When We’re Not Together

When we’re not together, I’m just another shopper selecting avocados in the produce section, an average customer making a deposit at the bank, an ordinary woman checking her hair in the bathroom mirror at a rest stop.

I’m not someone’s mother—at least not noticeably—the only evidence buried in the depths of my purse where an eclectic assortment of toy cars, baby wipes and half-eaten fruit bars take up residence next to my wallet and keys.

When we’re not together, I bask in the simplicity of running errands without you, in the lightness of navigating parking lots and doctors’ office waiting rooms unencumbered by diaper bags and car seats, free of clammy little hands holding mine or chubby legs locked around my midsection.

But I feel a tangible absence when no one approaches my cart to comment on your smile, when the man at the deli counter who will happily twist his face into seemingly impossible expressions to make you laugh asks why I don’t have my sidekick with me today.

When we’re not together, I roll down the windows of daddy’s fast little car that used to be mine and crank the stereo up to ear-bleeding decibels, luxuriating in the feeling of driving well over the speed limit. I hug the tight curves of the road and watch the needle on the speedometer inch upward, relishing the adrenaline rush that comes with driving the somewhat careless way I did before there were two pieces of precious cargo strapped into the backseat.

But then I remember that, with the music so loud, I wouldn’t be able to hear you singing in your adorably high-pitched voice, too young to know the words or care that you have an audience. That fast little car, I realize, would be speeding by the cars and trucks you excitedly name from the backseat, nothing but a blur in your little window to the world.

When we’re not together, I try to convince myself that I’m still young enough to patronize trendy bars where the party doesn’t start until well after I’m ordinarily at the tail-end of a Netflix binge. I pretend that I belong there, clamoring for overpriced drinks with the fresh-out-of-college crowd, swaying on a packed dance floor in uncomfortably high heels to songs I no longer recognize.

But then I pull out my phone to check the time—how is it only 9:30?—and there’s your toothy smile lighting up my screen, reminding me of what I’m missing when we’re not together. In that moment, I secretly wish for nothing more than to be in the dark of your room rocking you to sleep, singing an off-key version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with your sweaty little head pressed into my chest.

When we’re not together I can almost believe that I am someone else entirely, a woman who doesn’t spend her days cleaning poop off her jeans while humming the theme song to Daniel Tiger and her nights wrestling little bodies into pajamas and negotiating the number of bedtime books to be read. When we’re not together, I am freer, less frazzled, more composed. I am simultaneously counting down the hours I can stay away and the minutes until I can come back to you.

It’s true that I traded in a lot of my old life to become a mother—the freedom, the simplicity, the faster car and the louder music—all of which seems so tempting during the long days when we’re together, without a break from each other. But it’s when we’re apart that I realize just how much I’m missing out on when I’m away. And your absence reminds me that the coming home will always be infinitely better than the being gone.

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Melissa Mowry

Melissa Mowry is a stay at home mom to 3 year old Chase and the slightly younger guy, Sam. She is the main voice behind One Mother to Another, which she started in July 2014 as a way to connect with other moms who felt just as lonely as she did some days. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Adam, and they live in their home state of Rhode Island. Melissa's work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, Coffee + Crumbs and Mamapedia, among others. Her book, One Mother to Another: This Is Just Between Us is for sale on Amazon.
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4 Responses to When We’re Not Together

  1. Kathleen August 28, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    This is beautiful. I am well beyond this stage of my life with my babies being off at college, but it was shared by a young cousin and I had to read. The ache of motherhood “when we’re not together” never changes even when they get older. As a young mother you long for them to be a little more independent, but believe me, that day will come and you will miss these, so enjoy ladies! As you have heard a million times, it goes so fast! And you will truly miss these days and their total awe and attachment to you!

  2. Katie Long August 31, 2015 at 12:33 am #

    Wor – I was thinking this the other day while at the grocery store, my two kids happily playing at home with Grandma getting her “grandma time” in. I would see women corralling their 2 or 3 kids, struggling to keep them from fighting or screaming and I felt like a fraud without mine there! So weird that I finally get a break and all I can think about are those two little, adorable distractions! Love your blog by the way

  3. Kelli Burkett August 31, 2015 at 4:08 am #

    Get out of my head! Lol Thank you for your honesty. I’m not abnormal after all…

  4. Laurie Stone September 2, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

    This is beautiful. So much of motherhood is a tug in different directions. My two sons are now in their twenties, but I remember how I couldn’t wait to have me-time in their young years. And yet I missed them when I was without them. The things you loved before you still love. Its just that you see them now through different eyes.

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