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I don’t think this is quite the right title for this post, but I’m struggling with how to express myself this time.

I am lonely for my daughter.

I am not generally lonely. I have a wonderful fiance. My niece is a great roommate. Thunder Cat is a good snuggle companion.  I have friends (if I ever reached out to them). But the loneliness of a parent for a child is a unique animal.  And the sense of missing a family unit is sometimes quite poignant – another kind of loneliness.

I have always been the one in the family who worked.  My ex was always the stay-at-home parent, even when I didn’t want it to be that way.  I missed a lot of Kelsea’s day-to-day growing up. I tried to make up for it by spending as much time as I could with her when I wasn’t working – except for the solo vacations to try to save my own sanity.

Now Kelsea is a teenager. We are going through the to-be-expected separation period. She spends most of her time with her friends. We still  have some small time together, but she stays at her Dad’s most of the time, because he’s closer to school, and getting her there doesn’t work very well with my getting to work. Some people say I should push to have her stay with me more, but that’s just not how we operate. We talk and text every day. She will be driving in a few months, and is so looking forward the her freedom. I remember that from my own teenage years.

But I miss the kid stuff. I miss our dedicated play time together. I miss our “famous chats” and our reading and snuggles and watching trashy TV and talking about anything and everything. I guess this separateion from the parent is a normal thing – just what happens when teenagers grow up. It must be preparing everyone for that day when they leave home and forge their own life, the one that you as a parent have been readying them for since the moment they were born.

Once you are divorced, and one parent is not with the child as much any more, the sense of a family unit dissipates like a wisp of fog. Gone also are those dreams you had, of being the proud parents seeing your child off to various milestone events, or attending school plays hand-in-hand. I am wise enough to realize that those visions, like many others I had, were more fantasy than lost reality – I know that by looking at the reality of my life within my marriage for almost 20 years.

Maybe I miss dreams that I never had a chance of fulfilling. Then again, I was always trying to fulfill those dreams on my own, even in my marriage, and not as part of a team. My ex and I, in hindsight, were never a team, never partners. That feels sad.

The tragic events that have happened recently in Colorado have made me all the more sensitive about how precious my daughter is, and how quickly someone dearer to you than the moon can be snatched away forever. In the blink of an eye.

I know Kelsea misses me sometimes. I know I miss her often. I know she sees the texts and Facebook messages I send her daily, even if she doesn’t respond, so she knows that I’m thinking of her always. We still have our mother-daughter traditions (she loves traditions) and we still carve out time for special things. But the days of being her best playmate, of her sitting on my foot and clutching my leg when I had to leave the house, those days are gone. And I miss them.

I loved spending what time I could with her in her childhood. It was like having my own childhood all over again.

I guess we all have to grow up. Eventually.

Kelsea with the whole world before her.

When Kelsea was little-little, she was afraid of thunderstorms.  Many grateful kudos to her Aunt, who finally said something that clicked in her little brain and enabled her to overcome her fear.  It hasn’t been a problem since she was small.

But the other night, a huge clap of thunder woke me out of a sound sleep.  It had been clear that evening and the rain was unexpected.  I lay there, wondering if I should check on Kelsea, just to be sure it hadn’t woken her, but I heard nothing from her room, and so I was drifting off, closer to asleep than awake, when I sensed it.  Yes, it was her little spectral presence by my bed. (This is how she wakes me; she just comes and stands silently by my sleeping form until I sense her.  It never fails.) 

The thunder had indeed woken her, and she asked if she could crawl in with me.  Of course, I made room for her.  We were snuggled up when a bolt of lightning hit in the field beside the cottage – so close that the flash and the crack of thunder came at exactly the same second, sharp and loud.  We both jerked like we’d been shocked.  And cuddled closer.  I came as close as I ever have to being struck when we were at Topsail this past summer, and so I was having a little PTSD myself.  It was nice to have her there.

We lay there, wide awake, waiting for the next shoe to drop, so to speak.  A few more flashes, a random rumble, and the storm moved on.  I fell asleep again, rolling over to find that Kelsea had gone back to her own bed.

But it was so sweet and comforting – and a bit of a flashback to her toddler-hood – to cuddle the storm away with my teenage daughter.

June 2020
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