“I want you back my love.” My words to my son last night. It’s been an unsettling couple of years in our house but I had not fully appreciated how tough it would be for my son on top of everything else.
My first born. My handsome, clever and sensitive young man. A part of him is fragmented and missing at the moment; the task for us and more particularly me, now lies in putting the pieces back together.
As is a mother’s way I am prone to blame myself and beat myself up as I reflect on his journey into adulthood.
I divorced his father when he was only young. At the time it seemed the best decision for him and for us. No-one wants to grow up in a household of angst and division was my thought process, but did I really put him first or was it me that mattered most?
Making the decision to divorce is never easy and I admire those that decide against it and stick at their marriage in the best interests of their child or children. I couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried to resist that scenario. The marriage had turned sour for all the reasons that childhood romances can do just by their longevity and cutting free just felt right. I had had enough and wanted out and once I had reached that point in my thought process there was absolutely no turning back.
So yes in truth I did put me first, made the break and off we went into the dim sunset, but in doing so I threw us and more definitely my son into an uncertain future.
Passed from pillar to post every other weekend between divorced parents at any age is tough. I still remember so clearly the time he returned after his first weekend away with his father. Confused. Upset. Not really understanding. How do you explain that scenario to a three year old?
You can’t is the simple answer. You just go through the motions of keeping everything amicable and civilised in the best interests of your child and work and pray for the best.
As the years passed and more conversations occurred I simply reiterated the recommended spiel, explaining that his father and I still loved him more than life itself, if not each other.
My ex came over during the week when he could, to read to him and put him to bed but there was always that killer question the next morning when he woke “Where’s daddy?”
My own parents struggled with my decision for a while but they were as always loving and supportive. As for my ex’s parents I was the devil incarnate, but quite frankly I didn’t give a damn.
I was happy in me for the first time in an age. Dramatic maybe but I was having a jolly old time, finding the real me again, fighting harder in my career than at any other point, hungry and ambitious because I had to be, after all there was no-one to fall back on anymore and selfishly I was enjoying my life free of the garbage of a relationship that had in hindsight made me so miserable for so long.
Inevitably, there were bad times along the way. Being a single parent is never easy, but I had sowed those seeds so I had no choice but to just deal with them as best I could.
Fast forward and here we are many years later with the unspoken words of that time coming back at me in shed loads. My just deserts some cynics might say. Just when I thought we were through it all and the journey was complete my son’s demons have reared their ugly heads and upset the balance.
It has made me think a lot about our parenting journey. What happened? When did it all start to go wrong? Did I miss some important signs along the way? Is it all because of the divorce?
Of course not is my rational brain thought process. After all many go through divorce, move forward, live in a blended family environment and survive happily ever after.
The other brain segment, however, the one that plays merry hell with my sleep, anxiety and general well-being says yes, of course, it’s related.
Divorce is unsettling, questions are often left unasked by the children involved and thereby left unanswered and that is even before the inevitable volatility that arises between divorced parents and newly formed families.
There are, however, many positives among the broken fragments which provides a welcome relief.
Aside from a great bunch of mates who have his back at all times and the security of a gorgeous relationship, he is lucky enough to have a loving and adoring stepfather and a wonderful younger sister who would climb mountains for him. Half sister by the way is a term I have resolutely refused to use over the years as it simply draws attention to the negativity of a previous failed relationship rather than the good of a new one.
There is always more beneath the surface of every individual and with him we are just cracking the top of the iceberg. I am anxious, worried and aside from my cancer crisis, perhaps more than at any other time nervous as to how we navigate this next bit in our lives and move forward.
That said I am hopeful that everything can be sorted. Love is the glue for all life’s troubles and trite as that might sound I am holding that thought close to me right now.
I am confident we will get to the end of this particular segment of our family journey in one piece, because we are strong and if I didn’t think and believe that, we have almost certainly failed before we have even started. “I want you back my love.”
Editor’s Note: As always I welcome your thoughts and comments.