The Falcons had it in the bag. I would come to the living room and check from time to time how the game was going. I'm no NFL fan, but I'd always watched the Super Bowl. This time I couldn't sit and watch. I was unpacking. It was the first night I'd be sleeping in my new house.
I was alone. I had left my marriage. My sons were watching the Super Bowl with their dad. They would join me the next night for their first night in this house.
I was so scared. I just remember putting one foot in front of the other, from the moment I realized I couldn't stay through the finding and getting a house, to the move, to the very moment I stood there, wondering what this new life was going to look like.
I had told my husband we could co-parent. That I didn't hate him or want to fight. I just couldn't be healthy and happy in that relationship. His response seemed to run the spectrum. Fear, fury, sadness, snark, kindness, confusion. I imagined a life where we could still celebrate birthdays and holidays together. I hoped that we could be friendly and fair.
He imagined me trying to keep his sons from him and take advantage of him financially. At least that's what he appeared to think I was going to do.
I did neither. He is a good father. Better than good. His children adore him. He should help me get on my feet, but I yearn for independence, and believed fighting over money was going to keep me reliant on him and entangled too long.
One foot in front of the other.
A birthday. Easter. A family wedding. Neighbors graduations.
Father's day. His first vacation with the boys without me. My first vacation with the boys without him. A behavior issue.
Step by step.
The first day of school. Another's birthday. The biggies: Thanksgiving and Christmas.
And finally, the last first: a January birthday.
Tonight, as the noise of the Super Bowl on television carries down the hall to my room, I am relieved.
Yesterday the youngest had a concert 40 minutes away. He had taken the bus there. His father picked me up and we sat together through the concert, the three of us riding home together.
The same child got sick in the night. I sent a text at 5 am: Boy 3 is sick, I'll need you to stay here with him or take Boy 2 to his soccer game. No problem. He would take boy 2. A perfect solution as I preferred to be the caregiver to the sick one.
This is co-parenting.
At a year's mark the kids are fine (not counting the flu). Every blue moon I check in with them, and mostly they don't want to talk about the split. It just is what it is. They don't love the "move": the task of switching from one house to the other. While I thought I stocked this house, they still move a bunch of stuff each week.
They seem to want family times to still be together, and their dad and I easily oblige. Holidays and birthdays stopped being about me the day the first one was born, anyway. If they are happy, I am as well.
There were some knee-buckling, wailing moments for me. Whether we all made it through the second night the boys were at this house was a minute to minute event. There was one morning I just broke. Before I knew it I was on my floor in a girlfriend's lap sobbing uncontrollably. It was one of what I call my few "phone a friend" moments this year. Moments that I was spiraling down and needed a second soul to throw me a rope. Though I knew I wouldn't hurt myself, I was so sad and broken that I couldn't bear the weight of it all on my own.
Then there was the day on the bridge to the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. I was coming back from Southside doing something for work. I was driving along and realized I was smiling. I was happy. Not a moment of joy, but a sustained happiness. I had a general feeling of positivity and peace and it was sticking with me. What a gift: the general feeling of happy.
Super Bowl Sunday holds a significance to me now. It's the anniversary of the start of both the worst and best year of my life.
Let's hope I don't take after those Falcons and blow it in my second half...;)