After a few years, in order to disconnect myself from my difficult reality at home, I'd escape to my best friend's house in St. George. I'd show up there, monthly, for a while, and stay the duration of my children's week long visit with their father. Being with her was the best medicine for my aching heart.
After five years, I was remarried and expecting another baby, and Conor proved to be a healing balm. Now I was never without the fruit of my womb, and taking care of him helped me not feel so empty as a mother while the older three were away. But still, each time I drove the five hours to Arizona to drop them at our halfway point, I was giving myself pep talks to keep from crying. When the highway mile markers counted down the last ten miles I developed this pit in my stomach that knotted itself more tightly as we drove, and I would be filled with this urge to impart last bits of motherly wisdom, advice, and love. Just in case. Goodbyes are the worst. I would cry and pray as I headed back west toward home.
Things have gotten easier.
I still don't like it when my children are gone, but there are elements of the time apart, the break from normal life, that have become beneficial for me. Now, though I don't look forward to them being gone, I can look forward to the time away from routine and busyness for spiritual renewal and personal reflection. That's what I've learned to do with the quiet house and the extra time.
I use their visits with their dad to improve me. As a person, a woman, a mother. I evaluate what is working and what isn't. I pray about each of my children's needs and challenges and spend a little more time listening for answers. I read my scriptures more, I write in my journal more, I try to spend some more time in service, and with friends. I spend one-on-one time with Conor, and I try to accomplish some tasks around the house. I use the time to fill me up, so that I have more to give when I put my cloak of motherhood back on.
This has been a small miracle within my heart, as the years have gone by. Nothing can be done about the fact that my marriage to their dad did not work out. I cannot allow them to feel like life ended when that marriage did, but rather that we take the challenges that come and find a way to be blessed by even the most difficult circumstances.
I drove to pick them up on Saturday, after a two week hiatus. I was so excited to see them, to have them in my arms, to listen to their voices in the car, to have them in the house, filling it up again with their personalities and life forces. I was excited to cook for them, to pick up after them, to have them near me. They need me. I am the one who knows every detail, who can keep it all straight, who knows who needs to be where and when, what's coming up today and what's coming up next week. I am the one who has nourished every aspect of their growing beings. I am mom.
Today I woke up two minutes before my alarm went off. Which just goes to show how deeply within my soul I am a mother, connected to my babies, because I haven't been up this early in a month. But today was back to Seminary, scones for breakfast, scripture study and prayer and dropping them off at school. Today was directions about classes that Dylan needs for second semester, reminders about Aiden's healing feet (no running at recess! Perfect for LAUSD), and arranging for Lyndsay to work after school this afternoon.
Today will be full and happy, and so am I.