That’s the conundrum in divorce when you have children. But alas, someone seems to always keep that part of their story alive because one of the two parents is always left with the responsibility of raising the family more than the other.
Being the grown-up more than the other.
Being the breadwinner more than the other.
Being the responsible one.
The reminders of your ever-present past are always there. It would all be so easy, if you could just say, here’s your hat what’s your hurry! Ba-Bye!
I’ve been divorced for a very long time. But because my children were so young when the marriage ended, it felt like I was always standing at the base of a new mountain. Over and over I looked down to see my feet planted in front of one mountain after another.
Looking up, sighing and wondering how I was going to hurdle this next one. When your two children are an infant and toddler, you have many gates still to cross on the journey of their growth. And at every gate, you stand alone. Well, you stand alone when the one who wanted to flee, refuses to stand with you.
He might be uncomfortable; and God we can’t have that, now can we?
I remember a year after he left us for the other woman, my son’s kindergarten had an open house. It was one of the first official events where we were not together as a united front. We had gone to things at his preschool and though it was awkward, I don’t remember it being too bad. But things had changed as the divorce was progressing and the threats of what he wouldn’t agree to were lobbed at me like hand grenades.
Though we both attended his open house, we attended it as two separate people who were very far away from the day that little boy was born.
He wouldn’t stand next to me; He wouldn’t converse with me.
The teacher tried to speak to both of us about our son, but he refused to have a conference with both of us at the same time. I left that evening in tears because it was the first experience parenting with a total stranger. And it was humiliating. I got used to it however in the ensuing years. He would not have a parent/teacher conference with me ever again.
It also put so much pressure on our son too because he was embarrassed when teachers would always somehow mention the two conference requirements in front of his friends. It was a dialog that played over and over with my son and daughter for that matter for years and years.
“Why can’t you and Dad just do one conference?” How do you explain to a child that their Dad refuses to meet with their mom?
You can’t, so you just have to say that. It lasted all the way to my son’s college graduation. His lack of connection and inclusion that day too left me feeling somewhat humiliated and it brought back my anger for him. I just could not understand why his comfort must always precede everyone else’s.
My father used to tell me, “Karen, the day you don’t care anymore, IS THE DAY YOU JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE!”
Starting a New Chapter In My Life
That day had finally come, but when it did my Dad had passed away. I made a point of going to visit him at the cemetery and verbally declaring out loud to him by saying, “DAD THE DAY HAS FINALLY COME! I JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE!”
I don’t care if he shared a birthday!
I don’t care if he shared a First Holy Communion!
I don’t care if he shared a Christmas…. a graduation…a school play …. anything!
I didn’t care!
But they did! I kept making the requests on behalf of my children who just wanted the memory and experience to feel like their friends whose parents sat next to each other. I was already fine with his answer of “No” but always had to prepare them. Every time.
So, when is that part of your story over?
I still have another college graduation, weddings, and who knows what else that we will hold a shared interest in. But I think I can say to my Dad again, that…I JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE! I think the time has truly come now.
That part of my story is indeed over.
I will still have to share car payments, doctors, dentist bills, and school costs for our daughter until she graduates college and is on her own. But I feel a strange sense of liberation.
I have reached this 20-year milestone. As I look over my shoulder, I see many nights of tears, and fear, uncertainties, loneliness, and dread as I raised a family all by myself. But as I look over the other shoulder, I see strength, convictions, a calm confidence, and a light now within me that has eluded me for two decades.
I am a 60-year-old single woman who has most literally sacrificed herself in order to raise two children to as close to the model I got in my upbringing. My goal was to give them security which came at the expense of my own.
But isn’t that what most parents do?
Most parents who can look past their own image, see that the real image of themselves has always been in their children. I have always believed that the real legacy one leaves, is in the lives we have touched while we were here on earth.
My ex-husband once told me when we were married that what he loved most about me, was my Bubbly personality. Over the past 20 years, I lost that part of me. I’m happy to say, that even in this strange time of Global Pandemic… I have regained that part of me.
I have regained it through the outpouring of love and support I have seen in my neighbors, family, and friends. And I have seen it with my own employer who selected me to continue working and did not lay me off. Good things come to those who believe, and I do believe that good things are on their way and I look forward to showing my Bubbly side to a new special someone.
I have learned that if we choose to straddle ourselves to fear and worry every day of the week, we rob ourselves of experiencing the real essence of life.
Yes, I was at one time, joyful and bubbly, and a basically happy person! I temporarily traded it all in for a scared, worried, and exhausted personality. I had abandoned that previous part of me, and I now want to pick it back up! I am finally letting go of that other part of my story. The one that caused me so much pain. I am voting for joy!
You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one!
So, if anyone is at the point of, YOU JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE, put down the old chapter and turn the page to a new chapter. I’m just doing it now. It has taken me a while, but it feels good.
I wish all of us the very best with expectations of nothing short of sheer joy and peace and finding their own inner Bubbly! As Chris Cuomo would say, “Let’s Get After It!”