Letting Go…

It’s almost comical how little I actually produce of value these days. It used to be, that when I was working, really working for a salary and running a business, that I got more done in a day than most people do in 3. As a parent, I remind myself daily how valuable my presence is to my children but I too-often find myself searching for value in my life around my work, as I continue to search for meaningful employment.

We all move in cycles. Once, in my 20’s, I had the world at my feet! I knew that I was in love, that I wanted to be with this person for the rest of my life, have kids together, make a home…everything was a rainbow of colors everyday. We had the house, the dogs, the two kids, were starting a business together, and then “poof,” it disappeared…

Years later, My life is great, and luckily I never did collapse from that fall, but I did change. I had to re-group, re-define, and try to understand who I was as a person when not with this other person. And, I needed to learn how to be a mom without the same family unit- the other parent who wished this child/children, into this world.

With many LGBT couples, the idea of having a child, whether biologically or not, adopting, fostering, whatever the case, it is a conscious choice. For me and my then partner, it was one that we planned for 6 years. It had much fore-thought, and it was very quickly successful both in the getting pregnant and birthing process once we fully committed. Almost 7 years into being a mom, which then included a 3 and a 6 year-old, I was not planning to be a single parent.  I had also not planned to see my kids only half of their lives! That idea, once it sunk in, broke my heart. 18 years later, and having lived through that time, I am a changed mother.

There are many events that I’ve missed and  don’t even know about, that my kids did with their other mom and her friends and family. There are boo-boos, fears, crushes,  friends, clothes, outings, and special meals I’ve missed. There are relatives I’ve never met, and artwork they’ve made that I’ve never known, pictures and videos that I’ve seen but not been there for… It makes up half of their beings.

Almost all of the friends I knew in my 30’s as young lesbian couples, either with young kids or trying to have kids, are now divorced. They see their kids 3 or 4 days a week, split weekends and holidays, and have either a harmonious relationship with their ex. or a completely rancorous one, and sometimes even the known is unpredictable. The toll that it takes on the kids is unknowable, but it can sometimes come out in behaviors towards parents or siblings, or trouble at school, poor eating habits or obsessiveness with technology, TV, or anything! As a parent, it’s crazy-making because you can never have consistency. It’s a new norm, this consistent lack of consistency, and it doesn’t lend itself to consistent parenting. For those of you who either are going through this now or have gone through this with an ex, you know what I mean.

It’s becoming the norm in our society to ask our friends, “do you have your kids this weekend?” When did that become commonplace?

Yes, well we have our kids EVERY weekend. We can’t always plan ahead, and our lives are ruled by game schedules every day, not just monday thru wed.

No, we do not have any privacy. Our now 13 year-old stays up past our bedtime. She’s entered the Twilight zone and will be there a good 8-10 more years, staying up into the wee hours and then sleeping as late as possible. One good thing that’s happened this year, is that we can now leave the 2 littles with her at home and go out for a short time at night without worrying too much. They fight but it hasn’t come to punches yet!

This week I’m feeling like a mother duck whose ducklings have all wandered off. I’m searching in my mind to pinpoint all of their locations, reassuring myself that they are fine, wherever they are. My oldest is off in a mid-western state and calls me once a week. My next, college student daughter is working at a camp in the Berkshires this summer. My middle child, is at a soccer tournament with her team minus either parent and away from home for the first time on a multi-night trip. She’s making grown-up choices and experiencing new worlds.

I thought I’d be home with my both of my 10 year-olds tonight, but after attending my nephew’s graduation and birthday party, my son jumped for joy at a chance for a few days of individual attention with her Aunty and family. Meanwhile my wife is representing us at her nephew’s wedding and staying over with a relative. Tomorrow, we leave early to take our “little, little girl,” to her first week at sleep-away camp!

So what’s this all about anyway?

It’s about reminding myself to enjoy my life while it’s happening. Back when my “first” family fell apart, I was mourning the loss of my everyday connection to my children. I eventually reconciled with it, but I was acutely aware everyday what the impact was on them as children. It shaped their lives, and it’s shaping all of my friends’ kids lives now. Early on in my present relationship, my wife and I grew to relish in our alone time when the kids were not there. It gave us an appreciation of how much a relationship needed to be nurtured and how as individuals, we needed our alone time as well. Guilt-free time, I suppose, when one knows that the kids are getting enough attention from someone else.

Now that we have three more, we see how important that time is still, and have always tried to build “date night” into our weeks, but we can also see that the time will soon be upon us when they are all grown and have moved on, only to arrive home on holidays.

Enjoy your kids. Before you know it they’ll be all grown and working it all out in therapy!

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