I stood at the bus stop twirling my daughter’s braids this morning, wrapping them around my index fingers, when a friend me asked what my plans were for the weekend.
“Oh, I’m on the loose!” I exclaimed. “My kids are staying with their dad,” I smiled.
My children weren’t listening, so I felt it okay to share this with glee.
But as the words fell from my mouth, what was meant to be something very happy turned darker and sad upon landing. “Well, I mean, I have plans with some friends tonight…but I’ll see them at soccer tomorrow.” (I added this last bit to make myself feel better, even though the mother could care less).
The weekend landscape lay vacuous before me. I would miss my children.
When I first got divorced, I would claim the upside (if there even is one) was that I finally had a moment to myself. I was able to read a book, go for a walk, hang out with friends…drive around. I could roam CVS for face cream, go to the Starbucks drive-thru without ordering Cake Pops, and watch my reality TV for hours without having to turn it off to play Barbies or color.
But, as time has elapsed, three years now, I don’t so much await those free moments anymore.
“What are you going to do this weekend?” I asked the mother back.
“Well, it’s his birthday, and we are going to take him to Legoland and go to the race car track,” she responded. Her son gleamed. I could tell he was pleased.
It occurred to me she might be envious that I was going out with friends for the evening. But what I wanted to tell her is: “Oh, honey, no. Cherish what you have. You have your whole family intact, going to Legoland!”
“I would trade in a heartbeat to have that,” I’d say.
My children sometimes wish aloud that we all still lived together in the same house, so they wouldn’t have to “miss someone.” I’ve thought about it, how that would work, and it simply can’t, for obvious reasons.
“Oh, it’s fine,” I tell them. “You’re so lucky you get TWO houses, and get to spend time with both your mommy and your daddy! Not many kids can say that,” I reply.
I look forward to a break today, but my heart’s just a little bit heavy– even when the weekend sits before me like an open road.
I’d rather be playing Barbies and twirling my girl’s braids.
Alexandra Speck received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Columbia University and studied Journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill Graduate School of Journalism. A former actress and comedienne at Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, Alex also wrote the popular blog Crybaby Soup.
She worked for more than four years as a reporter for WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR Station, where she won an Edward R. Murrow Award for Writing. She is the author of the novel HONOR GIRL (2018). She grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio and spent summers in Woods Hole. She currently resides on Cape Cod with her two children. Read more at www.alexandraspeck.blog