Having a quiet evening at home, after a day of catching up on chores that I let slide while the kiddos were here. Pups are curled up beside me on the couch, snoring. Candles flicker on the mantel. Classical music is playing softly. The quiet is both a balm, and bittersweet.

I’ve been separated from my ex for four and a half years, and we knew it was over before that. Sharing the kids is nothing new… but even so, coming off a whole week together, I miss them. Not the whining, the arguing and rolled eyes. Not the dulcet tones of Fortnite battles and complaints about having to pick up after themselves.

I miss the early morning snuggles with Miriam when it’s just dawn and we both half-wake up but then cuddle closer and drift off again. I miss hearing her sing to herself while she draws. I miss hearing the conversations between her toys when she plays with the dollhouse. I miss when she reads me a book before bed. I miss Tai’s shouts of triumph and despair when he plays video games with his friends. I miss his boundless energy that fills the house. I miss when he asks me to tuck him in and sit with him until he falls asleep. I miss those minutes when he decides to tell me about how his games were, about what he’s doing at school, bits of randomness until he drops off to sleep. 

Even as I miss them, I relish this time alone, too. I relax into the stillness, take time to read, to write, to think a complete thought without someone asking for a snack, a drink, something to do because “I’m bored!”.  I go to Target and take as long as I want with no one whining that can’t we just gooooo already??  I stay up late watching Netflix and knitting, or falling down a YouTube rabbit hole. I remember what it is to be a woman on her own.