There is an empty spot in our toothbrush holder. Again.
Elizabeth has left to go visit her father out of state for the summer, as she has for every summer since 2006. It never gets easier, to put her on that plane all by herself, to be gone from her for that long. A big hole gets ripped in my heart for 6-8 weeks every year.
It is only because I firmly believe in the fundamental right of every child to know their parents that this happens. I believed this even before I began studying and working as a family therapist and saw the damage that happened when a child had a parent bad mouth their other parent. I have never ever said anything to Elizabeth about her father that could be construed as negative. There is a lot about our relationship that I have not and will not tell her. He is half of her, like it or not.
Not to say that there has not been conflicts...God knows, there has been. I have said some things to him that I now regret, and I like to think he feels the same way. We get along a lot better now that we don't live in the same state. I have come to accept him for what he does do for Elizabeth, not try to make him to live up to what I think should be done for her. It has at least made my life a lot easier.
But, every night, when I see that empty spot, I think about what could have been. The past will never be changed...but I do think about how very different my life would have been had I made some very different choices. Do I regret Elizabeth? Absolutely 100% beyond a shadow of a doubt not. She was the best thing that ever happened to me. She came at a time when I desperately needed her, though I did not know it at the time. She was what drove me to be who and what I am today. I stopped trying to get approval from where it was not ever going to come from and started to live for what was best for her...and by doing that, I learned how to take care of me.
So when I look at that empty spot, I think of two things: First of all, pretty soon we will need a bigger holder for when Charlie gets teeth (bad mommy does not brush her gums, as supposedly you are supposed to...). Second of all, tough as it is to let her go, to see that hole in that holder, she needs this time with that part of her family. Sometimes letting go is the only way you can show someone how much you love them.