I’ve been a mother for nearly 19 years. I’ve loved every single moment of it. My oldest son is a treasure, a joy. He is sensitive and so, so kind. Smart, funny, mischievous. And much like his mother, he is a people pleaser. How I wish this had been a recessive gene. Like really, really recessive.
It makes life complicated, being a people pleaser. While yes, it can be admirable to take care of others’ needs, whims, wishes, dreams before your own… it also cuts so deep. It’s often misinterpreted.
I’ve been divorced from his father for 17 ½ of those years. Admittedly, it was my decision. The right decision, but still hard. I tried to keep my son aware of how many people loved him, what an awesome family he has even if they don’t all live together, eat together on Sunday’s, celebrate holidays together.
I used to always tell him he got his athleticism from his dad and his uncle (my brother), his sense of humor from his grandfather (on that side) and from me. He was smart like his aunt (his dad’s sister), and precocious like my own daddy. I was quick to show him that he was a quirky and beautiful mix of us all. I told him often how lucky he was, after we each were remarried, to have an even bigger family…more people to love him and pray for him and be there for him. After all, he had the capacity to love us all. To love bigger. Kids always do.
Being a people pleaser, my feelings were often hurt over those years. His second birthday party, when I called his grandmother with an invitation and was told no, because it would be “awkward”. I sat in the kitchen floor and cried, realizing then what a hard road it would be. Because it wouldn’t have been awkward for me. It never should have been for anyone.
And as my son got older, there was more. More awkwardness, more spitefulness, more trying to please everyone. But now it was him that was playing the game. Despite my best efforts, there were times that I could not make better, that I could not explain away. Because while he was trying to make his splintered family happy, he didn’t realize yet that he couldn’t. Much like me, he would continue to try.
He is in college now. I’m so proud of the young man I raised. Some of his thoughts and beliefs are different than mine, and that’s okay. He is his own person. I realize that he always was. Even when they are two, or ten, or sixteen, kids are people with their own dreams and plans. I consider myself blessed to have been there to watch them grow bigger and become reality.
He is still a complicated mixture of two people that were not able to live together. One was bitter about it and the other tried to make it okay. I’m still trying to make it okay.
There is no longer custodial/noncustodial. I was told today by his dad that we didn’t need to ever talk to each other again. That there was no reason for it.
What a waste. What a hard, hard path for my son. And for my future daughter-in-law and grandchildren. He will continue to try to make everyone happy, and try to be everything to everyone. And my heart will continue to ache for him.
He knows I understand. He knows we share this.
Footnote: I rarely write about such a personal subject. Divorce is hard, even under the best circumstances. And the best circumstances are rare. It takes two people to have a successful marriage, and it takes two to have an unsuccessful marriage. A lot of the hurt is hard to let go and it pushes your buttons forever, maybe. I so wish this could have been different.
Also, there are two sides to every story. The truth probably lies somewhere in-between.