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When Two Become Four

I was a single mom to my son from when he was 3 up until he was 9 years old. This means that for most of my son’s life, it’s been just the two of us. My little Evan Boy and me going everywhere together. Looking out for one another. Having adventures and facing the world together. We put Will and Jaden Smith to shame and had more fun than Laverne and Shirley. Needless to say, we are extremely close with an unbreakable bond. He is my little soldier, my roll dog, my little man.

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Those years spent, just the two of us, was a special time. There was a fair amount of challenges, however. Not having my ex or any family around, I was often overwhelmed by normal parenting demands like getting through rush hour traffic after work to pick him up from the after-school program before they closed, or having him involved in sports with all the games and practices. Though I am well aware that it could have been worse, sometimes it was tough to just keep it all together, in general. And I was also still getting over my divorce and doing all the stupid things that women do before they stop punishing themselves for a failed marriage.

It was at night, when I would peer into his room and see his cherubic face sleeping that the pangs of regret from the day hit me. I shouldn’t have yelled at him for eating my Skittles. I should have sucked it up and played one more game of Scrabble with him. I should not have let him see me cry. Again! I would tell myself right then and there that I would be a better mom the next day and never take him for granted.

Though it was a time of frequent parenting missteps, it was also a time full of endless laughter, fun and precious, irreplaceable moments with my son. It was also my greatest personal growth period to date. We took spontaneous road trips, saw midnight movies, played catch at the park, had nightly dance parties, snuggled in bed telling each other stories until the early morning hours. Just the two of us. In the midst of any of these moments, Evan would give me this look—it was a visible inhale with a bright-eyed, confident smile, and it exuded pure, innocent happiness as he realized just then that I loved him with all my heart. It was as if he was taking a breath to place that moment deep inside his memory. And every time I saw it, I wanted to be a better person.

I spent 20 minutes staring at his perfect face and I started to miss what we had.

In that time with Evan, I learned so much about myself. I learned to accept who I was, where I was in life and understand just how special my son is. And I came to really value and appreciate, above all things in this world, my role as his mother.

Now I’m married. And I have a baby girl. Evan and I have expanded our family into the one we always wanted. Though we are thrilled to have this happy family, it has been somewhat of an adjustment for Evan and me from our old ways. Not only did Evan have to get used to not being the only man of the house, but he’s also now further sharing my attention with a baby who is endlessly showered with “oohs” and “aaahs.” Our house is run in a more organized fashion now. He has two adults keeping him in line, and the baby forces a fairly strict schedule.

The other night, after the baby was fast asleep, I went to Evan’s room to tuck him in. There he was, already asleep, his now 11-year-old face a little less round, but still cherubic. I clenched my chest and felt a sadness rip through me. He used to be my only one. I realized just how different life must be for my little boy, my sidekick. How could he not be feeling forgotten? I should have had an impromptu dance party with him, I shouldn’t have stayed in my room so long, I should have given him more attention today. I spent 20 minutes staring at his perfect face and I started to miss what we had.

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Though my attention is divided three ways now, I know that I must always nurture and be grateful for the bond Evan and I have. Though I may have been far from the perfect mom, that bond saw my son and I through hardships and tears, and it made me realize that no matter what happened around us, we would be just fine. There are no more impromptu road trips for just Evan and me, but we do have a special night once a week where we go to the movies, still have dance parties and stay up to talk until 2 a.m. Just recently we went to my parent’s house, and when my dad brought out the four-wheelers, I hopped on one next to Evan and we took off. As we rode through the field, I looked over at him and saw him inhale, and give me that look. I had to catch my breath. We will always be a special duo.

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