On Feeling Helpless
My daughter is 4 years old, yet I've already racked up quite the parental history. It's amazing what 4 years can do. I could make the history part of this story a 4 pager but I'll give you the cliffs notes version to catch you up:
I married at 21.
Gave birth at 24.
Divorced at 26.
Dating at 27.
Engaged to be married (again) at 28.
Moved to California from Louisiana with my daughter to be with my fiance' and his son at 29.
The move just happened in September of this year, so it's relatively new. My daughter's father has traveled to California numerous times since then to visit her, but for the most part, she has been with me since September. As a part of our agreement we traveled back to Louisiana the day after Christmas so that she could spend the New Year with her father. It was our first time back since the move, and it felt a little strange.
Yesterday morning I got her dressed and kissed her goodbye as her daddy picked her up to spend the week with him. I gave him the run down of everything in her suitcase, which I had carefully packed. She had jackets, coloring books, shoes for every occasion, games, and her favorite stuffed animals. I was prepared. She was prepared.
Then at 4:30 this morning my cell phone rang. Still in a a bit of a sleepy cloud, I answered. In the background I can hear her wailing "owweee, owwee!" and my ex-husband tells me that she has been inconsolable for an hour, complaining that her ears hurt. He is asking if I think he should take her to the ER.
Yes. Yes, I do.
He tells me he will think about it and call me back. He hangs up. I panic.
I fight the urge to jump out of bed and meet them at the ER. I wake my fiance' so that he can find our insurance card, which my ex-husband will need should he decide to take her for emergency treatment. He locates the card and I call back to let him know I can meet him somewhere with it. She is still crying in the background.
My heart breaks.
I love my life, and I'm extremely happy, but at moments like this one you realize why divorce really sucks. I couldn't be there to console my sweet little girl, to hug her, to kiss her, to rock her - and it broke my heart into a million little pieces. Her daddy does all of those things - but it doesn't make me want to be there any less. It kills me that I have to give her up at all - if I had my way she would be with me 24/7 - for no other reason than my own selfishness.
He puts her on the phone so she can talk to me, which seems to calm her down a bit. My fiance' reassures me - she will be fine, she just needed to talk to her mommy. Around 6:30 am she falls asleep, and doesn't wake back up until 11. This afternoon my ex-husband takes her to the doctor and sure enough, she has a double ear infection. He calls me with the doctor in the room - what medicine did she take last? Do you think she should get an injection or should we wait 3 days for the antibiotics to kick in. All questions that I have to answer over the phone, and not in person. Agony.
We decide on an injection, which I know is a very painful one (she has had it before). She cries hysterically in the background. Again, I feel completely helpless.
This is the stuff they don't tell you about in Cosmo. Divorce is painful for many reasons, but almost all of those reasons fade eventually, except for the ones revolving around your children. Not only do those stay fresh, but sometimes, like last night and this morning, they are ripped open again, fresh and raw. It's awful. The feeling of helplessness weighs heavily on me.
This summer she will fly back to Louisiana for a ten week visit. This morning made me realize just how tough those ten weeks are going to be. I will be back to feeling helpless, to worrying about her every hour. I'm dreading it, but I know there is nothing I can do about it.
I just pray that there are no more 4:30 am phone calls. Those are too much to bear.