Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day Blues...

Today was Father's Day.  I love my Dad. No, he wasn't perfect, but he was and still is a great Father. I love the relationship that I have with him and cherish every conversation that we have. One of the perks of becoming a parent is the almost instantaneous realization that all those times as a child or adolescent that I thought were horrible because of my parents were actually really awesome. The understanding that everything they did, was out of love for me and my brothers and that even when I felt that they were going to ruin my life, really they were making it better. Yes, they messed up, but they did the best that they could with what they knew and it was always in the name of love. There is no manual on how to be a perfect parent. It is a learning process that evolves with each child and with each year of their lives. Everyone in this world should be so lucky as to have that "a-ha" moment of realization. The amount of love and respect that I had for my parents tripled with the birth of each one of my own children. It is very comforting to know that one day, my kids will also gain that extra helping of love and respect for me.

Having spent the past week in a state of reflection, regret, happiness, and pride, I was conflicted about this particular day - as I was last month on Mother's Day. Being divorced at the age of 41, with three children, was not on my list of things to accomplish in my adult life. I never wanted to put my kids through the pain of divorce. It wasn't something that I was flippant about either. I waited, and hoped that things might change, praying fervently that somehow we could work through the issues and come out on the other side, still married and more in love than we were on the day that we got married. After all, my parents sacrificed for me and stayed together when their marriage seemed to be heading south. Sadly, that was not to be for me. So now, my kids are having to learn the tough lesson that saying you are sorry isn't always going to make things better. They are learning that relationships are complicated and that adults can sometimes be more childish than the kids are. Denver and I are working on making this easier for them. We are friendly, most of the time, and even spend time together as a family occasionally - albeit a slightly broken family.

Today was my weekend with the kids. But, in the spirit of trying to show them that they are more important that anything else, Denver joined us for dinner and dessert. It was a really nice day. Denver took Evan fishing and the kids were able to spend time with their Dad in spite of the situation. I hope it will always be this way. I hope that no matter where life takes us, and no matter who either one of us ends up in a new relationship with, we can remember how important it is to put the kids first. I watched Denver's first wife nearly destroy the son they shared together by putting herself first. Although I have more empathy for her now than I ever did in the past, I am saddened by the way that she handled their divorce and the effect that it had on Alec, who is now 18. He could have had a life enriched by two loving families rather than the one he lived, feeling forced to choose sides. I see glimpses of understanding in him now, but sadly he grew up barely knowing my kids, his siblings, and only tolerating me as his step-mother no matter how much I tried to be his friend and to love him. In the end it was really Alec that suffered more than any of us.

I know it will be difficult when Denver finally moves on and finds another woman to love and share his life with. I can imagine how hard it was for Nathalie to allow another woman to mother her son, even if it was only for a weekend or a couple of weeks each year. I don't like the idea of my kids loving another woman as a mother-figure. But it is the reality that I face and they will be better off feeling that they are allowed. Feeling that they don't have to choose. I can suppress those fears for the sake of their mental health and well-being. I hope that Denver will do the same.

No, this was definitely not the way I pictured my life would turn out. I have no idea what is in store for me. I lay awake at night and wonder:  Will I find someone that I can share my life with? Someone who can handle my baggage and still love me? Or will I spend the rest of my life alone? Trying to figure out how to date again and still be a good mother is exhausting and frightening. Some days, I don't want to even bother. But on the weekends that my kids are with their Father, I am lonely and I know that I don't want to be alone. I am grateful, however, that my parents taught me independence. They taught me how to take care of myself and they are still teaching me. So, if it happens to be that I never find someone to love and share my life with, I will be able to survive and to do so with grace. And one day I know that my children will understand why they had to go through this. They will see me differently and know that leaving their father was not an act of selfishness - even though I am certain this thought has crossed their young minds already. Sometimes, divorce is necessary. Sometimes divorce creates better parents. But it always sucks and I will probably always mourn what should have been, in one way or another - even when I have moved on.


Mel said...

What a heartfelt post, Vanessa! You are strong and amazing. I wish only the best (and lots of happiness) for you!

Vanessa Shannon said...

Thanks Mel :)