Better Things

In the car tonight, taking Mac Stacey to basketball practice, out of the blue, he said, “Mama, do you ever think that things would just be better if Charles was here? Like, when last night you got upset with me and took my phone…times like that…do you ever wish you could just talk to him about whatever was going on and it would be better?”

If ever there was an Ugly Real moment in the second year of living with Daddy leaving us on purpose, this was it.

I felt sick to my stomach and tears jumped into my eyes, and I wanted to punch the glass out of my car window.

But Mac asked the question, and he expected an answer.

So I did.

I said, “Yes. All the time. Every day.”

If he only knew.

But because Mac asked the question, I couldn’t leave my answer with something that just made him know his mama felt like he did. Because he’s my child, I felt like I had to punctuate the truthful answer with something that didn’t make him feel as empty as it made me feel.

We owe our kids at least that much.

So I told him about Nana and how I still felt like she could make things better when I was sad or upset or confused if she was here. And I told him that, even though I miss her all the time, ALL the time, I know exactly what she would say to me if she had lived in his world of cell phones and the like, and I had called her, upset because my mama took mine away and I was feeling conflicted. I know EXACTLY what she would say.

She would tell me that I needed to respect and mind my mama, and that I deserved to have my phone taken away….but then she would remind me that it wasn’t the end of the world and I would probably get it back the next day if I apologized sincerely and acted like the kid she knew I was…a kid who was good and kind with a big heart who was mighty special. And she would end with a big, “I love you, and I’m here if you need me.”

So, I said as much to Mac.

I told him that he knew EXACTLY what Charles would say to him, because he is so deep in his heart and he knows him so dang well, and he knows exactly how Charles feels about him, and even though I know he wants to call him or have him come over so he can hear with his real, Earthly ears, what a mean mama Charles’ daughter is, feel his Earthly arms around his body, and physically hear him whisper into his ear, “It’s gonna be ok, buddy. I promise. It’s gonna be ok…..and if she takes it for too long, l’ll get you another one.😉”

I know that’s what he wants. I know that’s what he needs.

And whether he knows it or not, it isn’t just because he knows Charles really would go get him a new phone.

He wants to feel like someone is on his team when it seems like everyone else is against him.

And Charles was solidly on Team Mac, wearing the t-shirt, waving the flag.

And THAT is what Mac wants.

And I know, because it is what I want. It is what I beg for, plead for, wish for, hope to dream about.

I want my daddy. I want him to tell me he’s here for me and he’s gonna always be here for me and even if it doesn’t turn out ok, he’s still here for me, which makes everything better, every time, all the time.

It always did. All my life.

It still would.

Do I realize that Charles was Mac’s “person?”

I do.

Does Mac realize that Charles was my person, too?

He does not.

And that’s ok. He doesn’t need to know. I think somewhere inside he’s just grateful he HAD a person, but man, he misses his person in so many different ways that I literally felt privileged to know he was missing his person in that moment…because it isn’t something he talks about.

It isn’t something I talk about either.

Because, for me, the missing can’t exist without comprehending WHY I miss him.

That damn ole brain of mine just gets in the way.

I know Mac knows, too, but I hope he doesn’t dwell on it as much as I do.

Daddy’s leaving on purpose, for me, cancels out so much of the missing. It puts his love in arrears. It makes “what he always did that we can’t experience now” a negative.

Because he stole it. He yanked it away, and we don’t have him anymore and can’t experience him again because he did it because he chose to deprive us of it.

And it is so mean that I often can’t bear it.

But I can still offer Mac the hope of just the missing.

Just the missing.

The missing is enough, and that is all that a 10-year-old should have to endure.

So I can pretend as I answer his questions in the truest, most honest way I can. I can do that because I DO feel that way about my Nana, because I just flat miss my Nana. I don’t have to untangle her leaving. It was medical. It wasn’t her fault. She didn’t want to leave me. I know that.


I wish I could say the same about my daddy.

And I wish Mac didn’t have to ask the question, because his Charles should have been here to talk to him about why I took his phone, to scold him a little, and to reassure him a lot.

But he isn’t.

On purpose.

But the one thing I can be grateful for in this situation is that Mac asked the question….and that I’m still here to provide him some kind of answer.

Not the perfect answer. Not an answer that is gonna give him what he deeply wants and what he deeply deserves.

But an answer.

From his mama.

Who loves him.

Who would never, ever, never, ever, ever leave him on purpose.

Because Mamas don’t do that.

Daddies shouldn’t either.

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