Tonight, I reluctantly walked along the wet streets of Manchester towards the train station. I didn’t want to go home.
As much as I love my job, it’s not somewhere I choose to settle for too long after work hours, because I’ve always got someone to go home to.
One part of the path we chose was knowing that we’d have to, sometimes, be apart from our son.
I’m fortunate that, financially, I can just about manage this mortgage and the things that William needs, but that doesn’t leave me much money for anything else. But I feel rich, regardless. Because I have my son.
I hate that his father can’t say the same. Despite the split being the right decision for us, I can’t actually come to terms with how hard it must be not to wake up to that fluffy blonde-head and that goofy smile.
But I’ll have to experience that tomorrow morning.
William has gone for what I expect will be a lovely trip to see his grandparents with his dad. It’s not even like they are down the road. My baby is over two hours away from me and will be for the longest time we’ve ever been apart.
I won’t see him again until Sunday afternoon.
And I get that horrible dull ache in my chest when I think about it.
We’ve been apart before, when I’ve been away with work, or once for fun, but I was busy, distracted by people, work, events. But the reality has hit me this time around. This will be a regular thing, when we are settled. And it makes me feel almost like a part-time mother.
I sat on the train, trying to hold my bottom lip straight, and not thinking about the empty house, void of toddler laughter and tiny pieces of neon-coloured plastic left out to severely maim me. I didn’t want to go back to a house that didn’t have that.
But I seem to have a few people looking out for me.
My dad collected me from the station and took me home with a takeaway for one. He told me to relax and enjoy the me-time while I had it. My mood lifted a little. At least I didn’t have to cook and I could dance around my bedroom, pretending to be Tina Arena and belting out ‘Chains’ (true story – don’t judge).
As we pulled into my driveway I frowned. My house looked different… Were those? Yes! Blinds in my front window. New blinds donated by my neighbour, made to fit our matching windows, and put up by my mum and gramps.
My house smelt like fresh washing – because there was fresh washing hanging. Done by my grandma I expect.
My hideous, hideous bathroom had been stripped, ready for a fresh lick of paint and a vinyl floor. Small touches that will make a huge difference now I can’t afford to rip the whole thing out.
My bed was made properly, missed this morning due to a nursery/work dash and me relishing my last few minutes with my little guy before I said goodbye.
It was, as often with my family, like the story of the Elves and the Shoemaker. Little touches that made me feel less lonely, and less sad. And I’m so lucky that they were aware enough to know that tonight was going to be hard for me.
I enjoyed my evening. I reckon I could give Tina Arena a run for her money and I have beautiful orange nails, which I’m hoping will tempt Spring out of its hiding place, or at least encourage the last of the wintery sun to shine tomorrow.
I walked into his room just now and looked at his empty cot. A lump rose to my throat and I missed reaching down to smooth back his fuzzy hair from his face.
But at least he’ll be coming back to me. And I have to be thankful that, no matter where he is, he’s loved.
As for me?
Well maybe me-time is something I need to get used to. But one thing’s for certain, I’m going to try and enjoy the next few days. Even if they are spent in pyjamas, or talking to friends about nothing eventful at all, but just enjoying it anyway.
Because you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, do you?
That said, God I miss you William.