I never wanted to be divorced. And I really didn’t want to EVER be divorced with kids caught in the middle. And yet, here I am 10 years after the big D.
Our two sons are now teens, which comes with its own set of challenges, including cellphone addiction, Netflixing, YouTubing (all verbs these days, right?)
And another challenge for this mom: I rarely see one of my sons. He remains at his dad’s house, even though we share custody. And it’s killing me. It’s the way the rejection comes. The way he delivers the words: “I told you, I’m not coming, Mom.”
This time, I turned to Facebook
I rarely broadcast my sorrows. I’m mostly into sharing the happy times, silly pictures and videos, and the good work of my colleagues at The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. My personal sad sharing is so rare that when I share that I’m down, it causes worry, a flurry of replies, private messages and a multitude of texts.
Push through it. Pretend it doesn’t hurt. Move on. That’s what I honestly have been trying to do. I really have. But this time, I just couldn’t hold it in. So I shared. And the response was overwhelmingly positive. The comments were self-affirming. The been-there-done-that, am-there-doing-that sort of goodness that comes when you’re surrounded by people who care, who love you and always have your best interests at heart.
The good and the gut checks
The responses came from friends I’ve known since high school, college, from work colleagues, former neighbors, relatives, fellow Toastmasters, those I’ve just met recently, and more. A fraction of the responses are below. All were gold — and some were gut checks:
- “The hurt is deeper when it comes from our own children/family and it’s so hard to understand.”
- “Stay strong. Sometimes you just have to let go and wait with open arms.”
- “It’s not their job to love you. It’s your job to love them.”
- “This too shall pass. These are rough years as a parent. Been there, doing/done that.”
- “This life is a marathon not a sprint. Time is on your side.”
- “Remember what I’ve said many times, ‘Don’t own what’s not yours to own.’ He needs to own what’s his.”
Dos and don’ts (some I did and shouldn’t have)
There were some that stuck in my brain lying in wait for when I was alone in the car, which is when tears fall, but also when insight comes. Maybe you’re struggling with a similar issue. Maybe everything is right in your world, but you know someone who could use these tips. So from my heart to yours from tearful moments spent in solitude behind the wheel, here they are:
- Do share, but only as much as you’re comfortable doing. For me, the soul-bearing comes and goes.
- Do educate yourself and surround yourself with support. There is a plethora of information on the Internet, at the library, from friends and in support groups you can find with a simple Google search.
- Don’t talk about your upset — or your ex — in front of your kids. I’ll out myself on this one. I’m not perfect. Never claimed to be. But, just don’t do it. You’ll drive that kid further away. I suspect that’s part of my problem 10 years post-divorce. The few negatives I’ve uttered are far outweighing the multitude of positive and wonderful things I’ve done.
- Don’t ruin the time you have with the kiddo who is with you. There’s nothing they can do about your upset and they’ll take on the responsibility of your sorrow. Not fair. Sometimes it takes a few minutes to choke back the tears, but do it.
- Do appreciate and love those close to you. Some of them replied to my Facebook post, but there are many more, including the man I’ve been sharing a life with for the past six years. His patience and love surpasses understanding. When I’m sad, it kills him and sabotages the snippets of time we have together.
- Do reach out to someone after you’ve choked back those tears. Counselor and life coach Eva Dwight is one such friend I trust who reminded me of her blog with applicable posts Hurtful Words…and Healing Words and another on handling disrespectful teen behavior. I loved her feedback during our phone conversation:
“If I keep my tone and my words respectful, then hopefully I can get them to mirror me. But if I mirror them when they’re being disrespectful, then we’ve both flipped our lids, and nothing good is coming out of that.”
“Always keep it positive, appreciative and respectful so they can never come back at you and say you’re feeding the fire.”
It’s not easy being a parent, and certainly not when there’s divorce. Oh, and the tumultuous teen years. There’s that, too.
Cherish the time you have, I say. And keep it real. My cousin said it best:
“Believe me it’s gonna get harder before it get better…..Enjoy every minute at this age….Even when it gets tough!”
I’m not giving up. I’m going to keep asking him to come over, keep hoping he will, and keep loving him no matter what.
Wendy Killeen is an azcentral.com producer and mom to two teenage sons. She’s also a Toastmaster, will always be an Iowa gal at heart and may or may not be addicted to iced tea.