Today my kids (4 and 2 yrs old) left to stay with my husband's parents for a week. My mother-in-law suggested it, seeing how much we are suffering for want of slack. I think she sees us as tired and in need of a break. I see us as post traumatic stress survivors trying to find space to come to terms with how much we miss and regret the life we expected and deliberately, though naively, relinquished to parent two children.
I still choose this choice, and I believe A. does as well. Now that we are starting to understand what the progression of time means to us and the particular webs in which we've entangled ourselves over the years, we need to re-wire everything for that context. These conversations are changing our relationship and we need to pay more attention to them. There are unexamined fears, expectations, disappointments, and losses that get in the way for each of us in building new thinking, and examining those things has been unsuccessfully relegated to the cracks and crevices of our lives.
Now, a week without children.
Their leaving is so rushed. They're excited to be going, not noticing what it means about when we will see each other again. I don't want to draw attention to that aspect of the trip, yet I can't help wanting a proper goodbye, a hug and a connection between our eyes while we say I love you. I want to charge up their batteries with knowing how much I love them, feeling my love enter their souls. But there are suitcases flying by, rushing and calling for shoes to be put on and last bathrooms to be done. Inevitable resistance feeds off separation anxiety to create a power struggle that I fail to avoid. Then they're buckled in and asking curious questions about the trip, and my last kiss and hug are just a moment of attention, their eyes skirted off before I can catch them.
I have to just let it stand, just as it is. They will carry as much of my love as they hold in their hearts every day, and it will need to be enough to get them through the strangeness, loneliness, homesickness and magnetic pull to be with me.
So here is what I tell myself:
Those moments will be scattered, temporary, and offset by the experience of being in a less familiar but safe place. I trust the relationships their grandparents have built with them, and with me, enough to know that they will be cared for, not just taken care of. They may not have as many of their perceived needs met as with me, but that will be fertile ground for them to practice the work we've done together around comforting ourselves and jumping over emotional hurdles. They will be safe, they will have lots of opportunities for fun and for down-time, and they will have hugs and love when they need it.
Okay, I've covered the logical reasons why I shouldn't feel upset. Now I need to jump the emotional hurdle, right? So I need to find a way to look at this positively. Okay. Here is what I tell myself:
This is good practice for me, a good way to strengthen emotionally because every day, they are moving away from my protection and my influence, and the best thing I can do is show them how I manage so they can judge for themselves how it fits with their beings.
That's my attempt at positive thinking. Please don't laugh, I'm trying. It's very logical. Sounds sound. But jumping the hurdle with my thinking always feels like trickery to me, smoke and mirrors. It has no integrity, even though I do believe the positive aspects to be true. They simply are not The Truth.
I feel the emotional umbilical cord between my heart and theirs become painfully taut. I feel it physically, it stretches forward through my skin and into the world, faintly pulsing. With my breath it strains through my chest; my skin tingles and slightly burns. My breasts are hard and my nipples erect. My heart is reaching, reaching to keep them safe. My mind is soothing, soothing to let it go. Like the births themselves. Relax into it, ride the wave of the pain, breathe slowly and fully, let it go. My breath is ragged but I hold it steady and full. My eyelids spill tears down my face as they close. I hear a roaring behind my ears as the muscles in my head strain in contraction and release.
The wave passes. My head aches. My muscles feel sore through my chest, neck and head. I correct my posture, massage my temples and along the back of my skull. My thumb pulls downward, lengthening a neck muscle. I focus my mind on my breath and let my hands and body work together, adjusting and using pressure in intuitive ways that immediately improve my alignment. I feel blood flow where it was constricted.
I find myself at the yoga mat I never seem to put away. From shavasana, I move my body and stretch over my hands behind my back, putting pressure where needed, supporting stretches that sing to me through my hips and lower back. Some movements begin to approximate yoga poses that I am familiar with, and when I notice this, I become more deliberate about moving into the pose. Even so, I stay in free-form mode, moving as my body feels. There. Hold, settle in. Breathe. Release. Without actively deciding, I allow my conscious focus to stay with my breath and let my body choose its movements with only the barest mindful intercession. I am in my slowly moving body, without needing to control it to any end. At peace.
Clearly in my mind ring these words:
You can release them into the safe unknown and put down your burden for today, my love. Heal. Be.