Goodnight for Tristan

Hi. My name’s Nathan. I’m a single dad, in many respects, but primarily through the eyes of my son. His mother has always been a bit flighty, and recently has moved a few states south. He hasn’t actually seen her in more than two months, spoken to her less than twice in the time, and even before that barely had more than a handful of days in any given lunar cycle.

In some ways this is what I’ve always wanted – her unruly, unstable influence in absense of this happy boy’s young days.

And, of course, in other ways, it’s a burden on both of us. I have little time to be my 20-something self and he cries over missing her once or twice a month over missing her.

Almost every night I read him a story and rock him to sleep, but occasionally I just sing to him. I have no singing voice, but he seems to like it anyway. I often sing him Joanna Newsom’s Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowry, which he seems to like. At one point in the song the little faerie singer belts out “some great bellies ache with many bumble bees, and they sting so terribly” where he cringes up just as he should be falling asleep and I tickle him raw. He typically laughs and then relaxes again as the song winds down and puts him far enough into his own twilight dreams to make it through the night without fear of what things might go bump in said night.

Tonight, however, he didn’t fall asleep, and so I proceeded into my best rendition of the same singer’s Sadie, a song about her dog…

He broke out in tears, but silent, frown-twitching, holding-them-back tears, and I could tell they were all for his lost mother.

Parents should never raise their children alone.

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