I jumped on the trampoline with my kids last night.
Earlier in the day, we found a single jumbo glow stick. The kids had a brilliant idea to jump with the glow stick after the sun went down. It really was brilliant.
So, we waited until dusk. It was just the three of us and the soft light of our pink glow stick.
For a few minutes, all we heard was the springs of the trampoline creaking and our laughter. Giggles sprouted from us as we jumped as high as we could.
For those few minutes, I forgot about how tired I was. Single motherhood is new to me, new to my kids, and it isn’t easy. I’ve developed a new appreciation for moms who do it all on their own 24/7. I am the only person for the two of them for a full week at a time.
I am the only person doing laundry, dishes, cooking, vacuuming, reading, homework checking, grocery shopping, argument refereeing, boo-boo kissing, tucking in, relentless question answering, decision-making, and the list goes on. Come the end of my time with them, I am physically, mentally, and emotionally drained.
I hate that it drains me, because I should be better than that.
But I wasn’t thinking about that while I was jumping, while I was giggling exactly like my three-year-old daughter.
She wanted to hold my hands and jump with me. She watched my feet. I watched her hair. It fluffed out like a billowing skirt in the most mesmerizing way.
I wasn’t thinking about all of the things I had to pay for with the few dollars I had to my name. I wasn’t thinking ahead to Halloween, the family wedding I am apart of, the holidays, the sports. I wasn’t thinking about the mortgage or the loan payment or the internet bill. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that eventually, sooner rather than later, I’d have to replace the roof on my home. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that my car could really use some new tires before winter, because I can’t afford any of it.
All I was thinking about was her hair.
I sat along the side of the trampoline and watched all the “Mom, watch this,” and “Mom, look at me”. My nine-year-old son had recently perfected his back flip and couldn’t stop showing it off. My daughter, the up-and-coming gymnast, practiced her floor routine.
I watched with blissful happiness. I wasn’t sad like I usually am. I wasn’t lonely like I usually was.
Above all, I am a mother. Admittedly, I’m still trying to understand what I am when they’re gone. And while having a companion, a partner, an extra set of ears and eyes and hands around the house would be a tremendous relief and welcomed comfort, I didn’t feel any pain without it at the moment.
When I was worn out, I laid down in the middle of the trampoline and my kids took turns jumping over me. When I got my second wind, they took turns laying in the middle while I popcorned them up in the air.
There were exactly five times, not one, not two, but five times while jumping when my daughter got my attention specifically to tell me she loved me.
Those words took all the worry away. All the worry about my divorce and if I was going to make it on my own. All the worry of raising two beautifully intuitive and tender-hearted children through all of it. All the worry of paying for this and for that. All the worry of keeping my house in order. All the worry of the once immaculate landscaping that had gone to the weeds under my care.
Nothing else mattered at that moment. All that matters is them. All that matters is what the three of us are cultivating. If my circumstances have brought me anything, they’ve brought me so much closer to my kids and them closer to me.
And when we were all breathless, we fell to our backs and looked up at the stars. The last of the sunlight struck the wispy clouds, which my daughter said looked like scribbles. My son wondered where the plane flying overhead was going. We all made guesses.
I said it was going to Hawaii and the pilot was going to go surfing before his next flight.
My son said it was going to Disney World – even though I pointed out to him the plane was flying in a westerly direction.
My daughter said it was going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
Our life as a team of three may not be perfect, it can get a little messy, it might be covered in red dog hair from our favorite furry friend, but we don’t care.
It was just the three of us, on a trampoline, after dark, by the soft light of our last pink glow stick.
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Beautifully written, Jess! You have expressed what, I think, many moms experience after a divorce, especially in those first few months and years. I know that, while it was not how I planned that my life would go, I would not change the wonderful times I had with my son as he grew up and it was just the two of us. And though it can be scary and draining, those “I love you, Mom”s make it all incredibly worth it! Keep seeking out and enjoying those special moments together! You’re doing great!
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