Well, it's done: my two boys are going to sleepaway camp this summer. It's a few months away, but already, I'm a little teary. I'm pretty sure I will miss them more than they will miss me.
It's not because I am unmissable. While I am sure the boys will relish not brushing their hair or teeth for three weeks, perhaps every so often they will think of me fondly in passing. Like when they look down at the crap around their bunk and think, "Boy, look at my crumpled up clothes-no one can fold them like Mom," or "Wow, Mom would NEVER let us leave the room like this at home." And they will certainly think of me for at least five seconds when they find the pre-addressed and stamped postcards home at the bottom of their luggage at the end of the summer and say, "Oops."
They're boys, after all.
I'm looking forward to the summer and yet simultaneously dreading it, because it confirms what I always suspected: they are growing up. And, as Superman says, "Up, up...and away."
I've had time away from them with training wheels for a while now, though. Since I got divorced when they were 3 and 2 years old, I've lived my life according to the Divorce Pendulum. It swings this way and that: every other weekend, I take them to the ex-husband's house. Wednesday nights, the ex-husband's house. Memorial Day weekend, they'll be here if it's an even year (like 2014, for example), and at my house for Labor Day weekend if it isn't. I joke that God had amazing foresight in granting those of us in the diaspora two seders and two days of Rosh Hashanah: all the better for custody arrangements, my dear.
Since getting remarried, I now have two "full-time" children (though sometimes when the toddler is cranky, my husband and I joke about sending her to my ex's house as well). You'd think this might make the separation from my boys easier. It doesn't. It makes their absence more palpable.
What are the words you are supposed to use to tell a toddler that her two older brothers that she loves are with someone they call "Daddy" who isn't the person she calls "Daddy"? How are you supposed to tell a toddler with no sense of time when her brothers are coming home, let alone why they aren't home? How can I not find this painful when I have to go over it every other week?
When we moved into our old 1880s-era house, we put the boys' rooms on the third floor. In part, the placement was so the boys would have their own space where their Legos would be safe from crawling babies. I will admit, though, that it was also in part because it is too painful for me to go near their rooms when they are empty. If anything, the older they get, the more I love and miss them.
I will never regret my divorce -- I've ended up with an incredible husband and two beautiful baby girls. But in divorcing, I signed up for a lifetime of phone calls from vacations I'm not on, of car doors closing as my boys leave, of never getting to celebrate Father's Day for my father or husband with them present. It's a lifetime of separations.
And all these separations have been, I now see, just a foreshadowing of things to come.