For those of you who celebrate, Happy Mother’s Day. For those of you for whom Mother’s Day rips open your heart, I’m so very sorry. And for the rest of you, well, happy Sunday.
Growing up I would go on hospital rounds with my father to see his patients. The nurses thought it was cute, and would often ask me if I was going to be a nurse when I grew up. They never thought to ask me if I was going to be a doctor. Anyway, I always answered no. I knew that I wasn’t cut out for healthcare, even at an early age.
I wasn’t sure what profession I wanted to pursue, even into my college years. I had some ideas of professions I wasn’t suited for, but the right one didn’t just jump out at me.
The obvious choice would have been educator, but I couldn’t do that because 1. I was too smart, and 2. I was indoctrinated to believe that “those who can, do and those who can’t, teach.” How foolish I was to believe those two falsehoods. Good thing I got over that and eventually found my calling.
This isn’t about teaching, though, it’s about growing up and becoming a mother. No matter what occupation I was headed for, I always knew I wanted to be a mother. I could picture it in my head. There would be trips to the park, and learning to read. There would be visits to the beach and working on school projects together. There would be long conversations in the car and Disney movies. I was cut out for it. Well, maybe not the baby part so much, but the rest of it.
Fast forward several years, and not only am I teaching but I have a son. He’s twelve, and I love him with my whole heart. All of the things I envisioned have come to pass, and there’s so much more ahead. Being his mother is part of the fiber of who I am. Then things change.
I did not choose divorce. I did not choose to dissolve my family. It is something that I didn’t anticipate. I didn’t fight it either, because by the time it happened it was overdue, but I would not have set those wheels in motion.
I meant my wedding vows. I’m one who hangs on to things longer than she perhaps should. Still, it happened. In many ways it was a relief. But it one way it was devastating. I would no longer be a full time mother.
How is that possible? How could I continue on as if life is normal when I’ve gone from a family unit to all alone? My son needed to be with his father some of the time, I understood that, but I hated it. When he was with his father, he wasn’t with me. He wasn’t home. He was gone. I couldn’t parent him if he wasn’t there. I didn’t choose that. My heart was ripped apart.
I could stand not being married. There were even some advantages to it. In the long run, almost four years later, it was obviously for the best, at least for me. But what about for my son? Instead of two full time parents he has two part time parents. Not the same. Not good enough, in my opinion. I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry that he doesn’t get either of us all the time. He deserves his parents. All kids do. And parents deserve their kids. At least good parents do. And I’m a good parent, just ask my son.
May 11, 2014 at 11:02 am
wow- great post
May 11, 2014 at 11:49 am
Thanks. Guess I’m feeling a tiny bit raw today.
May 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm
LOTS of us are, and I think it’s amazing you had the courage to share it.
May 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm
Hang in there, it’s only one day, and tomorrow this too shall pass, right? 🙂
May 11, 2014 at 11:51 am
My sister and I are products of a part time mother and we didn’t come out with too many psychoses 😉
This post just reminds me how screwed up the family model is in our society. It truly takes a village, not a fragile “nuclear” family. Fortunately, my grandparents have been around since we were babies and I am forever grateful for their time and love. We need to go back to the more tribal way of family-life, of actual community.
And if you’re interested in that kind of stuff, The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff is a really fascinating read.
Cheers, and Happy Mothers Day,
May 11, 2014 at 12:25 pm
Thanks, BBK. It’s good to hear happy endings. 🙂
May 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm
I’m sure there are plenty of full time parents who do a shitty job parenting, BB. My point being, quality over quantity.
In a perfect world, sure, you’d have an intact family unit and your boy would have two full time parents. We don’t live in a perfect world; in fact, only 50% of marriages fall into that intact category, right?
You’re a good mom, and you love him with your whole heart. Neither of those two things cease to exist when he’s away with his dad.
Carry on, mom!
Happy Mother’s Day to you.
May 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm
My head knows you’re absolutely, but my heart still feels a little twinge. Thanks for the kind words, friend. 🙂
May 11, 2014 at 3:34 pm
Parenting is always tough. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
May 11, 2014 at 5:11 pm
I try not to be. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂
May 11, 2014 at 4:46 pm
I’m so sorry for how hard this has been for you! You wrote it beautifully; your pain comes through so clearly.
But you know, I am beginning to realize that we are mothers even when our kids aren’t in the room with us. You aren’t a “part time Mom”, you’re just his physical caretaker part of the time. You’re always “mom” in his head and his heart.
May 11, 2014 at 5:12 pm
Thanks. Now if only I could convince my heart of that… 🙂
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May 12, 2014 at 8:17 am
Beautifully written. As difficult as it is, please consider that kids learn by example. I’m divorced with one son who is now 24. We are very close. BB, you’re happy, having found someone you love and who loves you! That’s huge!! That must give your son peace of mind.
Now that my son is an adult, he’s told me that as upset as he was by the divorce, he’s never seen me happier. And I’m alone! Divorce is very unsettling, clearly. But seeing you in a stable healthy relationship is a gift to your son. Trust me, it was awful watching my son mirror my bad relationship with his girlfriends, trying to make sense of it all. It wasn’t until I met someone from my past who treated me with great love and respect. We are not together as lovers, but friends.
Mike’s found someone wonderful. They’ve been together two years and never a single fight.
It’s rough. But you’re on the right track. It gets so much easier when their older.
Happy belated mother’s day.
May 12, 2014 at 4:23 pm
Thank you for chiming in and your kind and wise words. I agree, he’s seeing me in a healthy, loving relationship now, and he has another man in his life as a positive role model.
My fiance is more like my son than my former husband, so for my son to see a man that isn’t a sports guy and enjoys the arts is a good thing. It’s also a good thing for him to see affection between us, which was extremely rare in my marriage.
My son will be fine, I know it, just some days I feel badly that he has to grow up the way he does, even if it probably is all for the best.