My first time
So much happened this week I don’t even know where to start - things that have never happened before.
My eldest daughter went away on her first school camp. It’s the longest time she has ever been away from home and away from me.
She told me I wasn’t allowed to cry when I said goodbye. Now, I’m not one of 'those' mothers, but I admit I’m a little apprehensive about this whole someone-else-will-be-telling-her-to-eat-her-greens business. That’s never going to happen.
She's going to lie about cleaning her teeth and no one is even going to notice. She's going to stay up late gossiping with the other girls and no one is going to care she's not paying attention the next morning because she's only had a wink of sleep.
Meanwhile, I will be sipping martinis by the waterfront – in my head at least.
In reality, I’ll just be enjoying making one less school lunch and not having to break up fights with sibling number two. Who, I might add, is loving the idea of being an only child.
While we're on the subject of child number two, she managed to run into a cement pillar this week and all but knock herself out – another first.
I know head wounds bleed a lot, but when we got to the stage her shirt and jeans were covered with blood and her feet were slipping in her blood-filled sandals on the blood-stained floor – I started to feel a surging fear rise within me. At what point should I stop mopping it up? At what point should I panic? At what point will she collapse?
I've never been the queasy type – I've had enough jobs covering car crashes and house fires to be accustomed to the gore of blood and body parts – but it’s very different when the scene replicates a slaughter house and the victim is your child.
So for the first time, I nearly fainted. I did at least wait until we all got to the medical centre before the child and I both fell back in our seats. That’s more than a little bit embarrassing.
Just me and the children in a medical centre at night, blood everywhere, weary and slightly in shock, and no one but me to drive the car home.
When you’re a single parent you do things out of necessity. Fear, or in this case low blood pressure, will never hold you back. You find a way. You get through the week on five hours' sleep and the constant throbbing of a dull headache. You live off ten buck between the three of you. You cherish the little things – the hugs, the bedtime kisses, the tiny hand slipped into yours.
When I got home and we were all safe in our beds, I started thinking about all of the 'first time' events I’ve managed in the two years since separation.
The first time I lived on my own. The first time I felt completely independent. The first time my wage went into my own bank account.
The first time I had sex with someone other than my husband. The first time I had a boyfriend since high school. The first time I fell in love.
The first time I was able to make my own decisions about my life, my career, my future.
The first time I understood why bad things happen to good people (it’s a cliché and I hate it, but there is a reason for everything).
The first time I knew everything was going to be fine.