Some time ago, I had planned it to be the last shared family event. I thought that I had very fairly reached my limit of tolerance. It was time to learn to celebrate separately… not together.
As my kids got older, and I did too, I had found the limits of my patience. I had swallowed my pride and gone as the single mother to every requisite family event. Sometime, seemingly ages ago, my ex husband and I had agreed silently to share birthdays and graduations, and the weddings that would one day follow.
Wanting to enjoy, and not push past these precious family times, I agreed. We agreed. He with his wife, and me with our children.
This weekend just passed was indeed a rough one for me.
My middle child graduated from high school, and I was surprisingly invited to share in the “other side’s” family celebration. I had already expressed my desire to end the forced camaraderie as the children were older now and seemingly not showing any bad signs of the divorce. I had planned to split the weekend. He could have Saturday, and I would have the Sunday.
For years, I had done what was seemingly best for the children. I swallowed hard, biting my tongue or cheek when I wanted to cry.
This graduation was to be different, until my ex husband called me to invite me to the restaurant where his planned celebration was to occur. I was set to say no, until each of my kids asked me to attend.
I don’t know his motivation; I suspect it was because the kids are happier with me there.
Hair colored, clothes carefully picked out, I attended the dreaded dinner. Avoiding the eyes of my substitute, my presence seemed to be greatly appreciated by my children. My long lost relatives whom I missed dearly were genuinely pleased to see me. Not willing to simply sit in my seat at the end of the table, I happily shared some memories with those who were all too happy to indulge with me.
I enjoyed myself. I enjoyed that it seemed to bother the new wife. I put those thoughts out of my mind and remembered that this was no longer my place. I had had a little too much to drink, and was enjoying the life that was no longer my own. I had been loved by this family for many years. They held no ill will towards me.
We took pictures. We shared drink and food. I knew I had to get out of there before I started to cry.
My ex remained concerned that I had enough food and drink. He knew if he didn’t pass it my way, I would never have asked for anything at the other end of the table.
The evening ended with him telling me that he was glad that I decided to come. I don’t know what that means. I have spent too many years trying to figure him out; I did not intend to do that any more.
I found my literal way home; I am still searching for the figurative home where I feel I belong. He has moved on. Sadly, I have not. I don’t love him; I haven’t for some time.
He was not held back by his children. He moved on. I remained here, with our children as he moved on. Sadly he had started to move on before he moved out.
He moved on to his new life.
I am still waiting to start mine.
Each year will be a new reason to be drawn together for the children. The mistake of this weekend was a lesson. As my children get older, I have earned the right to think about how I will feel. It is now OK to say No. Go on without me.