We’ve all been there. You’re feeling good, positive days building one after the other, rising in hope, belief in a brighter future, revelling in the joy of life, on the crest of a wave…and then it all comes crashing down.
Then you’re falling, tumbling, crashing on the rocks underneath. Desperately trying to grab hold of something, anything, for that bit of safety, a bit of security and stability.
Right now I’m tumbling. I don’t know what way is up or down or when I’ll be able to gasp for air. I’m still thinking, still trying to remain calm, get my head above the water. Thing is, if it was just my problem I could handle it better. But it’s not exactly mine. It’s my son’s.
Any caring parent out there will tell you how their happiness is intrinsically linked to their children. When they are worried, or upset, or unhappy, you feel it too. You long for some superpower, some magic ability, to take that pain away from them. As a relatively recently single parent that feeling is magnified. That’s the feeling I have been dealing with today, amongst others.
It started last night about an hour before bedtime. My boy was a bit subdued, a bit quieter than usual. When it came to bedtime I thought I would try something new. I told him to go to bed without me. I wanted to get some writing done.
You see, since the day his mother left my son moved into my bed. He’s still there now and will only go to bed when I do and rises with me. Whilst there was some hesitation, he agreed. I told him I am only in the room next door and will be in bed in about an hour but that he had school in the morning and needed to go to sleep now. He did that. I didn’t give it another thought. Now I’m thinking I should have waited until another time and just did my usual thing of sneaking out to do my writing after he was asleep. The timing wasn’t right.
When he awoke this morning the quietness was still there. Then he didn’t want his breakfast. He loves his breakfast and has always had a big appetite. I tried not to think about what that meant but I knew what was going on. I’ve seen the signs too many times before. And I knew there was very little I could do about it. He was thinking about his mother. My soon-to-be ex-wife. He was missing her.
I acted like I normally do in the morning. Tried to buoy him up with my energy. Let him see his daddy is feeling alive, purposeful, ready for a new day. Still he remained relatively quiet. That little cloud in his mind was lingering over him, getting bigger, growing darker. Consuming his thoughts with its gloom.
He managed a quarter bowl of cereal. Got dressed. And we headed off to school in the car. He barely spoke on the short drive there. I was trying to ignore the growing suspicion that we might not make it. I knew he could break at any moment. We drove into the school car park. Still just about ok.
But when I parked the car I looked and saw a single tear running down the side of his cheek. He wasn’t crying out loud, nor had he even made a sound. I knew he was trying to be strong. Trying to be brave and face the school day. I spoke his name in a tone of concern. Before I even had a chance to say anything else he started sobbing.
Even thinking about this now as I am writing is wrenching the muscle of my heart. Tearing me up inside.
As I’ve mentioned before. Since his mother left he has missed a lot of school. I’ve had 2 meetings with an Educational Welfare Officer, the school principal, and his teacher. The thin ice we are skating on is replete with ever-widening cracks. If he misses one more day I am to call the EWO immediately. Things will get very serious, very quickly.
Thing is, he knows all this. He knows what could happen. He also knows I am on a warning from work regarding attendance. It’s an added pressure I don’t think his young mind should have. Especially as he is trying to cope with all the feelings that have put us in this position. Feelings that are the fault of his mother and I.
The last time this happened (See Torn Asunder) he soldiered on. This time as I talked to him the only thing he could say between the sobs was: “I can’t”.
We sat in a tearful silence. Him and I. No words being spoken. Just hugging each other. It was all I could do.
After a while I managed to persuade him to go in. It was just after 9:30am. I told him I would pick him up at 12. That it would mean he would be marked present. Technically it wouldn’t be a day missed. I walked him in. Thankful for this small mercy but still filled with worry and stress.
I arrived at my work by 10. Had to tell them I had to leave again at 11:30. It was an awkward situation.
When I picked my son up again the Principal called me into his office. He was just concerned. He told me he had been happy with my son’s progress. I saw my boy through the windowpane in the door. Saw the concern on his face. A few moments later I went to him and we walked out of the school and got into the car. I could tell he was worried. His little face filled with apprehension, carrying too much weight. I allayed his fears and we went home.
He settled a while later. A computer game he likes had a big update with lots of new points of interest. Enough to keep him distracted from his thoughts. Thoughts I know are still there. Lurking in the background. Waiting for their next moment.
I just don’t know what to do other than be here for him. Let him know I will do everything I can for him. That I am not going anywhere. I wish I could take all his pain away. Replace that hurt with love. But he has a gap I don’t think I can fill. No matter my positivity or best hopes. Counselling has been arranged but is slow in coming.
On top of that just before I sat to write this I found out my uncle died of a heart attack today. To be honest I have debated even saying that. To be really honest I can’t really comprehend that at the minute. My mind’s too awash with the challenges of today, my feelings of impotence, my son’s unhappiness.
My ‘wife’ is currently downstairs with our son. The woman whose love I miss. As I said. I don’t know which way is up or down. My mind is under water. But I will hold on until I can take that breath. My boy needs me. He is tumbling too. He needs the stability a parent can provide and that’s something I will do no matter how strong the current.