One for Me, One for You...
How do I live my life without my kids?
I sat at my desk, going through bills and thinking about how the hell do you rip apart a life that has been built together for 16 years? It’s like pulling apart fiberglass. I’d open a drawer and realize I had birthday cards sent to her because I’m the one who goes through the mail everyday.
Do we have to go through every box of photos and decide who gets what?
What about Ben’s outfit he came home from the hospital in after he was born? Or Zachary’s? Or Jake’s?
Or the three tiny sleepers I kept because they were so cute and all three wore- miraculously never puked or pooped on. One for you, one for me…
I’ve been a stay at home mom with my kids for years. I did go back to work a couple years ago, but for the most part, I’ve been at home. When my job took too much out of me, I left. (That is the WAY simple version of a very complicated situation.) I love being home when my kids get home. I love picking them up at school. It is my world.
I don’t like doing the homework, though. The math is over my head.
Suddenly, I’m looking at a divided household. If they have math homework they have to go to Jeanine’s house? And who will cook them dinner and do their laundry? How many houses will these kids end up with because, after all, there is Walter and Allan’s house, too?
I was down the road, around the bend and already trying to figure out seating arrangements at each of the kids’ weddings- four moms? Two dads? Would we even talk to each other?
I was alone in my house- a time that is usually precious to me and all I could think about was my family was over?
At the peak of her anger, Jeanine said to me, You know I will have the kids half the time.
I said, Yes. I know. You are their mother.
I didn’t know how it would look or what arrangements we would make but I did know they would be with her half the time. And Walter and Allan would have their time. My family shattered into tiny slivers of time here, there. We would not be whole anymore.
No more family dinners on Sunday nights to go through the sign language book and learn a couple new signs. Or decide where the swearing jar money would be donated. What would holidays look like?
I thought about a friend of Ben’s whose parents got divorced. He never sees her anymore because there is no time. I never understood until that moment why the parents clung so tightly to their moments with her.
I do now.
It was more than having my heart ripped out. It was losing the only stability I have ever had in my life.
So I begged.
Didn’t work. To be honest? The begging was kind of passive aggressive. I’m not good at begging.
I thought about something a friend wrote me earlier-
"Sometimes when it hurts so much I trace the feeling back through its own genealogy so I can understand it may not all be about the present. Old nerves re-exposed, like the crown fell off."
I was angry, hurt and abandoned. My root? I am three weeks old and given up for adoption. It runs deep.
Where was Jeanine? What was the path, the root? I didn’t know.
I stopped thinking about how it would be to tear my family apart. Against every bone in my body, I sat still.
We had dinner for Ben- his farewell dinner before going to farm camp had to be at a restaurant in a mall- with just Walter, Jeanine and myself. Jake was off with Allan on a special trip and Zachary still off at his camp.
Cease fire called. Ben comes first. The mall picked, the restaurant chosen, we went out.
We snipped a little, here and there, but for the most part, Ben was the focus.
I kept looking around the table and thinking, this is my family. I don’t want it to end. I can’t let it end.
I think Jeanine was feeling the same thing. When we got home, she did not retire to her office to work. We all played video games.
(Yes, we both love playing video games as much, if not more, than the kids.)
It was our home, our kid, and our world.
I could rebuild my life. I could start over again. I have shouldered so much, this would not kill me. I would be able to figure out the place settings at the weddings and I would make it work for my kids.
I knew I could.
I didn’t want to. Our lives are woven together for a reason. We are a family.
I can’t promise this is going to work or that all of what is on the table can be resolved.
On Sunday night? We both knew we needed to try again. We had to retrace our old wounds and stop pointing fingers. We were both hurt and angry but it was no place to decide about the rest of our lives.
I don’t want to learn how to live without my kids. Neither does she. Some where deep inside? We don’t want to learn how to live without each other, either.