Yesterday at the park, I was sitting around a picnic table with my mom friends while our kids got dirty in the sandbox. JD was sitting next to Dylan, 7, a regular at the park who my son completely adores—and even better, listens to. I rested my arm on the table, leaned over my friend, Kelly, and watched as Dylan dug a deep tunnel with his hands and gently crafted a bridge out of moist sand. JD squealed in delight as Dylan told him to drive his car under the bridge. His blond hair looked white in the sun. I smiled and tuned back to the “mom talk” and almost tuned out since everyone was talking about their…husbands.
"He always does this. He says he’s going to be home at 5:30 so we can all eat together, then it turns to like 6:30," L said, over a chuckle. I squinted up at the tree overhead that was shading the table. The leaves were still and spots of sun were filtering through. I had nothing to say.
"I hear ya," said Kelly. "My husband comes home late a lot. He has to hear bands perform for his job." I heard a wave of laughter coming from the sandbox, then JD yelled, "BUGGIE! COO-WOOL!" Little butts were popped in the air as the kids looked in the hole.
"Well, at least I’m not the only one waiting on Dad to get home," L said smiling at all of us.
I smirked, shook my head, laughed a breath and it came out so naturally, "For real, I’ve been waiting for JD’s dad to come home for like three years. Where the hell is he? He must be really busy at work." There was a pause, then everyone laughed. Kelly said he was probably "stuck in traffic." We laughed some more. Laughing is good. (Are you listening, single moms? You need to laugh! Laugh and smile and live!)
The conversation switched to what everyone was cooking for dinner. Ha, something else I had nothing to say about. I was picking up pizza next door. (What? It's pizza night! If they asked me the night prior, I'd be happy to report...I picked up black beans and rice from the kitchen floor while JD thought about eating his chicken and not 5000 chips with guacamole). A few of the moms got up from the table and I was left there watching JD shovel sand, his cheeks flushed with red, and I wasn’t laughing anymore at my joke. It got quiet. A breeze tickled my brow.
I was remembering coming home to my apartment in NYC, 11-weeks-pregnant, after my son’s father called me at work to say he wasn’t going to participate further. I walked into my bedroom, slumped on the bed and peered around the room. His running sneakers, one with a frayed shoelace were under my dresser. His tie was flung over my desk chair. His Economist magazines were stacked on my desk. His toothbrush was in a cup next to mine. He never came…home...(even though we didn’t officially live together—he was there every night and weekend.) I didn’t ditch his stuff for months following that call. Who knows, maybe I was waiting for him to come back, maybe, maybe. (I chronicle packing up my NYC bedroom and discovering his stuff all over again in Chapter 9 of Rattled!)
I was shook from the memory because JD was running towards me saying, "I have boogie. Need a tissue, Mommy. Mom-MEEEEEE help me!" His little, dirt-stained hands reached for me. The world lit up in color and sound again—no more black and white, volume down—just like that, back to business. Back to what matters now.
Have any of you been out and about with your kiddo—then BAM, something reminds you of your ex? For moms who are not single, ever get lost in a memory then brought back to reality with a giggle, a gummy smile or little clenched hand shaking your shirt? Please share! Happy Fourth! XO