“Mama, why aren’t you looking for a boyfriend?” Noah asked me this loaded question the other day over breakfast.
“Do you want me to look for a boyfriend?” I’d held my breath hoping he’d say no.
“No, but since papa has a girlfriend…”
“And we should be happy for papa. But that doesn’t mean I have to have a boyfriend. But if I find one somewhere I’ll tell you, okay?”
He nodded, satisfied, and said, “Okay. If you find one I want to know everything about him. And I hope he’s really nice to you and never yells at you and he has a car.”
I laughed, and cried inside, at how very grown up Noah sounded.
That was a few days ago…
Noah lives with me for three days, and then goes to his father’s for three days, and then he’s back with me for three days, and so the schedule goes. Because, you see, we don’t have the usual custody schedule. We don’t split things week-to-week, because Noah was very clear from the beginning that a week without either parent would be too long for him to endure.
In the end we all settled on a rotation of three days at a time, and so it has been for the better part of a year. Maybe it will change at some point, and maybe it won’t. But Noah and I have calendars up on the wall for him to follow, because he’s always gotta be in the know about everything. I have no idea where he gets that from.
Blue circles mean mama and red circles mean papa. Everything is fair and square in circles for Noah.
But we all know not everything in life is fair, right? I had a particularly rough morning this morning, and I was reminded at every turn that I am still a foreigner here despite my Belgian citizenship. But this afternoon my spirits were lifted when I picked Noah up from school. Three days had passed and it was now my time with him again.
On the walk home we chatted about everything under the sun like usual, laughing and poking fun at each other until Noah got serious. “I have to tell you something, mama. Papa’s girlfriend called me sweetheart this weekend, and then she kissed me on the top of my head.” He looked up at me pensively but I could tell he was relieved to have gotten it off his chest.
I popped a squat and got eye-level with him. “Well, that means she really likes you. So it’s normal that she wants to show that to you. Didn’t you like it?”
He looked me right in the eye. “I did, mama.”
“Well then that’s good! And I know you like her too. So you should show her if you want to. It’s very important that you and she get along. That makes me very happy.”
Noah smiled and threw himself into my arms so hard that I almost fell flat on my ass. We hugged it out…right in the middle of the parking lot. And I let out a huge sigh of relief that I could say those words to him, and mean them.
I’ve learned a lot about myself over the years, and particularly over the last year. Everything else seems to matter less than the bond I have with Noah. And I know better now how to have a shitty morning but not let it ruin my day so I can get to the part of the night where I tuck Noah into bed and come here…