single mom

Big Girl Bed

In under three hours, I’ll be saying those little big words that break my heart and kissing F goodbye. Just the though of saying those words so soon after arriving home makes my heart ache and my nose tingle in the way only noses can tingle before you cry. I’ll see him again in a few days – a week at most – but I’ll miss him dearly until I see that big smile and bounds of energy running towards me for a hug.

I can still remember the first time I held F – he was twelve minutes old before he was laid in my arms. I held him for less than ten minutes before he was whisked away to the nursery for his first bath, J and both of our mothers in tow. It had been a long day, spent walking around the hospital and anxiously waiting to become parents and grandparents. My own wellbeing was in question, and so I spent over an hour hooked up to monitors waiting [im]patiently for my blood pressure to return to normal. I wasn’t even allowed to stand up, much less walk to my room so I sat anxiously in the wheelchair as a nurse pushed me through the hallways to the Mother-Baby unit.

I can still see him wrapped in soft, white flannel looking absolutely perfect and knowing he was mine. I sat on my hospital bed, still hooked up to this monitor and that monitor, watching everyone else hold my baby. We took photos, I ate my first meal of the day, and we laughed and cried together while my heart burst with love and pride. Within a day or two of my return home, after J had gone back to work in the city, I gave up on F’s bassinet: he hated it. We set up his crib, and he hated that too. Finally, after making several trips between my bed and his crib and bassinet, I stripped my bed of pillows and blankets and I laid him next to me. He was asleep within minutes, and our co-sleeping arrangement was born.

I was on the receiving end of a lot of flak over my decision to co-sleep. I had never realized the way my sleeping habits affected those of others (nor did I or do I care). F rarely has nightmares, and has never been afraid of the dark. When he turned two and we had our own home, I bought him a toddler bed and hoped he would sleep in his own room. Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn’t. While I enjoyed having the bed to myself, I always missed him and from time to time I slept in the toddler bed with him. Sharing my bed with him this weekend, after a week of sleeping my my new queen-sized bed alone, was wonderful. My own “big girl” bed will be extra lonely tonight.

The moment of “good-bye” is anxiety-ridden and downright frightening. My heart will break into a million pieces when I put my car in drive and knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. But, it’s not just leaving that scares me. It’s coming home, too. Two weeks ago, F saw his father for the first time in months and referred to him first as “man” and then as “guy”. He eventually settled on calling him Smokey, the nickname all of J’s friends and family members refer to him by. My son didn’t even know his father. What if I come home one day and he doesn’t know me? I don’t think I could possibly cope.

What if the hurtful words slung at me earlier this year are right: what if I’m a bad mom for going back to school? As much as I’ve missed F, I’ve also enjoyed time on my own. I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and – dare I say it – going out and having fun. For the first time in 4 years, I have been able to explore myself and grow as a person. In spite of missing F every minute of every day, I’m enjoying myself: I love my class, my apartment and my new friends. Even though I miss him, I’m the happiest I have been in years, and as much as I decided to go back to school for me, I’m back in school for him.

When all is said and done, I hope F realizes that I had to go to make his life better and I hope that one day, he will be half as proud of me as I am of him.

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