Call and Response

I wanted to write something new
something daring so you would think
I went out with a bang,
that I ended with a song.

But this is not the end
and there is no bang, this is no song,
forcing meaning on to the page
stops the flow of words.

I began this trip back from silence
with a splash on the page;
small at first, it spread
until it touched each day.

And now though I write for me
I see I also write for you
I write my feelings out
I rise to the occasion
I join the conversation.

 

 

 

Unfettered: The story of an evolving relationship

It has been many, many years since my son stayed overnight at his father’s. Many years since I’ve trusted my ex enough to let him have our son more than the allotted five hours. Many years since I’ve referred to my child as “ours” and meant someone other than my current husband. In fact, he hasn’t stayed overnight there since I won full custody, reduced access to five hours every two weeks and changed my son’s last name to mine. That was all five years ago. Half my son’s life ago.

It hasn’t even been very long that my son has been seeing his father, this time around. After mostly two years of his father being unreliable and absent, my son decided he had no interest in seeing him either. It was only Father’s Day 2015 that my son asked to see him again following eight months of unexplained refusal.

While I don’t know what changed my son’s mind, I can say that as far as my ex goes, things have vastly improved ever since February when he and his partner had a baby. I wouldn’t say I fully trust him – people don’t change – but I don’t feel terror at the thought of our son staying with him anymore, and that’s saying something. For now, he’s in a better place in his life and his mind and  I can’t really justify refusing to let our son stay with him. In fact, it was me who started involving him more in our son’s life again. I even organized this weekend for both of them.

I hope he doesn’t prove me wrong. I hope he doesn’t fall apart while our son is still a child, still vulnerable.

As awful as things were at their worst – lies, drinking, stealing, erratic behaviour – when he’s stable, my ex is charming, fun and able to run a business and a house. He can be a warm, relaxed person. They bond over a shared love of soccer and their shared experience on this earth, however limited it has been.

I’m happy about that. I hope that it will continue. It’s good for our son to feel unconflicted between both parents, to feel he can go back and forth between both households without incident. To spend time with both of us – and his new sister.

So, at the very early hour of 8:00 am Saturday, I packed him off for a day and a half.

My son is my heart and soul, just as much a part of me as my own limbs. Yet, he is also the independent person I have taught him to be. He is able to stand on his own, speak up for himself, and go off and do things and make his own way – the way of an only child. At 8 years old, he chose to go to sleepaway camp for 26 nights straight and he did just fine (survivable homesickness aside). He flies alone to visit his grandparents in Toronto. He walks into all sorts of situations on his own, introduces himself and gets involved. So though we’re very close and I miss him, I know he’s ok away from home.

Still, when it comes to his father, I worry. And it’s more than the man himself. There’s so much all parties invest in a parental relationship, so many hopes and expectations. Especially one as complex and fraught as this one.

It doesn’t help that I’m naturally anxious and a worrier.

I must have kept myself sanely busy, though, because here I am now, about to go pick him up.

I’m surprised to find myself looking forward to hearing all about the house, his new sister, his time with the other part of his family. I don’t feel the expected pang of regret or sadness or even fear. I just want him to be happy, to have had the weekend he was looking forward to. And I’m sure he did.

It is so much easier to abandon the angst, fear and outrage, to leave the bad of the past in the past and, while still watching out for my son, finally move forward, unfettered.

Thoughts from the trenches

The left cuff of my trench coat is fraying. Thin, beige tendrils dangle at my wrist, at odds with the rest of my clothes, with my attempt at an otherwise polished appearance.

In one of the pockets there are two abandoned tickets – leftovers from an event, now forgotten, that I took my son to recently. I think they were food tickets. I have already worn them smooth by rubbing them absentmindedly, by throwing keys and sunglasses and gloves in on top of them.

The coat is a classic trench: beige, belted, double breasted with wide lapels. It has been a reliable staple in my wardrobe since 2004. At first glance, it looks neat and proper and it mostly does a good job of repelling the rain.

If you take a second look, though, the fraying cuff and other more subtle signs of wear begin to stand out. They symbolize all that is going on in my life and my days. I’m struggling to keep it all together, and I seem to be, unless you really pay attention.

There are things I need to take care of, errands to run, events and activities to get my son to, but then there is work, where I have mountains and mountains of things to do, enough for more than me but with only me to do them. I just manage to pull most of it off, to get done what needs to be done so that it appears I’m holding it all together, but I’m not doing my best and there are always a few things I gloss over.

I pull myself together – just – each morning so that when I stumble out the door (late) I mostly look professional. I get to work earlier than most and get a lot done while I’m there, so it’s all passable, if panicked.  In the evenings, especially my son’s soccer evenings, I throw myself back through the door again and into whipping up dinner. We generally manage to make it to soccer on time and then I spend the time I should be writing or running covering my tracks, cleaning up, getting groceries, doing the dishes, making lunches. Sometimes I get a run in, somewhere, sometimes I pause to write.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s good enough – all of it, the coat and my just barely holding on. It all appears fine. Everything seems ok. I may be unravelling just a bit, and my coat definitely is, but I still give the appearance of being organized, of getting it all done, of being polished.

It’ll do for now.

Just maybe don’t look too closely.

I wrote all day

I wrote all day,
lofty thoughts and speeches,
messages and ways to change the world.
I wrote all day
and now I have very little left to say,
except I wish I could show you
all that I wrote today.

 

It may seem that I am, at day 17, starting to run out of things to post. In fact, my mind is swarming with ideas, I just don’t have the time to think them through and write them down. But I am holding on tight to my own personal challenge to post every day this month. And, as the poem says, after a day of writing, it can be difficult to come home and write some more, especially after dinner and book time and discussions about the day’s events and making lunches – all the things that are bigger than me, bigger than my writing challenge.

Still, here I am, sharing my thoughts with you. Because that is still important, too.

And I do wish I could show you some of what I wrote today. I’m proud of my work, I love what I do, even more-so now that everything is touched with our special, Canadian #sunnyways.

Some days it’s all a bit too much

The cold settled into my bones and in the grim grey light, I pondered the Fates – how they decide which innocents to steal, whose time is up. I suppose they’ve been at it long enough to know.

Some days there is too much to say. Too much, and yet the words won’t come.

When I feel so deeply, my thoughts tie themselves in knots, my words strangle themselves in my throat, and I fall silent. I feel dissatisfied no matter how much I try to write it out. Even music – all music – seems discordant. I move from chair to chair, never quite feeling comfortable. I can’t be with people. I can’t focus on reading.

When nothing else works, I sit alone in silence. I let my mind wander where it will, I don’t try to escape or entertain or distract.

Today, I thought about the Fates.

At the end of this restless day, I went out to pick up my son from his friend’s place. As I drove down a busy, well-lit city street cocooned in my silence, I happened to look up between the streetlights and see the thin, red, low-slung crescent of a new moon. It was large and otherworldly. Beautiful.

For a moment I imagined I was on a different planet.

Then, I turned on the radio and belted out songs until I had thoroughly shattered my carefully constructed silence.

The future is unwritten, tenuous, and we are all pulled along into it, day after day. All we can do is find whatever we need in the moment to keep us going.