On the weekends when JT is away, I like to joke that I'm unsupervised. But it's really that I'm untethered. The daily responsibilities of being a parent, the only parent in this house, don't feel unrelenting. But they are unremitting. If I don't get it done, it won't get done. There is no hope for rescue and there is no margin for error.
So it is that my daily life is one of planned allocation of resources. It's a well-oiled machine. I work; I make suppers with leftovers for the next day's lunch; I wash a load of laundry every day, so as not to be confronted by piles of unwashed socks just when we need them the most; I do one house chore a day so as not to be overwhelmed by them all on the weekend; I get myself to the gym to ensure my strength and my sanity. I make room for fun. But I never forget that I'm it. If something happens to me, we're done.
A life lived this way is one of organized responsibilities. My days are full and the routine is comfortable, if not always comforting. When I head upstairs at the end of the day, I've been busy and I'm tired. I tuck JT into bed and then crawl into my own nest. I savor my blessings and then read my book until exhaustion engulfs me. The hours unfold into days and I'm surviving.
Then the routine stalls. Twice a month, JT leaves on Saturday morning to spend the rest of the weekend with my ex. After nearly two weeks of doing everything, I've got no child-related responsibilities. It feels odd and uncertain. On those weekends, I have the quiet (and time) to miss both my current routine and my old family life. But it's not even 48 hours and there is always something to get done. I manage because my life is all about managing. Soon enough, the familiar routine returns. Worse yet are the two weeks a year when JT is with my ex for 7 days. Those days have an ebb and flow all their own: I carefully organize projects and activities for them. In principle, I think that I should welcome the respite. In practice, I don't. It feels uncertain and irregular to me.
I'm three days into being unsupervised. I've got plans and obligations that interest me. I'm neither bored nor lonely. Still, I'm aware that these unsupervised times always feel like I've foolishly torn a bandage off of a healing wound. The wound is still sore; not in danger of gaping open, but still unexpectedly tender. This part of my life still feels hollow, like I'm waiting for something. But I don't know what I'm waiting for.