Each day, I discover something new — about myself, about the world, about particular situations. Yesterday I realized something about being a divorced mom of young kids living on and off with both parents. There seems to be an unspoken rule that you don’t say “I miss you.” How ironic this is, given that this is the worst I’ve ever missed them in our life together.
If I say “I miss you” it seems like an invitation for them to miss me too. And missing me while they are with their dad would be unfortunate, because they have him to enjoy. They don’t need to think about me, alone, wanting to kiss their soft cheeks or snuggle when they wake up. They deserve the opportunity to be fully present where they are, without some nostalgic mother tugging at their sleeves.
Telling them I miss them would also underscore the fact that they don’t live here half the time. And I am in part responsable for that situation. It would tempt us to think “what if” thoughts, wondering what life would be like had I not made the drastic decision that split up our family like this. It would be lingering on the negative, lingering too on all that we can not change.
“I miss you” also intimates that I am not able to find contentment without them near me. Which is not true, and I would not want to convey that to my children. My newfound freedom and regularly-occuring days with few constraints are rich in many ways. I have the luxury of time and space for seeking, and finding, myself. When the daily grind of preparing meals and sorting laundry and driving to and picking up and homework and showers comes to a halt, time expands and quiet settles in. It has been precious to be truly alone, despite the tinges and pinches and aches of longing and needing to be nearer.
Divorcing, in addition to a whole other slough of stuff, seems to mean accepting pain, accepting that there are shadows and doubt in life, as well as murky and uncomfortable places we must pass through. Part of accepting it all is accepting that I miss them and will continue to miss them. I am incomplete without them, but I must learn to live with the incompleteness, as must they. Parents learn this sooner or later. We don’t own our kids, we can’t keep them on a leash. They must be allowed to flourish wherever they are.
Will it make us stronger? Will our love adapt into new strains, hardy and resistant? I must believe that such treasures are indeed embedded in the muck and hard rock. I must trust that beyond the dark clouds is the sun, wielding a paintbrush powered by multitudes of rays. As many rays as there are raindrops falling on the other side. Balance exists, and is ours for the living.