Nearly four years ago, when things had gone belly up in my marriage and my husband had moved out to his parents’ house I was given a book. A dear family friend who had experienced this awful, horrendous situation before me actually gave me quite a few books. Some for me and some for the kids (her son was the same age as my daughter when she separated from her husband). Last night my daughter unearthed one of the children’s books; Two Homes. She announced she was going to read it. I thought nothing much of it. It’s a fairly decent picture book about a child having two homes (hence the title :)) and how sometimes the child will spend time with their mum, sometimes their dad, but they can still speak to the absent parent and both parents still love them despite living under two roofs. The theory seems simple and straightforward as an adult…unless you’re going through it and this is your real life and every morning when you wake up you want to crawl back into bed but you can’t as you have two young children depending on you. I remember reading this book to the pair of them when things were so raw, swallowing back tears and putting on that brave face that I’m oh so familiar with now in order to let them see that everything would be fine and this was the way things were now and they were still as loved and cherished as ever. I think I even put the book in the bag going to their dad’s so he could read it to them too. I’m not sure he ever did that however.
We were all fairly restless last night. My son crawled into my bed at 5am. Shortly after I heard the soft footsteps of my daughter looking for a glass of water. The alarm was due to sound at 6.30am so a glass of water was retrieved from the kitchen and she was returned to bed. At this point the dog was up, wagging his tail. He too was sent back to his bed. At 6.10am my son decided the dog should join us in bed. I must admit I was cross and cranky. I turned my back to both dog and son and tried to get a few more precious minutes of sleep. The alarm went off. Both dog and son now fast asleep again; the cheek! I woke everybody to start the day. School mornings are frantic. Don’t get me wrong I love nothing more than squeezing both children tight in bed in the mornings, nuzzling into their bed heads as they paint pictures about their dreams or nightmares and I soothe them with cuddles and words but this morning we had to get up and start the day.
I went down to make multiple breakfasts (we can never agree to eat the same thing like those picture-perfect Instagram accounts) and my son announced he was going to read Two Homes. Again, I thought nothing of it. I’ve never hidden the book. It’s sat gathering dust on a bookcase. Time passed as I boiled the kettle, popped the toaster, washed the dog bowl, I even managed to hang a wash on the line. My daughter arrived downstairs. She announced her brother had gone back into his own bed and he was crying. I took a break from morning chores and went to console the now inconsolable one. He couldn’t articulate why he was upset but he was definitely upset. I’ve known for a while that he was holding things in, letting thoughts and feelings and emotions build up inside even though I frequently encourage him to speak to me. Yes it was horrible to see his little blotchy face and watch the tears dripping from his chin but it was needed. That release was overdue. The house move with their dad, the separate bedrooms, the imminent arrival of the baby. The confusion in his head as to what family he belongs to, where do I, his mum, fit in all this? It’s all built up and this morning it proved to be too much for my first born.
By the time we started our walk to school his face had returned to normal; the blotches gone. He announced he had used the last of his hair gel and that he would actually wear school shorts if I bought him a pair (previously he had decided that he was far too cool for such a garment) . He pondered on whether his fidget spinner would be delivered today and he asked me when I would be finishing work and what was for dinner. I shouted I love you as he ran off to class. He shouted it back.