I was reading a tweet by @lolaaugustine that hit a home I hadn’t revisited in a long time. She mentioned in her tweet that “happy families (with dads) make me sad sometime.
I was there. Those few words brought back floods of memories. Every piece of my being knew EXACTLY what she meant and EXACTLY what she felt.
I was young. Idealistic.
I assumed that all couples with kids did those happy family things.
I mean, all my friends were doing it.
It seemed like EVERYONE, except for me, was involved with all things happy and family.
I pictured going to the park with my husband, swinging between us our young son who held on to our fingers, squealing with delight, begging for “more” or “higher” while pushing a stroller with our infant daughter cooing out giggles.
I pictured hugs in the kitchen with children squeezing between us, wanting to be a part of the moment.
Family trips, car rides with rounds of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Row, Row Row Your Boat as we explored back roads and tourist traps.
The way I grew up.
The way I expected life to be for and with my children.
None of that happened in my first marriage.
Instead of the park, I sat on the couch in a fog as my children played with friends and my husband sat on his computer, losing our life savings as he pretended to be a day trader.
Instead of hugs, harsh words spewed from a frustrated heart.
Alone in a king sized bed, I slept balanced precariously at the very edge. Sometimes banging my head against the sharp corner of my nightstand. Sometimes falling onto the soft carpet below.
Exactly how I lived my life back then. Barely hanging on. Teetering precariously into my own oblivion.
When I left that lonely life, I thought I would feel a sense of relief.
I could go to the park without longing for what I didn’t have.
I could take trips with my kids and not long for what I didn’t have. Instead, I could give them what THEY had never had.
I didn’t have to worry about banging my head on the corner of my nightstand or falling out of bed anymore.
I thought I was good to go.
But, I was wrong.
Something more was missing.
I would sit on park benches daydreaming, unenthusiastic and preoccupied, while my children laughed and played with all the children. Their smiles and waves met by my forced ones.
I would ache for the other piece of bread to the child sandwich as I was cooking their meals in my kitchen, alone.
Slowly, surely, I got used to my new norm. I still had a sense of longing for things I didn’t have but that ache began to dull. It wasn’t constant. It was beginning to be easy to ignore and carry on.
I began to enjoy sleeping in the middle of the bed, sprawled out in all my glory. My nightstand was my friend again, home to my clock, photos and dog eared books.
Instead of the bread being the mom and dad, my children would hug me and I was squished between their warmth and enveloped by their unconditional love.
I started smiling more and breaking into La Vida Loca or one of my favorite Duran Duran songs.
I realized I was happy again.
The one emotion I had been void of, above anything.
Pure, unadulterated, happiness.
The shock of that realization hit me.
I wasn’t missing a someone.
I had been lacking a something.
Laughing until my sides and my heart burst.
I found all of that again.
Now, I’m 12 years after.
I’ve been with my other slice for 10 years.
My sandwich is overstuffed.
So Lola, it does happen. It really does. Be patient. Embrace being the heart of the sandwich.