Day 59/365 Trapeze, No Net?

Yesterday I wrote about how being partnerless on Mother’s Day feels a bit lonely. I wondered why I felt this way this year, when I’ve been a single parent for the past three. Somehow being without a partner was feeling heavier to me this year.

Running it all through my mind in a stream of consciousness way…Mother’s Day….Mother’s Day without a husband, not so bad…Mother’s day without a husband and without a fatherwounding. Why?

I feel the feminist inside me dying as I write this, but I think it’s about traditional roles. “The dad” (and then the husband/dad) is the protector. The mom is the nurturer.  Here I am nurturing my ass off and where is my protector?

He’s gone.

They are both gone, albeit in entirely different ways.

When you get married, (if you’re lucky) your dad “gives you away.”  They literally ask that at the alter, “Who gives this woman…” (Actually, writing it down this way, it seems so perverse; creepy even. I’d like to think I was not a possession to be given away, but…)

It’s all about symbolism, right?

I was his only daughter.  To “give me” to someone else – it meant something to him. It meant he was trusting another man to love me as deeply as he did, to honor me and to protect me. To respect me. To keep me safe from harm.

I’m sure some readers are rolling their eyes or suppressing vomit at the moment – but I believe all that. I’m an independent, self sufficient woman and I still want a man who makes me feel safe, protected, and looked after.

There, I said it (wrote it, whatever). Deal with it.

When all of that safety and care fell away in my marriage, I still had a man in my life who made me feel safe and cared for. In fact, he was the best man I’ve ever known –

My dad.

I was not conscious at the time of the emotional safety net he provided during my trapeze act, for I never needed it.

Going off on my own with my four and seven year old daughters in tow, I was strong (as strong as I could have been at the time). I was capable.

Deep down, though, I suppose I always knew that if I fell – really fell – he would catch me. He would keep me safe.

So now…

I guess I feel a bit like a trapeze artist who has suddenly looked down only to realize the net – the one she always knew was there for her –

That net has vanished, and it’s scary as hell up here.

Even though she knows it was never really the net that kept her safe; it was herself.

Just the same, knowing the net was there made it feel safer to take risks…

It made it easier for her to step off the platform and to trust herself to make it to the other side in one piece.

She knows the show must go on…

She’ll steady her breath, fix her gaze ahead, and stay balanced,

…but she’ll miss that net.

Day 58/365 On (Single) Mothers’ Day

The girls and I got in late last night after a week-long trip. By morning they had both made their way into my bed. As soon as Beau opened her eyes she softly murmured, “Happy Mother’s Day.”  Ruby followed suit, and nuzzled her face into my neck. All of us, a bit exhausted from our vacation, laid there for a while together – a warm tangle of arms, legs, and blankets.

Since we’d been away all week, they would soon be going to spend the day with their dad, despite it being Mother’s Day.  I really felt okay with that, having been with them 24-7 for the past week. Some alone time would be good, I thought.  Mother’s Day is just a day.

Just another Hallmark-inspired holiday.

Their dad came to pick them up, and he asked the girls if they had wished me a Happy Mother’s Day (a polite gesture, of course). He did not offer up the sentiment himself. I wasn’t really sure why that bothered me, after all I’m not his mother.  I’m not even his wife, anymore.

Thinking about it some more, I realized why this omission struck a chord. It’s because as a single parent, there’s no one (with an adult perspective) who sees all that you put into being a good parent.

There isn’t anyone there with you through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  You miss having someone to witness you at your best and at your worst; someone who can therefore authentically and lovingly say, “You are a good mother.” (Or father)

Best case scenario – you have a partner who feels, without a doubt, that their children’s lives have been made richer for having you as a parent.

I thought about my mother, and how she has had just that sort of partner with her for every one of her Mother’s Days, until this one. He witnessed all that she put into being a good mother (and grandmother) – through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Therefore he could authentically and lovingly say, “You are a good mother.”

OR

“Without a doubt, my life is richer for having you as the mother of our children.”

Of course, I have no idea if he said those exact words, but I can tell you there’s no doubt in my mind he felt that way.  Her children and grandchildren feel that way too.

Our lives have been made richer for having her as a mother and grandmother.

And you know what, I know my children feel that way about me too. I know I am a good mother.  So, why the need for third-party validation?  It all comes back to the idea of being seen, doesn’t it?

It strikes me that losing a partner is not only about missing that person, but…

It’s also this –

No one is there witnessing you, in all of the intimate and authentic ways that a loving partner could.

Though, as I write this, the truth emerges (as it often does) –

The children are witnessing you. They see you as you are.

Yes, they do.

We do.

Mom, we see you, and we adore you.

Crazy hat day in Boca Grande