I’m gonna try to go see my kids this weekend. Collin’s birthday is the 21st, but I have to be in Chattanooga that weekend for a convention, so I’ll go a weekend early and make sure they know I love them. Trips to see and spend time with them become a cauldron of mixed emotions. On the one hand, I love every second I get to spend in their presence. My batteries recharge, and they make me feel like a whole person again. Also, I know it’s good for them to have that time with me and feel my presence in their lives. No matter how well he treats them, he’s not their father, and a boy needs to have a relationship with his father as he grows into manhood.
But on the other end of the spectrum, the trips to Jacksonville are physically and emotionally exhausting. It’s a grueling drive down and back, and it usually takes a few days for my legs and back to stop aching. Emotionally, the time with them with always tinged by the knowledge that too soon, the car will be silent for that long drive back, and I will have to endure another six weeks or four months without seeing them. Those long stretches without them are impossible to describe. Other parents who have been through it know what I mean. I still have to live and work and find ways to survive, but there’s an emptiness inside me every moment, and I often find myself feeling lost for no particular reason. The knowledge that the moment I am apart from them again I will have to go back to that feeling always makes the end of the visit pretty harsh.
Maybe one day, I will be able to have more time with them more frequently, and maybe the times apart won’t be so difficult. I do know that now whenever I hear a woman complaining about her ex and how little time he spends with his kids, there’s a part of me that empathizes with him more than before. Dealing with the separation is terrible, and reliving it each time we say good bye is more difficult than I can explain. I can understand why some men wouldn’t be able to endure it. I just know for me, the love and need for the boys slightly outweighs the pain, so I do endure it for them.
But it’s not easy.