Some days in life - some moments in time - are forever etched in your memory, stamped on your brain like a polaroid set there to revisit time and time again … sometimes, those moment are centered around unique experiences and fun. But sometimes, they come as defining moments – the ones that aren’t triggered necessarily by a joyous occasion, but instead a drop of life that hits you and changes you forever.
I’ll never forget the day. I call it the bench day. It was the day I dropped my three young children off at elementary school – walked them to the front door, kissed them goodbye and headed straight for the bench on the walkway where I stared into oblivion for what seemed like hours.
Though it was probably something like 15 minutes.
I held back tears as I watched the rest of the school children walk past me and into their classrooms. The tears burned in my throat and my neck hurt from the strain of holding them back - this was the first day my children would spend the night with their father, away from me, in his new place. And what soon would be their new home – their 2nd home.
That morning, I tried to look confident and strong as I walked my children through the schedule and prepared for their needs to be met.
“OK, so let’s think of everything you’ll need while you’re at dad’s,” I said – “toothbrush, toothpaste, hair clip..” the list went on and on. We made the notes and I told them I would buy those items that day so they could have them at their father’s house. They were strong and brave too –
but we were all dying inside.
That day, I sat on that bench wondering and questioning for the millionth time if I was doing the right thing…I was in shock, stunned, I could hardly breathe… how could this scenario possibly be better for our children? How? I wasn’t sure I could see it – where was the good in any of this?
But I knew I could no longer subject myself to a life with a man who could not be fully present in our relationship… so I sat and I trusted and I hoped my feelings would turn around.
It’s been four years and as I look now at my children, I know I am a much better mom to them - albeit a single mom. There is no doubt in my mind I am the best mom I can possibly be. And they are reaping the benefits.
Gone are the days of my displaced emotions of anger and frustration because my needs weren’t being met in my partnership.
My house is calm - the chaos of dysfunction removed. People who come to my home often remark on how quiet and peaceful it is. Yes, because I am quiet and peaceful - despite my type A, ‘let’s get shit done’ personality. (which I’ve learned, drives my kids CRAZY!)
We are as open and honest as we are able to be about our feelings and our lives. We are coming out of hiding.
My kids aren’t around all the time. Getting divorced is like experiencing empty nest syndrome 10 years too early.
Truth – sometimes that is really fun but most times, it’s still hard.
BUT one thing this has done is require me to make choices about parenting – realizing I was not going to be there to ‘help them’ in and out of life's trials and struggles every day – my #1 parenting goal quickly became to help create exceptional people, who can act and think for themselves.
I was surprised how ineffectively I was doing this before the divorce.
Now, my parenting is filled with natural consequences and real life conversations and training on how to do stuff, care for themselves (their hearts, minds, and bodies), and interact effectively and lovingly with the world around them…
nothing else matters much.
If my kids can master these things, they’ll do just fine – regardless if I’m physically present or not.
The Sara on the bench that day could have never imagined the mom she is now… my kids are better for it, so am I, and I am grateful.
Happy Mother's Day.