My daughter Iliana was born into crisis. Her continued good-cheer in the center of that kept many of us relatively sane, in the midst of her mother's decline. She's been a tiny anchor, keeping me from forgetting my place in the world when a part of me wanted nothing more than to cut adrift.
But she's also exhausting, as only a very aware one-year-old could be. She runs Erika ragged during the day, and then has enough left to wear me out in the hour I'm usually home before her own bed-time. Between then and her wake-up I try to push everything that isn't work.
And I can see the warning signs of burnout in myself, plain as day. My spaces are slowly filling up with kipple, the physical trace of tasks unfinished and hung up to wait. My computer piles up half-finished reading and other task lists, some better attended than others but all slowly filling, rather than emptying. And my concentration on work is sheer force of will, in a job that I have been working my entire adult life to get to. Tardiness, my old nemesis, stalks my schedule-book like a Jack-the-Rip-Off, killing plans in the most banal of manners. Sleep comes less and less regularly, and anger comes more easily.
And my son gets along as best he can with the limited time and energy his dad has left for him, after work and wee one.
The month that Iliana went visiting grandparents was an immense relief, but tinged with guilt and anticipation. So I thought for a while. And I went to Flipside, and talked with Reesa a little (I did say relatively sane). And the conclusion I reached is this: I owe both of my children full-time parenting, and I'm giving them each barely half-time as it is. Erika is filling in the gaps admirably, but (and this is praising by faintness of insult) she's not Reesa; we don't have that rapport, nor her years of deep thinking and research on child-rearing. And I'm running out of steam, and that isn't something that getting more local help could address because I'm already getting plenty. And if I stop the whole damn works stops, and neither of them get the parenting they deserve.
So I've sent Iliana to live with Reesa's mother Deb, up near Dallas. This puts her very near a lot of her relatives, including her uncle Derek and her grandparents Ken and Mary. Deb and I have a strong rapport, and I think between us we can do a good job of remembering all the good things Reesa wanted for Iliana. Dylan and I will remain here in the Austin area while he's finishing high-school, and hopefully between us remembering all the good things Reesa wanted for him. There will be regular visits, and more regular video calls. When Dylan's out in the world on his own, Deb and I will be talking about living closer together and sharing in Iliana's care (she insisted, and I grok completely).
I'm beaten up. I know this was the right decision, but it hurts in ways I didn't think I had any capacity left for. I spent a month agonizing over it every stray second. I screamed and got religion at a dying pyre over it. I made my mind up, fought myself until I was bloodied and bloody sure. I'm crying now, I've been crying quietly for a week or more, and I. Don't. Cry.
Except to raging at the passing of a light. Even if this little one's just going a short way up the road.