I don't get to wake up and see Hector's face anymore. I don't get to smell his morning breath, or make egg and potato tacos for the fifth time in a week. I don't get up and make Nescafé.
Instead, I get up before the sun and I shower and get ready for work. I leave before the sun is up, and that is my morning. I go to work all day, and break my back. I try to have lunch with my coworkers, but I have to take a break and try to get a hold of Hector either via his Telcel or Magic Jack phone numbers. Those 30 minutes go by way to fast before I have to be back out on the floor, breaking my back apart to do rounds. 2:30 doesn't come soon enough and I rush back to my neighborhood to pick Cecilia up from school at 3:00. Then we come home and it's hopefully homework and a snack. I am so exhausted from work and waking up early that I need to collapse for awhile. Usually I don't get a second wind. My body aches from being overweight and out of shape, but I try to get up and maybe clean or cook something edible for the kids. I will admit they watch WAY too much television, but I am too tired to even try to engage them. After food is eaten, we try to get on Skype to talk to Hector, if Skype or the webcams on either side are working. Sometimes we have to type what we want to say, and sometimes Skype freezes the whole computer. Around 8:30 we have to say our goodnights, so that we have time to say our prayers. As soon as my head hits the pillow, I die and I get ready to do it all again the next day.
This is not how I imagined marriage. Lately, between work, kids, and extracurriculars, I feel as if I am having to pencil in time to see Hector. I hate that shit. I hate being able to have someone around to ask for help from. "Can you watch the kids while I try to rest a little?" I usually cannot ask my mom or dad to do that since they are also busy with their own lives. Sometimes I am so tired, that my kids have cereal for dinner. It's hard not having the help, it's hard not having someone on my side, and it's hard not having someone to just talk to when I feel so frustrated with potty training that I'm in tears. My marriage to him has been more apart than together. All of this time I have remained loyal, but it has been difficult to want to work things out, when walking away from an argument is much easier (a click of the mouse!).
And Hector hates it more than I do. In three years, he's missed:
- Isaias' first birthday
- Isaias' second birthday
- Isaias' third birthday
- Isaias' first word
- Isaias' first steps
- Isaias' first teeth
- Isaias' first summer
- Cecilia's 5th birthday
- Cecilia's first day of kindergarten
- Cecilia's first day of 1st grade
- Cecilia's first day of 2nd grade
- Cecilia's 6th birthday
- Cecilia's 7th birthday
- Cecilia Bridging from Daisies to Brownies
- Cecilia learning soccer
- A trip to Seattle
- Our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th wedding anniversaries
- My 23rd, 24th, and 25th birthdays
- Holidays, including Halloweens and Christmases
He's missed our whole lives. Our son might actually believe his dad is a computer screen. Cecilia regularly tells him that she hasn't been okay since he left. He feels abandoned and ignored when I am busy running from one place to another, rushing Cecilia from after school soccer to Girl Scouts. Five minutes of Skype to say "I love you" isn't adequate for any marriage, let alone a long-distance/forced separation marriage. Arguments about balance and time are common, if not daily, occurrences. I don't blame Hector for being upset. I would be upset and hurt if I were in his shoes. I would want, no DEMAND time with my kids. But how can they spend time with a screen? They get bored and want to do their own thing, and that is another blow to him. It's so painful to watch your best friend and soul mate ache for his children, and just sit there and do nothing about it, because we're waiting for the end of the school year. The physical contact and intimacy that is so needed for quality of life, isn't there.
It's so hard to be a single mom, especially when you're not really a single mom. It's hard to be Mom and Dad, but also make time to be a married woman, too, and remember that Dad is still in the picture, but also not. It's hard to remember to include Hector's wishes and ideas into our lives, because he is not here participating in our lives.