I need to remember not to short myself on sleep.
This weekend has been a weird one, because it is the first entire weekend that I have not had the toddler at all. I’m trying to think if J ever took Little Guy for a full weekend back when we were together. I think she probably must have, but even if she did, I would have still seen him during the day, and helped with baby responsibilities. Breastfeeding means you are never too far from your child, so there never was the opportunity for me to really “get away.” And since J and I separated, she has only taken him every other Saturday (in addition to some weekday days, which are lightweight parenting days and so busy with work stuff anyway that I often barely notice them).
J was recently talking about taking our kiddo almost 50% of the time (6 days out of 14 instead of 5, and every other entire weekend instead of every other Saturday). But then field work season started and her schedule got crazy, and now she will only have him every other Fri-Sat-Sun.
I know that I am going to have kiddo for plenty of time in the very near future, therefore. But I still don’t know how to manage my time. Friday night I stayed up way too late printing out pictures to put in the blank picture frames on my wall. I had been staring at those frames since my move-in and even though completing my home decorating literally affects no-one but myself (J did pop by on Saturday briefly to pick up a baby carrier, and didn’t even notice the change on the walls), it was something I wanted to do. But, I stayed up until 3:30a Saturday working on the project, and I had to be somewhere at 9a Saturday, which meant I was shorting myself on sleep. Which also meant I was in a sort of funky mood all Saturday and my cold, which has hung on for weeks and weeks in the form of a nasty cough, started to make a bit of a resurgence.
Saturday morning I went to a parent cleanup day at my son’s daycare. There I helped with some weeding and gardening, chatted with some nice people, and wished my kiddo was there with me (there were a lot of other daycare kids out playing while the grown-ups worked).
Saturday evening I took a short nap before heading out to a local restaurant / bar for a drinks meetup with some ladies from my parent group. I don’t have the opportunity to participate in the group very often anymore (it’s pretty much entirely geared to stay-at-home schedules) and I was excited at the opportunity to get out. And, it was an okay evening. I had a decent time, although being short on sleep meant that I was feeling a little more socially trepidacious than usual, and I spent a lot of the evening trying to suppress my coughing.
When I got home, just before midnight, I sat on my couch and looked at the pictures on my walls and kind of felt like shit. I have chosen to put up photos of the things in my life that have made me happy, and for me that means photos of family and outdoor trips. And unfortunately almost everything is entangled with J. I purposely have only allowed a few pictures of J herself to remain on the wall: There is a picture of the two of us holding Little Guy, and there is a close-up of J and little guy together on a hike. I put these up because I want to acknowledge that, despite the split, J is still family. And because I want the toddler, when he really starts to notice pictures, to feel that he has a whole family, despite the separation and upcoming divorce.
But then there are the other pictures. I haven’t taken many photos on my own, and so most of the ones on the wall come from trips J and I have taken — together alone, with a dog, or with dog and kid. If you look closely at some of the photos you can actually see J — a silhouetted figure, a pair of boots sticking in the frame, etc. But if anybody other than me looked at the photos what they would see is a lot of scenery shots, pictures of me, my kid, and my dog (who is also gone now, but in a different way). I want to reclaim these places as mine, as parts of the world I have visited and felt better for visiting. I want to visit more places and take more pictures and slowly build my life and my wall-photos up from the new experiences. But for right now, I see these pictures and I see the things I have framed — the places, my dog, my kid, me — and I see J. Always. J, in the background, just like she is in real life. I don’t know how to move forward and make her distance from me hurt less. It would be so much easier if we weren’t co-parenting, if I could take a summer job someplace new and start over. But I can’t. She is here, and yet she is not here. I have to learn to live with that, and rebuild my life all the same.