I grew up with two dads. Two incredible men were there for me with both my children, helped me in my difficult times, gave me a home when I didn’t have one and gave me away on one of the most important days of my life. I know what it means to share my own life with two fathers and in many ways by being a step-mother myself, I know the pains of being absent from a child and always feeling somewhat in the shadows. Though none of my own experiences gives me anything more than the logical awareness of what it means to share my own child. The understanding through wisdom is there, the emotional control escapes me.
I had my oldest son when I was 17. A whole other life, a whole other world from this one. I spent 11 years raising him without his Father, partially because I never sought him out and partially because he felt he would be intruding if I found him. Eventually we came together for my son and it was the greatest thing that ever happened to him in his life, one of the best things that could happen for all of us really, but sometimes I can’t help feeling that I lost a little bit… just a little piece… of importance.
For the very first time since he was born I am not going to have him for the Holiday’s. I made this agreement about sharing ONE holiday each year and it being my son’s choice, but this year I let both of them go because he wouldn’t have his summer with his Father whose having to do another tour in Afghanistan. It was the right thing to do, of course. As I told them both, I’ve gotten the chance to have many – many holidays with him and he’s only had one holiday with him in his whole life so far. It was fair.
I just don’t know why my brain isn’t matching my heart on this, because it kind of hurts.
There are moments when it gets late and I sit here by myself that I think about it. I think about all the Holidays that it was just him and I on our own. Our make-shift Christmas trees, gifts that I gave every ounce to afford and dinners that always had the essential necessary elements in smaller portions. I would spend months sacrificing so much of myself just to afford a couple gifts and there was this feeling when the morning came that it was all worth it, every bit was worth it to see him smile. There was this magical quality about everything on those mornings when it was just us and the whole cold world outside. He was the only warmth in my life.
Now we have a whole family, he has two whole families, and things are a quite different. It’s just imagining his absence is startling, unfathomable in many ways. I know that it is more the anticipation of what is coming rather than when it is there. I pace, I bite my nails and I wonder if he’s happier somewhere else. I think of the things he is missing and of the things he is not and ultimately feel in the middle.
I know in some small way that we parents that have to share our children are more prepared than most for the day that they eventually move on into their own worlds, homes and lives. Does it make it easier to be prepared – or worse? I’m not sure.
I’m more afraid of being forgotten.
Although it isn’t a competition, he has more in common with his Father than he does me. They both laugh the same, have the same appearances, same jokes, likes & dislikes – they’re so much alike it is sometimes hard to process. So I’m the odd one out… the parent that isn’t really into the cool things, the good music or the fun stuff; the one that isn’t really outgoing or exciting in any way really. I’m the strict one about grades, chores, responsibility, cleaning, hygiene, etc. The un-fun one.
You know – that parent.
In this way I’m really happy he is getting to go on vacation somewhere where he will do lots of exciting, fun, outrageous crazy things that he will talk about for months and that will make me secretly wish I was that parent.
In the end, even though all my experiences in sharing parents amount to my two dads – it’s my Mom I share the most sympathy with. The woman who we all left behind every summer, the one we always yelled at that we didn’t want to be with, the woman who worked every day and who we complained never did anything fun with us. I think of her when I look in the mirror.
On this side we look a lot alike, my Mother and I.
That’s the difficulties in sharing kids, especially on the Holidays. You let them go because you know you should, because it’s important to them to have that other part of their family, because they are excited and happy for the experience; because it’s what is best for them. Inside, deep inside, you harbor this feeling of loss and envy of the smiles and anticipation. When you are the one they are always with they aren’t exactly ever tremendously happy to see you or anticipate the day in which they will wake up and get to share another day with you. You’re always there, always easily the one that becomes invisible because you are in the background – a stagnant part of the painting.
For the Holidays this year my only hope is that my son doesn’t forget me again this year. That some part of him will remember that sometimes Mom’s need to be remembered. That although I am always here and always have been and will be here, that sometimes I need him to see that I am – even when I am hiding.
I send all of you that will be going through similar situations for the coming Holidays my thoughts and prayers.