The other night at about two a.m., my little boy called out, "Daddy! Daddy..." and my husband got out of bed to go soothe the little guy. I lay in bed and cried, quietly dabbing tears on the flat sheet and trying not to sniff when said husband crawled back into bed. He returned to sleep and I cried until I screamed inwardly at myself to stop. Sometime later I too fell asleep.
Normally I might be grateful that one of our kids picked my husband out of slumber and not me, but the last two years haven't felt very normal to me. Right now I have the flu and everyone deals with that at some point. But it's coming after two weeks of the best health I've had in a long time, and I feel like I got clotheslined twenty feet off the starting line.
What I've dealt with in the last few years isn't nearly as serious as cancer or tragic accidents, but it's the constant start-stop-start-stop that's exhausting. Each time something else ails me, I’m distanced from my kids. Many times due to contagion, and a few times due to surgery that prevents me from picking them up for a month at a time.
When my kid is hurt and crying and reaching arms up to Mama and I just stand there offering a hug but nothing nearly as comforting as a full hold, it makes my stomach turn. Eventually, they automatically turn to Grammy or Daddy.
Mama's sick. She's hurt.
I’ll do what I can, but that thing you want? I can’t. Running, swinging, spur-of-the-moment fun is not my game now. Ask someone else. And you don’t understand, so you cry. We cry.
Last month, the pitter-patter of nighttime feet padded down the hall to my parents in the guest room, rather than to my bed. The other night, it was calling out to Daddy.
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My older boy comes home from school and gets serious, quiet. "How are you feeling, Mama?" Very sweet and concerned. Breaks my heart.
I’m beyond thankful for the people in our world who love my kids whole-heartedly. I am not blind to the fact that one of these days, I’ll be well and fed up on a particular day and feel ready to get out by myself. But today, today I miss my kids.
They’re just down the hall, but I miss them.
It hurts like crazy.
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