Hold me, Intarweb.

It's very strange how my feelings for my ex range wildly from complete apathy (the preferred feeling) to white hot, burning rage (the slightly less desirable feeling).

But then, I guess it's not so odd, given that the white hot rage is generally brought to life by Rosebud and her feelings.

Her dad was away last week, on business. That meant that she didn't see him on Tuesday or Thursday, as she normally would. She didn't spend Friday night over there, as she normally would.

And believe me when I tell you, her sadness over it was felt. Mostly in the usual three-year-old's way - acting out, wanting extra attention, demonstrations of seemingly random acts of tantruming.

The usual stuff.

But on Thursday, after a reluctant (on her part) conversation with her absent father, via telephone, she broke down.

Rosebud doesn't cry all that often. She'll whine and rage and grump about things, but honest crying? Nah. She'll whack her head against something and shake it off. She'll pull a full wipeout onto her butt and get up, announcing to all and sundry "I'm okay!"

In short, she's a tough cookie. So when she really starts crying, I pay attention. I'll search for blood and broken bones. Or pins sticking out of her person. Some mortal injury must have taken place in order for tears to appear on my girl's face.

In this case, however, I knew what the problem was. It doesn't take Dr. Phil to trace the sequence of events to the fact that this child plain old missed her father.

So I did what any mother would. I held my girl and let her cry, all the while internally seething at the Thing That Hurt My Child.

"You miss your father, don't you honey?" I asked.

She nodded through the tears and said, "I think about that, you know."

I think about that, you know. It was like the veil of childhood parted for a moment, and she reached out to remind me that she's not just a child, but also a growing human, with the intellectual and emotional acumen to know when things are not right with her world. And more, it's something she thinks about on a regular basis.

You could've gutted me with a scaling knife and it would've hurt less. Holding my child as she cries her heart out, absorbing this flash of emotional maturity, this reminder about her internal life she felt I needed - this was hell on wheels, people. Absolute hell.

It doesn't matter how many times I remind myself that even if her father and I were together, he still would've taken trips for business. It doesn't matter that I think I told her all the right things - that it's okay to cry, and it's okay to be sad, and that her father loves her and misses her, and that *we* love her, too.

None of that matters when my child is hurting. All that matters is realizing I have no control over her hurt. I can't make it better. I can't resolve it. I can't put a bandaid on her thoughts.

Fortunately, she had a visit with him on Sunday. I thought, given how hard the week seemed to be for her, that she'd be unhappy to come home after such a short visit. But despite the visit only being three hours, she came home much restored, and not sad to be there.

I suppose that's good. All has been righted in Rosebud's world.

Mine, not so much. It'll take a long time before I stop hearing I think about that, you know on loop in my cranium.

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