It's a sensation that's both painful and lovely.
I couldn't sleep. The kids were at their dad's for Thanksgiving and my small apartment suddenly felt vast and vacuous. I savor my alone time and hate it as well. I can never be sure what's going on over there, and the worry weighs on me.
So I got up. I went to a spin class at an ungodly hour to punish my muscles. I've learned that if I transfer the hurt to the sinew and strong of me, I feel it less in my more fragile places. It feels bearable. Eventually, the endorphins kick in, and it's nearly unnoticeable — for a while at least.
Later, there will be friends and food and wine and love, and I will be glad not to monitor children and settle fights. But for now, there's a quiet home and hours to kill. I scour surfaces, I sing, I sip coffee and scramble eggs, and then I sink into a steaming bath.
The heat releases tension in my farthest reaches, and I feel tears threaten to topple me. Deep breath. I reach for my toes and turn my face inward, catching sight of the tattoo I see so rarely that I often forget I have it at all, the reminder to live in bravery and love.
I didn't know how much this life would require that of me, each day, over and over, in new ways and the same old ways. Today is no exception. It's hard to be a mother alone, and it's hard to be a mother when your children are gone and you're alone. It takes bravery and love.
Every day, it takes bravery and love. Bravery to hold on and let go and show up and stay put and try again and dig in and push through and hold still and let it all in and let it all out and brush it all off and know it's OK. And love? It's all love.
Love for the humans you made and raise and ache for and marvel at, and sometimes wish to be free of and can't imagine life without and hope to do right by and want all the best for. Love for yourself and your tribe and the life you're building, and the chance to do it and the moments both painful and lovely.
Every damn day, forever.
I can do this.
This article was originally published at unomum.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.