Taylor was having a conversation today with a bunny of his - one of the many stuffed animals that he fathers - and the bunny was expressing its angst for having to leave him for the week and yearning to come back on Friday (obviously the best day of the week for me and Taylor). The line that most stuck out to me came with a shoulder shrug of visitation fatigue, "Well, that's life. We can't do anything about it. That's life."
The tone of defeat in his assertation must have made me visibly sad because he asked me what was wrong. I told him that his relationship with the bunny reminds me of my relationship with him - of course - and he shared with me the most brilliant response I couldn't have ever imagined:
"Papi, don't worry. We get to see each other three days out of the week." He said, raising three fingers. "AND we get to see each other every single morning now before school! Isn't that amazing?"
What was I to do? Had all of my hard work of reframing our separation during his tantrums just paid off? Is it bad that our separate living situation is being normalized or is it just that our current situation is so much better that even he can articulate it? Is he just mimicking my motivational crap and are we invalidating each other's feelings when we do this? What is the correct way to engage with our separation?
Part of the way I've always understood our relationship is through the seed planting metaphor. I was lucky to be able to spend time with him as an infant even though our living situation wasn't ideal and always understood it as planting important seeds for our future. I'm in a period of unemployment as I share this story and it has been fantastic in that we have been able to attend to our garden, clean up shop, and plant new seeds. And today, while planting new seeds, I saw a beautiful leaf rising up from the soil. A leaf from a seed that has been under our care for the past 6 years of his life. One that was waiting for us to have a better schedule. We cared for it through our scattered visitation schedule that was never enough but out of both of our control and it lived. We cared for it through an extremely hectic retail schedule, where I worked three jobs and studied as a full-time undergraduate. We cared for it through all of my relationships (personal, familial, professional, and intimate) that bid for our time and it lived. We cared for it when I went away to Philadelphia for an accelerated master's program and were lucky enough to not miss one weekend together. It lived through all of that and today, we both saw it rise up from the ground and remind us that our hard work and dedication to loving each other - especially through the most difficult of times when we had to figure out how to articulate our frustrations, be vulnerable, cry together and spend more time apart than anyone should - is for something bigger than we may ever understand.