the weight off before knocking on the door at daycare. It's a bad day, and Edan doesn't want to leave, so she whines from her car seat about going home, or to the park, or wherever -- barely speaking to me as she rejects the snack I packed for her. So we visit friends, but it's brief -- Edan's mom is done with work early, and I drop her off hating that our time together was spent trapped in the car.
And I sit there, staring at the dashboard, wondering if I'll always feel this tired.
* * *
That was yesterday. It'd been creeping up on me for awhile.
But less than a year ago, the life I lead now would've seemed like a ridiculous, impossible fantasy. With that in mind, I made a quick list of reasons I should be looking on the bright side:
1. I see my daughter almost every day. Think of the last time you were away from your kids for a vacation, or a business trip. Now take the feeling of those few days, and imagine it every week, over and over, until it's dull, throbbing ache. Allowing that to fade has been nothing short of amazing.
2. Edan's mom and I no longer resemble Britney and K-Fed. She was never a coked-out psycho, and I am a way better rapper than Federline, but we used to fight, just the same. These days, however, despite the fact that separated parenting sucks -- it sucks, it sucks, it sucks -- we're as respectful of one another as our personalities will allow, friendly when at all possible, even considerate of each other's feelings from time to time -- like real human beings!
3. I like my jobs. Recently I spent a few hours at my old job, and was blown away by how much I'm taking for granted these days -- seeing as I'm somehow lucky enough to spend my days occupied by my passions. I write. I parent. That's it.
4. Edan's mom is a good mom, her stepmom is a good stepmom, and her stepdad is a good stepdad. This is kind of related to number 2, but I bring it up because it's important to think about the big picture. The four of us all parent differently, which means there's always the temptation to lament the details. But, regardless of what we would or wouldn't do if the other wasn't in the picture, we all love Edan, and none of us are Scientologists.
5. Edan is happy. Every day she takes it all in stride, and you can't be in her presence without feeling joyful.
I suppose that, really, that's reason number 1.