Thursday, June 24, 2010


About six months ago, a friend (who has a child close to Ben's age) made this incredibly poignant and heartbreaking statement to me:

"Janeen, our time with our children is one-third over. They've just turned six, and then they will be twelve and then, eighteen. And then, (if all goes to plan), they will be gone."

Whoa. Whoa. WHOA.

Truth be told, I've wanted to write about this, this passage of time, since my friend uttered those words to me. But I haven't been able to. The realization of my baby boy marking one-third of his time with me was sobering. It haunted me. I was in complete denial. I still am, to some extent.


Just a few short years ago, I was wishing away the messy diapers. I negotiated the banishment of binkies. I spent my days on the floor with toys that blinked and beeped and animals that bellowed. Nights were in the blue rocking chair, singing lullabies and softly pushing the hair away from my baby's face. I said a prayer of gratitude every time I managed to run the neighborhood streets with a baby, a jogger stroller and a dog. I cried outside the preschool for two years, while my child sobbed for me inside. I yearned for orderly mealtimes, restful nights, a day without tantrums. Truth be told, I wasn't much in the moment.


Then my husband and I separated. Life became more about survival and less about funny faces in the rear view mirror. Time on the floor with Matchbox cars was traded for time learning a new trade. My days as a "hands-on" mom were fewer, my nights missing Ben were more frequent. I was in the moment, but I didn't like it much.


I don't have any regrets; like any single mom, I did what I could and I did it the best way that I knew. I had to spend more nights away than I wanted. I had to travel for training. I had to study. I had to build a business.

Ben had my mom, thank God. We had resources. We also had stress. We had moments of complete frustration, total helplessness. One time, while entertaining my then two-year-old in the backyard, I fell to my knees with my head in my hands, overcome by emotion. When I glanced up, mere seconds later, he was in tears too. I was so in the moment.


I re-tooled my career so that I could have complete control over how much time I spent at work. I chose quiet nights at home with stacks of kids books over a spectacular social life. I scheduled vacations for myself when I knew Ben would be with his dad. I tried to maximize every moment.


I taught myself how to re-create this entire single mom life by embracing what I have and not holding on to ideas of what I don't have. It's a learned practice. Admittedly, I'm not all that good at it. I take it moment by moment.


I have a brief snippet of time to enjoy this one child. There are fleeting chances with him, almost daily, when my heart hurts from experiencing the closest thing possible - in my life - to divine love. I have to send this child away more than I want, and because of this, I have enormous gratitude for the time he spends with me and I hold onto those moments tightly when he is not here.

I have an inherent sense of my purpose - to guide, protect and nurture this child until he doesn't need me. But I hope that he always needs me. I want motherhood to be my moment; my moment to shine.


As we transition to the second block of six years that Ben will be with me, I pause and wonder what will change.

More time at school, more hours on the soccer and baseball fields, more friends, more video games, more appetite, more homework, more attitude, more awkwardness, more opinions, more choices, more words.

Less pitter patter, less McDonald's outings, less innocence, less structure, less tears, less gentleness, less shyness, less reliance, less precociousness.


Will there be early mornings in bed, with his body curled into mine? Will there be rainy afternoons and countless games of Uno? Will there be spontaneous hugs? Soap sundaes in the bathtub? Long, languid summer nights of swimming? Impromptu trips to the Lego store? Sick days on the couch with movies and 7up?


Will he be as loquacious, as loving, as silly? Will my mother's presence inspire sheer delight? Will he still call my dad, "Grandpa Bop?" Will he know that I'll always be his soft place to land; his shelter from the storm of divorce? Will he still want to be with me as much as he does now? Will he count off the days until he's here again?


Will he raid my jewelry box, looking for the most sparkly ring, and then squirrel it off to his room? Will he try on a leopard vest of mine and call it his "raccoon suit?" Will he rush out of class with a worried look on his face, then spot me and break into the biggest grin possible? Will he run to me, despite warnings from the teacher, and press some little object into my hand; some "treasure" he's found for me on the playground at recess?


At Little League games, will he seek me out with his eyes and make sure that I see his big wave? Will he call the dog, "my girl" in his high, baby voice? Will he sweetly stroke the dog's head and comment repetitively on "her soft, soft ears?" Will he greet every person who enters our home as his new friend?


Will he stare at the tomato plant, willing it to grow? Will he jump and down in excitement over the first zuchini of the season, even though he hates zuchini? Will he collect rocks for me? Pick flowers for me? Push a twig behind my ear and say, "Awww, Mommy, you look so pretty!"


Will we walk through Trader Joe's and pick out groceries together? Will he flirt with the checker? Will he give her a coy look? A small smile? Will he charm my clients when they walk through the door with his giggle, his tousled hair, his references to "the girl?" Will he fight me over going to church? Will he sit with me in the pew and color quietly? Will he call himself a "church mouse?" Will he say about the after church donut treat, "it's the biggest bagel I ever saw!"


Will he know that half the time - at least - I don't know what I'm doing, but that my love for him is the most undying thing on Earth? Will he conspire with me about the ways of the world? Will we share conversations about the injustices of relationships? Will I be able to teach him about forgiveness? And about rising above things that don't matter? And that diplomacy does matter so very, very much and that being right isn't always very gratifying? And that politeness will get you everywhere? And disrespect will get you nowhere? Will he rest his head on my shoulder when we read together? Will he be on of those people that "gets it?"


Will he still be introspective? Will he worry like me? Will he look at me pensively when he isn't sure of something? Will he have many, many layers of understanding, compassion and warmth? Will he trust? Will he keep his mind and his heart open to any and all possibilities? Will his brown eyes be as big? And as sparkly? Will he look at me like I'm his heroine?

Will he? Will he? Will he?


And will I be able to do this? Sheppard my son into his boyhood years? Help him find his way? Establish accountability and boundaries? Nurture his spirit? Cultivate his own truths, his own values, his own presence in the world? Co-parent in a way that fosters respect and empathy? Make him believe that he is capable of anything, everything and that optimism will bring endless potential?

Can I? Can I? Can I?


So there, it's done. I needed to have this closure; this sense of moving into the next phase with complete appreciation for where we've been, where we've come to and now, for where we're going.

I don't know what the future holds. I have my intentions and I keep them close, and then I set them free when it's appropriate. I have my goals. I have my dreams. I have this crazy, wild ride called Single Parenthood.

And I have this incredible child who has taught me so many things, who has blessed me in so many ways, who has given me more reasons to open my arms to possibilities and to open my heart to the amazing current of love that flows through every single moment of our days together.

Thank you, Ben. You delight me. You inspire me. Your laughter makes our house a home. You give your love so graciously and freely. You complete the entire world around me.

Welcome to "The Two-Thirds" phase!

A big thank-you to my friend, S for imparting such words of wisdom. Sage advice, my friend!


existingwithintention said...

Just try your best to live in the present. Its all we really have.

Lish said...

Wow, wow, wow. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Shelley said...

Love the photo of Ben in the bathtub, no more Presto baths :)
You are doing such an amazing job journaling your moments with Ben. I am still thinking about her 1st year time capsule, the letter I was suppose to write :}

許紀廷 said...


Second Chance Moon said...

Wonderful and true and thanks from another single mom.

Briana said...

Oh How I love reading your blog!!!! You always make me realize how precious our time is with our children :) Thanks to you, I tend to slow down a little and really enjoy my time with my kids. Time goes by sooo fast.....Your blog is WONDERFUL and I only wish I could have your skills!!! Meeting you and becoming your friend has changed many things in my life, for the better! THANK YOU Janeen :)