Years ago my toddler son used to sleep at the front door of the apartment I had moved out of to try and give the family space as I came out.
The phone picture from my ex at the time sent tears down my face as I felt what he was doing.  I spent two nights a week with them, sometimes by rote, other times engaged in a difficult and traumatic time in our lives. Some weekends felt forced and unnatural. While maintaining contact with the kids was paramount, trying to be on speaking terms with my ex was painful, let alone just trying to breathe for myself.
Beau moved from the doorway and into a world where he and his brother would ride the rollercoaster of emotions seeing daddy and then going days without. The gold medal should go to their mother. She picked up her life and brought the boys into work for lunchtime dates, organised shows for us to go to and kept herself from falling apart.
There were some wonderful times in that first year: watching our second son walk his wobbly first steps, seeing our eldest put his arm over his baby brother and kiss him on the forehead and my ex and I navigating our lives to be of mutual benefit, love and value to the little family we had created.
Beau, the oldest, was sadly aware of my visiting routine. By Sunday evenings he was quiet, withdrawn and sad, often bursting into tears for no reason. Chicky, who hadn’t caught up to those feelings then, is nowadays withdrawn and cranky on those last hours of the weekend.
Last night, I tucked the boys into bed, rubbed noses and pretended to sniff them like a dog, which they love. I walked downstairs to say goodnight to their mother before going home.
I was unaware of the little blond boy at his window looking out to see me get into my car to leave. He’d already said his -˜good nights and I love you’s’ several times as I descended the stairs.
He has made some peace in his head and his heart and is happy enough to drift off to sleep knowing I go home, and he and his little brother will wait another four days for me to return.
I’m yet to make that kind of peace.

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