On Call Parent

168. That’s how many hours there are in a week.  87,600. That’s how many hours there are in a decade. On April 25, I will have been on duty as a parent for 87,600 hours. It’s a sobering thought. Hell, it’s an exhausting thought.

This past week has been basically been a series of Mondays tossed together. Nothing has gone according to plan. There hasn’t been enough sleep, coffee, or moments of silence. In the 168 hours of this week, I feel like I was the on call parent for 160 of them. I’m exhausted physically, emotionally, and mentally. Instead of sleeping, like any sleep-deprived parent should do, I’m sitting here in the dark. To my left, there is a wiggly baby who just let out a high-pitched squeal. She hasn’t been sleeping well at night. This has also translated into barely napping during the day. Being overtired contributes to not sleeping well at night. Baby not sleeping well means I’m not sleeping well. Being overtired leads to sitting up after midnight typing out the words that are swirling around in my head. It also means I’ll be drinking too many cups of coffee tomorrow and fervently hoping to take a nap at some point during the day. Fingers crossed, y’all.

Hope, however, isn’t a plan. I hoped this week would be different than last week. Oh, it was. No more hamsters were found lurking in the backyard (Hallelujah!), but I did have to hear how I’m the worst mom ever and how I should just run away. Today I was told that I don’t care about anyone and that I treat everyone like crap. Six year olds are thrilling.

St.Patrick’s Day. The beginning.

     The hardest truth is the one you are not ready, or willing, to accept. It is the one that lingers in the back of your mind, that you push down and lie to yourself as you pretend you will deal with it later. Tomorrow, you promise. Tomorrow, I’ll think about it. Tomorrow, I will open the box and unpack my emotions. Tomorrow never comes.

     It is hard to realize that you can love a person, treasure their friendship, enjoy their company, but not be their ideal life partner. It hurts to know that this person you’ve spent eight years building a life, a family, with deserves someone more than you. Your best friend deserves someone who wants to go to concerts with them, someone who plans a cruise gleefully, someone who can rock out to the same music and understand the importance that melody holds in their soul. It is frightening to also decide that you deserve someone who wants to take a slow walk through the forest, wake up early with you to drink coffee, and who can understand the need to devour books.

     Realizing and accepting are two very different actions. I realized years ago that I hadn’t taken the time I needed, and deserved, to grow up. I needed time to figure out who I was, who I wanted to be, and what I needed from life. Now, at 32, I’ve learned who I am. I am a badass who deserves to be the best version of herself. It just happens that the best version of myself happens when I am an awesome friend and co-parent, but not wife. These past 48 hours have been full of hard truths. These truths have been realized, expanded, discussed, examined, and finally, after many tears, accepted.

     Acceptance has been hard to embrace. It requires admitting fault, raw emotions, and the terrifying fear that you are not enough. It also demands that you be gentle with yourself and extend grace; you may not be enough for this person, but you are enough for yourself. Acceptance allows you to admit that you need to focus on the inner workings of your mind and open that damn box. It’s time to sort through those emotions. Discard the anger, resentment, and fear. Hold tight to the joy, freedom, and hope.

     Fear is the most difficult to discard. It has a way of winding through your soul, whispering softly, and planting seeds of doubt. Yes, I am scared. I’m apprehensive of going back to school and finally getting my degree. I’m terrified of starting a job search that will hopefully end in a promising career. I’m absolutely petrified to tell my children about this new change, this new path that our future holds. Oddly enough, I’m comforted knowing I’m not alone. I’m not the only one feeling this way. We will face this together and separately. Together we will do our very best to make sure that our children never doubt for a second that they are fiercely loved, wanted, and the very best thing that ever happened to us. Separately, we will mourn, grow, and find joy again.

     While there are so many unknowns concerning the future, I am holding tightly to what I know. I know that I respect and admire both the man that I married and the man I will divorce. I’m keeping his last name because we built a family. We are keeping our family. We won’t be the same as we were before, but I know we will be better in the long run. There will be growing pains and bumps. I know that more tears will be shed and that at times I’m going to wish we could return to “before.” It will be challenging. It will be heart-wrenching. It will have joyful moments, sorrow filled pauses, and calming soul-soothing experiences. It will be good. It will be bad. It will be right.

     Throughout it all, our top priority will never change. Ella, Noah, Violet, and Penelope are the most important tasks we have ever undertaken. We are both committed to making sure they have the best lives possible. We want them to grow and be strong, compassionate, brave souls who change the world for the better. We want them to know love; deep, rich, pure love. We are going to give them our best. We may be opposites on so many other things, but this is the one area that we have never faltered on. We may have failed as life partners, but we are going to kick ass and be amazing co-parents. For now, that’s enough.

 

03/17/18. Seemingly innocent date. I was determined to get Noah and Violet’s rooms cleaned. My sister and her girlfriend were coming to spend their Spring Break with us. I had already gotten Ella’s room in decent shape, so I was even more determined to tackle the messy room that was Noah’s and the disaster that was, and still is, Violet’s. Lee offered to help and I accepted.

I honestly do not know how the conversation turned into what it did. He asked what I thought of him as a roommate; did he have any living habits that were negative? Somehow that simple question morphed into a tear-filled conversation that left us both emotionally exhausted. I remember him saying “We have tried so hard for eight years. We have tried so hard. It shouldn’t be this hard. I don’t know if I have any try left.”  Hell, I didn’t know if I had any try left either. The more we talked, the more it became obvious that it wasn’t a lack of work that was missing. It was something more complex and hard to fully explain.

Some things simply do not mesh well. Oil and water. Orange juice and mint. Great by themselves, not so great together. As we talked, things unraveled. It wasn’t mean-spirited; it wasn’t meant to hurt or to be harsh. A day later, as I stumbled trying to explain how I felt to Lee, it came to me. We don’t have much in common; we have no shared passions beyond our children. There are things we both enjoy; for example, taking a hike. Lee’s idea is to get in and get out, similar to a boot camp hump. You don’t take your time. You take the shortest distance to your detestation and you make it in the fastest time possible. Which, honestly, is perfect for some people. That’s what they want; the accelerated heart rate, sweat, and sense of accomplishment. It becomes problematic when your hiking partner isn’t interested in racing. I would rather take my time, examine the scenery, look under rocks and leaves for animals with the kids, have mini science lessons and discussions about what they’ve found. I’m not in a rush to find the end. I’m sure you can imagine the difficulties when these two hiking styles are presented in partners attempting to finish a trail. Throw in children and it basically devolves into chaos.

We both enjoy music, but even that statement feels a little false. I enjoy music. I like a wide variety that ranges from Hamilton to Lady Antebellum, Prince to The Supremes, Billie Holiday to Ja-Rule, Miranda Lambert to Cross Canadian Ragweed. It’s clearly an eclectic mix. I’ve been to concerts. They were fun, but they weren’t life altering. I have tattoos, but not ones dedicated to my favorite bands. I hate singing in front of people because I’m fairly positive my voice is terrible. I certainly have never made a video of me singing and posted it to social media. I enjoy music, but it isn’t my passion. Lee spent years in band and choir in school. He was in bands, a regular at karaoke bars, and has sung at events. He plays several instruments and can belt out a tune without hesitation. He hears pitch and notes; I’m basically deaf in that regard. I’ve never been to an Incubus concert and Lee has seen them every time they’ve toured. He is a huge, unwavering fan of Brandon Boyd. I only know his name because I’ve been married to Lee for nearly eight years.

When we announced that we were getting married, my mom was ecstatic. She told me that Lee was what I needed; he was the fun to my seriousness. She hoped he would help me lighten up. I’m sure it worked for a while. He does make me laugh. After a few years, however, I was tired of all the fun. I was tired of being the serious one. I was tired of his brand of humor just as he was annoyed by my dry, sarcastic comments. In the interests of total transparency, I am going to be honest. I am sick of being the boring parent who never does the fun stuff. I do the doctor, the dentist, the speech therapist, the clothes shopping, the grocery shopping. I rarely have time to be fun. When fun opportunities present themselves, I still am the responsible parent. The planning parent. The parent who finds the socks, the shoes, the sunscreen, and find out the opening/closing hours and directions. I’m still the serious one. I have to be.

I have privately vowed to never talk badly about Lee to the children. I am vowing here and now that I will not use this medium to bash him. This isn’t meant to paint him in a horrible light or to present myself as a long-suffering saint. I am aiming for transparency, honesty, and, perhaps, a bit of grace. I want to express my feelings, my hopes, my fears, my triumphs, and my defeats. In these past eight years, out of everything, I have learned that I have to be honest with myself. That means facing unpleasant truths. It means looking deep into my soul and doing hard, frustrating, and terrifying work. This will be my safe place, my way to untangle the various strings that have been in place for years.

My name is Savanna. I’m going through a divorce. I’m parenting four children. I’m handling being the adult child of an alcoholic. I have general anxiety disorder. I fight depressive episodes. I bake, I cry, and I love a good margarita. I am a badass who is learning her strength. I’m a tea bag in a cup of hot water. I will be strong.