By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT
Lucas has a terrible scrape on his nose and lip. Apparently, when they were going to the beach he tripped on a towel and fell face first because his hands were wrapped in the towel. Every time I looked at him, my insides would squeeze together the way we try to squeeze too many clothes into a suitcase so we won’t have to take another one with us.
It is not the first time he has gotten a scrape; he gets scrapes on his knees almost every day (sometimes I think he even tries to get scrapes so he can get the attention and a band-aid). I also have seen much worse than this scrape; I’ve held my daughter down so she wouldn’t struggle too much while the surgeon cut off a growth on her belly only an inch from my face – I don’t get queasy. This was something else.
After thinking about it, I realized that every time I looked at his beautiful face and saw that scrape, I was reminded how peripheral I am becoming in my Okapis’ lives. Even though they have just started camp and that is a big change for them and my wife, I am not a part of their going to camp experience because I work – nothing has changed for me – I still spend every day without them. This means I can’t help them as much I would like when it comes to adjusting to camp. My wife calls me after she leaves them there in the morning having had to leave while they were screaming, holding onto her, refusing to let go and all I can do is tell her she is doing the best thing for them, that their crying is not a sign of her doing something wrong, but a sign that she has done so many things right for the past 3.5 years. But I have to tell her this over the phone, instead of being able to give her a hug and kiss and holding her.
This is just the beginning. More and more of my Okapis’ lives and what they experience will happen without me and this terrible scrape on my little boy’s face reminds me that less and less of their lives revolves around us, around me. They will spend more time at camp than they do with me each day. They will spend more time with strangers than I will and that kills me. It was one thing when they spent more time with my wife than with me, but with strangers? That really hurts.
My boy’s scrape will heal before we know it, but it has triggered a wound within me that seems like it will only grow worse every year. We are no longer the end all and be all for our Okapis. I know it only means we are entering a very new and different and probably exciting phase. I am sure I will enjoy all of the new experiences that come along with it.
But I really loved the old phase and I already feel myself missing it.