She accidentally called me by her name the other day.
My daughter was trying to tell me something, and called me by her step-mother’s name on accident.
She immediately corrected herself and explained why she made the mistake. And, I smiled and said without missing a beat, “No big deal. What was your story?”
But, inside, I cringed. I’ll admit it.
Only a few weeks before, she’d described how she has a new friend who is like her—“She has two moms too, actually.” She’d said. And, I’d thought to myself…but she’s not your Mom. I am! It sounds so selfish as I write this. But, this is what went through my head.
After the tragedy in Connecticut, like most parents, every fiber of my being wanted to hold my children. My children were with my ex-husband and his new wife this weekend. And, when texted a few times to check on them, the ex acted unsurprisingly annoyed. That’s how he acts now—like he must tolerate my existence. I am the thorn in his side, and what did I want again?
After picking up and taking my son to confirmation class this morning, I asked him how his trip with his Dad to put together bikes for kids in need went this weekend. I knew this was a new tradition my kids’ father had started a few years ago, and I supported it wholeheartedly. My son said, “It was really great, Mom. The whole family was there.”
I quietly mumbled, “Well, not the whole family.” I knew I should not have said those words aloud. I really didn’t even know they were coming out of my mouth until I did. I truly have to learn to keep those thoughts only in my head. And, I look forward to a day when I don't even have those thoughts anymore.
The past few years have taught me so much. I’ve learned about what real friendships look like and, how a great majority of the time people may not be there for you in the way you expect or need. I have chosen to let go of the bitterness of that.
I’ve let go of the hurt feeling of being so quickly and easily replaced with my former family. I own the fact that, after years of counseling and trying, I was a part of the decision to end the marriage. I grieve for that, even though I hold no regrets and actually have new understanding of why that was necessary and justified.
I hold tight to the hope that I mean something to my children, but I also realistically know that there is a new mother figure in their life as well. I told them that it just means there is more love for them in the end. In my heart, I did believe it when I said it, but that doesn’t mean there is not a parallel fear that runs through me of losing the two things that mean the most to me in the world.
This past few years, I’ve lost a lot. Financial security. Half of my family. For a time, even my parents were not there. The comfort of tradition. A great chunk of my friendships (which were not friendships at all, I've realized.)
I could sit here and focus on that. The loss. There are rare occasions when I let myself feel it. I have a good cry, and I move on. And, I did that some this week, I’ll admit.
But, I have gained so much in the past few years too. I’ve grown in my faith with God. I’ve learned that I can and will make it on my own. I’ve learned that I don’t need someone else to complete me, but I’d also like very much to find a companion one day. I know now though, that if that is not what God has in mind for me, that I can still be happy.
I have learned to count my blessings and to focus on the positive. I have learned to recognize and appreciate my very blessed life, and pray for those less fortunate, because they are all around me. I have learned to let go of hurt and anger. I can now sit in a completely quiet home and have peace inside. Good friends who have watched me on this ride say that I seem much calmer in general now-content even. It is an accurate assessment, I think.
We do not always know or understand the road we find ourselves upon. I never saw myself as ever being divorced. I never thought I would be starting over at 40-years-old…that I would face a feeling that I could lose everything that matters most to me. I hug my kids tighter now. I tell them I love them multiple times a day. I never let them question how much they mean to me. I do all of this, not for the return hug or the hope that they love me too. Of course, I want that always. But, I do this because I feel it and they need to know they are important and meaningful to me.
In such a week when so much has been lost and we are having our faith so strongly tested, I have to trust that the road God has put my feet upon is the road I am destined to walk. I have to let my feet shuffle and stumble, when the path gets worn and rocky. I have to pick myself back up when I fall and keep looking ahead. I look off onto the horizon and know that the sun still sets in the same place and rises every morning in the same way. And, I know inside that many blessings lie ahead of me, once I have learned the lessons of today. And more lessons are to be learned along the way. Most of all, I know that my life has a purpose and a meaning, even when that meaning isn’t obvious to me. God has a plan for me. I just have to keep walking down this road…