Okay. Real talk tonight.
We had an interesting day that has opened my eyes and made me realize that we still have some fairly large obstacles ahead. And it scares me.
Quick back story:
My ex-husband and I haven’t been together for almost 6 years and he hasn’t seen his kids since 2016, nor spoken to them. And truth be told? I’m not sure he even remembers his encounters with them. The kids are used to life without him to say the least and there has been minimal conversation about him. I’ve chosen to not initiate conversation about their father, BUT I will answer their questions honestly, in their language maturity, if they choose to ask. Generally? We’ve been doing okay.
So. Aside from the random little questions here and there, we continue on our usual way of life and are truly moving forward. And I think we’re doing a pretty good job at it if I do say so myself. However, I’ve been noticing a general peak in their questions over the last week.
(Hmmm, is this general loss of their ‘normal’ life enhancing their feelings of parental loss?)
Last night, I was putting the boys to bed and my middle child, Greyson, tells me, literally out of nowhere, that he never wants to see his father again. Cue: blank face and no words coming from me. I kinda just sat there for a second and opened my mouth to come up with some sort of “hey hun you really don’t need to worry about it” sort of reassuring sentence and then his older bro, Kristian, pipes up that he is just so angry at his father for leaving me and them all alone and doesn’t want to see him ever again either. Well, crap. I mean, the silver lining here is that it was bed time and I was able to give them massive hugs and go downstairs to think of how I can gently and honestly approach these feelings they’re having. And I obviously turned on 90210 and zoned out to some Luke Perry all night. Duh.
So, this morning rolls around and Greyson is acting all sorts of crazy and just defying everything I say. Naturally, I’m frustrated and clearly not remembering anything he was saying last night so, I put him in a time out in the principals office. Aka in my room, sitting on the couch, with a book. The kid is siting there with a huge pout on his face and talking back non-stop and my head is likely doing a complete 360 at this point. I’m trying to figure out what kid has something due today and what school work needs to get done, etc etc. I didn’t have time for the Greyson back talk… until I hear his little voice all of a sudden say, “It’s time we take this name off of our family birthdays sign.”
I turn around and he’s yanking “Daddy” off of our birthday wall hanging sign I had picked up at a local vendors market (super cute, by the way.) Anyways, it was like all these lights started going off in my head and I was able to connect the dots to his behaviours and how he must be feeling. I stopped everything I was doing and went and sat with him and Kristian. They talked about A lot of big feelings they had and you could see the hurt and anger fill their eyes. We didn’t have a long conversation, by any means but I knew I had to validate their thoughts and feelings. And then I felt like a really terrible mother for completely forgetting that they still are going to be asking questions and navigating through their parental loss. They were so young when he left and they were never able to really and truly know what was going on. It’s a hard path to go down because I feel like I’ve been expected to bounce back quickly from my own trauma in order to stay strong for my kids. I’m now understanding that I had to deal with it all in a timely manner so that I was ready to help them cross their own troubled waters and help them answer whatever questions they had. I do get it. And I’m coming to grips with that we are going to potentially be jumping through some pretty big fire rings as the kids grow older.
This whole isolation has us all feeling a form of loss, 100%. Whether it’s just the simplicity of walking through a grocery store with ease or mourning the loss of a loved one in isolation, grievance is happening everywhere. And for majority of kids, this is their first time experiencing loss just by taking their daily routine away. For my kids? It makes sense that they’re sizing up previous losses and making the connections and comparisons right now. Honestly, I’m looking at it as a healthy cognitive connection because not only are they mentally seeking out previous similar emotions but they’re also realizing that life CAN get better and it’s possible to push through hard times. As for now, I suppose I need to open the communication lines a bit more. Maybe I need to look into some different ways that we can explore their feelings during all of this. I also need to make sure I’m taking care of myself.
Life as a single mother is crazy tough and this new way of life has me doubting everything I do. I feel like I’m not teaching them enough and feeling super guilty for letting them have extra screen time just because I need a minute. But, I need to step back and look at the bigger picture here and be open to the fact that my kids aren’t like the average and are going to deal with things a touch differently. I need to be ready and prepared for meltdowns, anger bursts and calls for attention. I know there are a number of people who brush off our history and are just waiting for me to fail as a mother and a person, but y’all better sit back and relax because it won’t happen. Trust me. I’m on top of these kids and I will provide them with every opportunity I possibly can. They have a mother who won’t settle for less and will work hard and chase dreams, even through a pandemic. And maybe that’s the best I can do right now. Maybe I just need to persevere through it all and show them that we get through the tough times by continuously setting goals and reaching them. I allow them to see me break down in tears because I want them to know its perfectly acceptable- and healthy- to feel and label these emotions.
Anyways, I’m choosing to give my kids validation through their bigger feelings. I’m choosing to keep an open mind when it comes to their crap-tacular behaviours right now. I’m choosing to eat my words when I’m singing songs to myself about how annoyed I am (yes that happens) and I’m choosing to let some school work slide so they can work through some feelings. And their father? I’m not sure how to totally handle that yet. I know I can accept their emotions and talk to them about how and why they feel the way they do and when we are able to go back out into the world, I’ll be looking into more resources but as for now? I’ll love them harder.