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What if...

I just took all three of my kids for their annual physical and there's nothing like a plot on a growth chart to remind me of how fast they are growing.  Time just keeps marching on, and at my urging, all those vegetable and fruits they consume are doing their job.  They are growing.  Sometimes it feels as if these days of their childhood are just slipping through my fingers, like grains of sand that I can't keep from finding their way through the cracks in my hands.

My middle daughter is having a hard time.  She's going to make it, I know she will.  She's tough and she's loved - it's just the getting through it that's hard.  Tonight she asked me to lay with her until she fell asleep and I found myself staring at her;  all 46 inches of her curled up next to me, chest rising and falling in a deep fresh air induced sleep, skin bronzed and kissed by the sun.  She was the picture of childhood and summer days.  She even smelled like the sun and the pool and a fresh breeze.  I breathed in deep and smiled at the innocence of her childhood.  And I marveled at her resilience, some of it she earned by her own right - Grace is a tough kid,  but some of it was just thrust upon her by time and circumstance.  I felt sad knowing that divorce will be a part of her story and that her childhood will be a mix of summer sweetness and heart ache.  But, this is her childhood, this is her time - and she may be struggling because her parents are divorced, but she's still busy being a kid and growing up.

My son saw a little girl being dropped off to her mother after time with her dad.  And she was sad.  He was so curious, in a very empathetic way.  I could see the surprise and then recognition on his face as if he was thinking - I know exactly how she feels.  There was almost a look of solidarity on his face because of this shared experience they had.  He didn't talk to the girl or even make eye contact with her, I could just see the understanding in his face.  He knew that pain she was feeling and he felt for her.  It was a little heartbreaking.

Divorce is hard and it is sad.  It is heartbreaking to see children find their way through a divorce, to see them try and work through the confusion, to try and understand things that are often beyond our own comprehension as adults.

Someone recently asked me if I had forgiven my ex.  What a loaded question.  I didn't really have an answer at the time, and even now - weeks later - I still don't.  But what I can say is some of the bitterness is gone.  Some of that feeling of needing to keep score of transgressions and disappointments.  Divorce is full of those.  So what's the point of keeping track?

And the further I get from that bitterness and anger, the closer I get to that feeling that it's going to be okay.  That this heart ache and sadness we all have to go through won't break us.  As sad as it is, I know that divorce was the better of two evils for me.  So this choice to change things, to set things right was not without price.  I know that.  And I knew it before I made that choice.  What I didn't know how hard it would be, or how gut-wrenching it would be to hold my childrens' hands through all of this.

But if it truly is to be a better choice, a better way of life - for me and my children - then there really is no room for the pettiness divorce can sometimes reduce us to where our interactions center around hurt feelings and pointing out each other's faults and short-comings.

Because here's the other truth about divorce that I'm learning - it is hard being a single parent.  It is hard being a single mom and it is hard being a single dad.  Each comes with their own unique difficulties, but the reality is we single parents are trying to wear so many different hats.  And we're trying to do this job called Parenting that's difficult enough when you're a team of two.  We're bound to screw up and make mistakes.  We're bound to forget homework, forget to sign a permission slip, forget to wash the clothes and return them to the right house, forget to send the overdue library book... we're going to drop the ball.  All of us - single moms and single dads.  It's inevitable.  It will happen.

And sometimes my frustration comes out and immediately I see the weight of that register on my kids' faces.  Whether they feel they've let me or their dad down, it's hard to see them take on that responsibility that's not theirs to own.  What would their world look like if in those moments we could step back and put aside our own hurt feelings and see it from their eyes?  What if I could remember in those moments that this is my second chance to set things right, that this is a new beginning and a better way for us?  What if I could let go of those hurt feelings and do what I can to make divorce less stressful, less heart breaking, even if just for a moment?  What if we could find it in ourselves to extend to that one person who has wounded us more than we could ever have imagined possible - just an ounce of grace for the moment?  What would that look like?

Too idealistic?  Or just flat out unrealistic?  Maybe.

But maybe not...  
After all, isn't it worth a shot?





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