Earlier this week, my colleague, Austin, suggested I watch a film. And I’m always dubious when people suggest films to me, but he really felt I should watch it.
What Maisie Knew
He gave me a brief outline, and so, last night, Mark and I sat down, without Bill sleeping above us, and we watched this film.
And it was one of those moment where I felt like I had a little revelation.
It was like staring into an alternate future in parts. And for the first time, since my journey as a solo parent began, I realised I definitely had made the right decision, as a mother.
When you split from your other half, ultimately, as much as you consider your children, you do it for yourself. You have to take a selfish chance. Because life is too short to spend it any other way but striving for happiness.
But with that selfish choice, and that great big sigh of relief, comes guilt.
You feel as though you have robbed your child of a family.
You feel as though you tripped them up and beat them to the Happy Life finish line.
And you realise, for the first time ever, that you chose yourself. You chose yourself over your child.
And yet a simple film, managed to make me see the alternative.
And I remember looking up at Mark, with teary-eyed that held fat tears, and saying: “I did the right thing didn’t I?” And he just smiled and kissed my head.
Hours before that. I found myself sat, knees pulled up to my chest, crying in Bill’s cot bed. I was overcome with sadness as I walked past his bedroom. I wanted to hold him and smell his toddler neck and hear his little voice. And I felt so desperate.
I went downstairs and just cried, while Mark tried his best to comfort me.
And I remember saying: “I just don’t understand why I can’t keep my baby.”
It was painful.
And I wasn’t expecting it. Not like that.
I still don’t understand why I can’t see my son every day. It doesn’t seem right to me, in a child-like way. I just can’t make sense of it. It feels empty and unnatural. And my usually quick-witted mind just comes up with a question mark, time, after time.
But I learnt several things watching this film.
Firstly, we did it at the best time. Our son won’t remember the endless rows. The ones that make my cheeks flame with shame.
Secondly, I’m not alone in what has happened to my family. And I think I’m ready to stop apologising for it.
Thirdly, we’re doing a good job. Yes, I don’t love my son’s father, and he doesn’t love me. Much as people may enjoy a good feud, we are not two extras to the Corrie cast. We both love our son. Indisputable. And we may have failed at our relationship but we haven’t failed our little boy.
We could do much, much worse.
My heart, and my natural instinct will always cry out to keep my baby near.
And this won’t be the first or last time you will see me write about how it feels.
But I finally realised that I did the right thing, for us. And not just for me,
And Austin probably didn’t realise how much that suggestion would come to mean. But, embarrassingly so, I owe him, for his love of films, Netflix, and friendly soul.
And the film?
She knew all the things I’m glad my son never will.