Today is my very first night being a mother without my kids.

Okay, so it’s not my FIRST night. I go out. Sometimes. I’ve been away with work the odd night and with friends the odd weekend – the latter perhaps three times, and only once in the lifetime of the smallest small.

But now I will be away from them every other weekend and a night in the week, at least. And it is hurting, very, very badly.

I feel like someone has hollowed out my heart and womb with a melon scoop, and I can feel the scrape of every curl of flesh that’s been removed.

The void inside me is reflected in the empty beds upstairs.

And I cannot bear to look.

To catch you up, Dadonthenetheredge is now officially DadOFFthenetheredge.

As we all know, small children are pretty hard on relationships.

For my part, perhaps it would have been better if I HAD been away a bit more often. If I hadn’t fallen so hard and fast for them that they became my everything…

But I have found the process of parenting, particularly after pregnancy loss, all-consuming.

Trying to manage, trying to cope, trying to get through – has been all I’ve been able to do. All I’ve known how to do. And it has been up to me to manage. I have been the primary carer; him the primary bread winner – often working away. I have had to LEARN to cope – and to do it on my own.

Perhaps I have learned too well.

My life changed drastically with the onset of children. His didn’t. I threw myself into my new world and found meaning and validation there. He threw himself into his world and found the same.

Looking up, we have found we are actually in very different places.

And the place we occupy together is not a nice one.

It is a mess. Made up of his ambition; my anxiety.
His drive; my depression.
His lack of empathy; my lack of attention.

And of course the normal underappreciation on both sides, lack of communication, resentments building, misunderstandings simmering – and the endless tiredness competition in which most parents are engaged.

BOOM. There you have it.

Had it.

The fact is that we are both better versions of ourselves when we are not together.

And when we are together, we are not showing our girls what a relationship ought to look like. We are showing them something ugly. And that can’t go on.

I am not worried about going it alone with the kids – practically and emotionally I’ve been doing that for some time.

But I’m afraid going it alone WITHOUT them feels very much like heart is being sucked out through my c-section scar, leaving a throbbing vacuum in my chest.

I don’t know how to fill it.

I don’t remember what was there before. I don’t even remember who I was before I had them. And I’m not sure I want to.

Oh, I am sure eventually having some space for self-care will be good for me.

I’m sure having my 8th lie in in 6 years will be good for me.

I’m sure building a life outside of them will be good for me – and ultimately for them.

But tonight, it doesn’t feel like it.

Tonight, I feel like I am breaking apart.

My hands are itching to touch them. My ears are roaring with their silence. I do not think I am capable of going upstairs and going through the motions of going to bed like it is a normal night. I don’t know if I will ever find a normal again.

Tonight, I am going to wallow.

I am going to let myself fill up with this heavy, jagged sadness – because it is better than nothing.

I am going to mourn the loss of my family – a vision which I’ve worked so very hard to achieve – but which never seemed to quite materialise with us as a foursome.

Tonight I’m going to miss my babies.

I’m going to contemplate the sheer insanity that is loving someone so much it feels like it is fighting to burst from your skin, and you have to grit your teeth, clench your fists and hold your breath against its force.
I’m going to wonder at the the utter madness that is loving someone so completely and so fiercely when they will inevitably, every day, grow further and further away from you.
When they will – by design – love you less and less. When they will be a little less yours with every passing moment – like mine are tonight. When they will eventually leave you forever.

I mean, who the FECK decided this would be a thing???

And why in God’s name did I sign up for it?

Tonight, I am going to cry big, face-contorting, grotesque tears.

I am going to howl at the Nether Edge moon about injustice, unfairness, and loneliness.

And then I’m going to plan how to show none of this to them when they come back to me.

I’m going to plan something wonderful for us to do together that will bind us with memories, and create us a family that just looks just a little bit different to the one I always dreamed of.

And whether you are with or without your children tonight, I’m going to suggest you do the same.