My phantom uterus is already aching

By Mir
June 29, 2005

My children have left my care for the next eleven days.

And while it is true that yesterday I warned them that if I had to listen to the “my potty is so warm and cuddly” song (punctuated throughout with shrieks of laughter) one more time I was going to chew off my own face in an effort to escape; and also true that just about an hour before they left I threatened to remove EVERY DAMN BOOK IN HERE from Chickadee’s room for (repeated) mistreatment (again) of said books, going so far as to stride self-righteously down the hall with an armload of books while she trailed behind me wailing in indignation; the house is too quiet and the days spread out before me seem empty.

Also, the kids are headed to Happy Fun No Rules Land, but I’m sure my inability to control where they are or what they’re doing or how many s’mores pop-tarts they’re scarfing down for the next eleven days is only 99.99% of my discomfort. Ahem.

There are some logical reasons to dislike it when my ex takes the kids to visit his family. They’re not nearly as easy to focus on as the illogical reasons, though. I mean, sure; I could keep trotting out the story about how my mother-in-law thought that a big bowl of mixed nuts on a coffee table when there was a 2-year-old with an anaphylactic nut allergy wandering around wasn’t a problem, because “he probably couldn’t even reach them.” (Later, as I removed Monkey from where he STOOD on the BACK of the couch, halfway up the wall, she admitted that he was a bit more mobile than she’d assumed.) It never gets old, you know, the hilarity of how she could’ve killed my son. Ha! Ha!! But I’ve tired of telling that one. It was a long time ago, you know.

And the tale of that same woman proclaiming to my preschooler daughter–who was, granted, having some behavioral issues, but most likely as a result of a debilitating and scary illness her father was experiencing–that “Daddy gets sicker when you whine like that.” That will definitely always be one of my favorites. Though I’m not sure which is more memorable: her assertion, or the look on her face when I told her that if I heard such a thing spoken to my children again, I would have a hard time welcoming her back into my home.

I prefer, now, to stick to things like how my ex’s family is comprised of very tall people. And so, for nearly ten years, I endured being asked questions about “what it’s like to be so short” even though I am, in fact, of exactly average height for a female in this country.

Or how I continued sending gifts to my niblings (that’s gender-neutral for nieces and nephews) and even cards to the ex’s mother after the divorce, but every single one went ignored because I am now dead to them. I didn’t need effusive gratitude, but an acknowledgement that the toys I’d mailed hadn’t ended up with the mail carrier’s kids would’ve been nice.

If I’m feeling really paranoid, I can even get into the evaluations of my mothering skills that will covertly be taking place. I packed the suitcases; the clothing will be judged (I’m sure this will come as a HUGE SHOCK, but I was never able to keep the kids’ socks up to the mother-in-law’s whiteness standards). If the clothing is ratty, I’m a lousy mother. If the clothing is new, it will come back ruined. If the brand is expensive, I’m wasting the ex’s hard-earned money (though I’m frugal to a fault). If the brand is cheap, I’m certainly not spending the child support on the children so what am I spending it on? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I should just relax… assume their health and safety and well-being will be fine. Hey, who’s calling me at 10:35 at night? Why, it’s my ex! Getting ready for tomorrow’s flight! And he realizes he’s lost Monkey’s EpiPen, so can he get mine, tomorrow morning? Sure thing.

Nah, no reason to worry, here….

Chickadee is tiring of the Fun Daddy routine. Monkey has been talking about going on the airplane and seeing the cousins and all the fun toys in the basement and blah blah blah blah let’s all play superheroes! Chickadee, on the other hand, had a terrible day today, fell to pieces when I arrived to pick her up from school, and spent her evening trying to pick a fight with me. When I finally said, “Look, this is NOT how I want to spend this last night with you,” she sobbed and curled up in my lap and told me she didn’t want to leave me.

And I said, “Well GOOD FOR YOU! I wouldn’t want to spend a week and a half with those bozos, either. Why dontcha just stay here with me?”

Except it came out like, “Oh, honey, you’re going to have a WONDERFUL time. You won’t have any time to miss me at all, I bet. But tell you what… if you do, you can call me any time. Okay?”

She nodded, and clung to me a minute more, and then raced off when her father knocked on the door.

I quietly gathered up all the little shards that had exploded from my heart while she’d been crying and stuck them in my back pocket.

So their things were gathered up and they clambered into his car and we said our goodbyes. The ex told me they’d call tomorrow when they get in and I told him to take good care of my babies. This elicited guffaws and rolling eyes from the backseat because WE’RE NOT BABIES, MAMAAAAAAA!

They’ll be fine. I just wish they were being fine HERE, with me. Where they belong. Where pop-tarts must be filled with fruit and there are rules and bedtimes and did I mention, me? Yes? Well then.

They’ll be fine. Feel free to remind me of that. Often.


  1. Bob

    Okay –

    They will be fine.

  2. Bob


  3. Bob

    They. Will. Be. Fine.

  4. Bob

    They will really, really be fine.

  5. Bob

    Okay – last time.

    They will be fine.

    Nuff said?

  6. Steph

    They will be fine and you will be too! :-)

  7. ben

    I think Bob is trying to tell us something, but I’m having a hard time figuring it out.

    Bob, don’t be so obscure! It’s like reading Dennis Miller or something.

    Oh, and Happy Fun No Rules Land? Will just make them miss mamma that much more. Seriously. One can only have so many pop-tarts, cokes, chocolate frosted sugar bombs, late bedtimes, etc before Stalag 13 starts sounding warm and cozy.

    With any luck, Chickadee will “borrow” his credit card and call you from the plane.

  8. Jenl

    I’m here to tell you that we’ve been there done that down to every logical and illogical reason to worry.

    My kids were fine.

    I, however, paced the house like a raging caged lioness trying to decide what I would do since I could do *anything* my heart desired without worrying about a sitter or scheduling or logistics…and ended up just pacing.

    Get out there and have some great Mir time and TRY very very hard not to worry. This is a window of opportunity to refresh and restore for you. TAKE IT WOMAN. ;-)

  9. Peek

    Okay, your account of Chickadee reduced me to tears…… but even though she was upset about leaving you I’m sure she will have fun when she gets there. I think alot of the time it’s just the thought of having to leave that makes them so anxious.

    It’s so ironic isn’t it? When the kids are around we just want to get rid of them to have a little peace and when we finally DO get rid of them we hate how quiet everything is. Maybe you could use this time for you but also get some stuff done around the house that you can’t squeeze in when the kids are there. You can even listen to the music you like and crank the stereo while being productive.

    Enjoy your time and I’m sending you a cyber hug ((((((((HUG))))))

  10. Maryanne

    My crew is leaving on Saturday. I’ve been looking forward to this for months. Last night I spent an hour crying. Go figure! What fun it is being a mother! The thing that often impresses me is that I always feel a bit empty when the brood leaves. Its a little ache in your heart that stays there until they get back. I know they’ll be fine, the question is….will we?

  11. Katie


  12. dad

    You’re right! Just relax.

    Breathe deeply.


    Renew yourself for the onslaught when they return.

  13. laura

    You’re singing my song, sister. Crazy-ass former in-laws. Personally, I spend all the child support money on shoes and liquor.

  14. Lori

    Oh sweetie … HUGS

  15. Jigger

    I feel the same way when I send my child off to my mother-in-law who smokes like a mexican 18-wheeler and thinks that all the world’s problems would be fixed if we all just ate more . . . I think my poor kid comes back weighing 12 pounds more than when she left. BUT, that said, she always comes back okay. AND, it always makes me feel better that it only takes a couple of days to erase the crap my mom-in-law tries to endoctrinate her with (why aren’t you going to church- God doesn’t like little girls who don’t go to church). Use the next few days as an opportunity to do things JUST FOR YOU! A massage makes even the brokenest heart feel better. =)

  16. Karen

    Well, I must say, they will be back fine. With my son, out-laws didn’t see him much at all, ex, didn’t bother to call either. So he grew up feeling he had done something wrong. No matter how much you tell them it isn’t them, they don’t believe. Take a deep breath, try to have some fun.

  17. Shiz

    You need bonbons.

    It’s all gonna be okay.

    Go to Target for some bonbons. Or Godiva. Go to Godiva.

  18. holley

    Oh lord, I can’t get a divorce now, the in-laws are the only family I like! I hear your pain, though. They will be fine! And definitely get you some Target time.

  19. Snow

    B’s vacation with his dad last year is what made me take knitting up again. I had to do something or go utterly mad with anxiety.

    Your in-laws sound terrifying like mine. There are more whackadoos than I realized in this world.

    Good luck.

  20. Cindy

    The kiddies will have fun playing with the crazy-makers in Happy Fun No Rules Land. You will miss them but the time will FLY by! Force yourself to enjoy Mir sans kiddies for a few short days. Do everything you don’t get to do when you are being a mom. Well, maybe not EVERYTHING. Oh what the hell, do EVERYTHING mom’s don’t get to do. Surely, someone will bail you outta jail before the kids get home. Have fun!!!

  21. Carmen

    Spend one solid hour doing all the worrying that you possibly can – and, may I say, as the mother of a nut ana kid that would be a LOT of worrying – and then let it go.

    Get thee to Target and spend your ex’s money on trashy books and junk foods. Buy all the stuff you won’t when the kids are home. Sleep late, take long baths, play the music really loud and dance naked. Only if you want. Eat ice cream for breakfast and dinner.
    Watch R rated movies without worrying about little ears.

  22. Suzanne

    I’ll remind you if you remind me!
    mine is in Belgium for the 5th week. I’ve got two more to go, and it’s sooooooo hard!

  23. Dawn

    When I read the line about the lost epi-pen, I had to laugh. Not because a lost epi-pen is funny, but because that epic level of incompetence is just so familiar.

    You will be fine. They will be fine.

    Remember, you are your kids’ “normal.” Even if they don’t recognize what whackadoos the out-laws are now, they will soon enough. And they will still be fine!

    And I don’t spend the child support on shoes. No, ma’am! That would be too … responsible. It’s all booze, all the time. Yeah. Booze and drugs, that’s what it is. All the things the kids need just sort of buy themselves.

  24. chris


    I hope you get to enjoy yourself a little bit while they are on vacation.

  25. Penny

    They will be fine. Edy’s mocha chip…. yum. feel vindicated that Monkey and Chickadee are probably testing your ex’s limits and he, being a part-time parent, is probably losing his mind. HUGZ >:DThey will be fine. Edy’s mocha chip…. yum. feel vindicated that Monkey and Chickadee are probably testing your ex’s limits and he, being a part-time parent, is probably losing his mind. HUGZ >:D

  26. Kim

    It gets easier. I’ve been divorced for six years now and my kids spend the month of July with their dad. I finally decided that they’ll be fine because I’ve raised them to be good people with more common sense than any member of the ex’s family. After a while, they learned to hold their own – and my cell phone number just in case. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for.

    I know I’ve said in my head what you did, but I too manage to encourage them to spend time with the losers – uh I mean their dad and his family. Enjoy your grown up time.

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest