I find it interesting as I come up on my one year anniversary of officially being divorced that I’m remembering so many of the low points of that process which were such great lessons.
Today I am remembering the day that my son, Alex would be staying with me for the second time in the house I was renting. It was a day of an incredible roller coaster ride of emotions.
On this gorgeous day in September 2013, I met Alex and my then husband, Mark at Alex’s soccer game. After the game we went to Mark’s car where he had given me Alex’s Lightning McQueen suitcase with some of his clothes and his favorite stuffed animal. Up to this point Mark had not allowed me to take any of the toys or stuffed animals out of the house. So standing there at his truck I asked to go get some of the stuffed animals and toys from his house to bring over to my house so Alex could have some familiar things around. He was not happy but he did “allow” me to go back to the house and get some of them…under duress.
So when we got there I went up to Alex’s room and started getting some of the stuffed animals out. Alex and Mark stayed downstairs and I had started to throw the animals over the railing to the first floor. It was definitely an awkward moment and I could tell Mark was getting angry. I had also asked Alex to pick out some toys to bring over so he would have something to play with. He couldn’t pick anything out so I went downstairs to help. Mark was then following me around. Then I went back upstairs to finish with the stuffed animals. Alex then came up and started putting post-it notes on his window. Then Mark shouted up asking if I would be bringing this stuff back. Tensions were high. I remember thinking all I wanted was for my son to have something familiar in his new house. Alex was continuing to play with his Post-it notes. Mark then came up looking for an answer to his question and I couldn’t even look at him as his anger was so evident. I was frozen. I just wanted to protect Alex from all of it and get us out of there as quickly as I could. Then Alex said he didn’t want to go. Mark stood there angry with a “see what you’ve done” look on his face. I was starting to get very nervous, my head was spinning and I didn’t know what to do. I was questioning what have I done?! How could I have created this?! This was so hard. The tears had begun streaming down my face. Finally Mark couldn’t take anymore and he said he was leaving and going for a drive.
I then went into my office looking for one of Alex’s other stuffed animals. Alex followed me in. I remember falling into the chair to gather myself and Alex came up and sat on my lap and now we were both crying. I remember sobbing and thinking my son should not have to go through this, should not see Mommy crying. And in that instant, just for an instant, I thought Alex would be better off staying with Mark. I remember thinking how could a mother have such a thought!? Just having the awareness of the thought made my head spin further. It made my head spin so out of control I didn’t know what to do. So I cried and I cried and I held Alex tight. I managed to say to him, “This is hard, isn’t it?” And through his tears he said, “Yes, it is”. I told him it was hard for mommy too and it was okay to cry. I hugged him tighter and we just sat there crying together in the chair in what was once my office. After some time I managed to somehow gather myself and when it seemed Alex was ready we managed to pack up the car and head out.
On the way to the new house as l was still continuing to cry, I had an idea to stop at Michael’s craft store and find something fun we could do together. We got there after that very emotional time at the house and Alex found a Lego book which he asked me to read to him. I ended up sitting on the floor in the middle of Michael’s with puffy, red eyes and tears streaming down my cheeks with him in my lap as I read the book to him. My tears were still coming but sitting on the floor and reading that book somehow made things a little bit easier. I’ll never forget it.
Afterwards we started roaming the store and Alex was drawn to the Christmas scene they had displayed (mind you, it’s early September). It was up higher than his 6 year old eyes could really see so I held him up so that he could see all the different scenes. We must have walked around and around that scene 10 times looking at all the different houses, structures, trees, snow-lined streets, kids playing, carolers singing, all the while pointing to our favorites and just talking about all the details and what we liked about each one. He then asked if he could get something. And a lightbulb went off. I thought what a perfect day to start a new tradition. We would start a new Christmas village as part of our new life, adding to it each year. So I let him pick out whatever one he wanted…and he chose the ferris wheel. Now every time I see that ferris wheel I am reminded of that day and all we went through and the horrible thought that had passed through my mind and yet what a beautiful gift of a day it ended up to be. I know full well how much Alex needs his Dad AND his Mom. I say it all the time, he is my greatest teacher.