My son Liam stayed home sick today. Mr. Grey had an out-of-town meeting early this morning, and I was scheduled to work the morning shift with my client until 2 pm.
I was in a bit of a pickle.
Liam is only ten, but responsibility oozes out of him like that of a thirty-year-old. He’s never lost or broken his glasses, he’s self-sufficient and the kindest, sweetest, most respectful ten-year-old I know. Still, I’m not comfortable leaving him home alone yet, and I don’t think he’s comfortable with it either judging by the way he kept calling out for me this morning and asking if I was still here.
I can count on one hand the times I’ve stepped out while he was home by himself. I can count those times on three fingers, to be exact. And the duration he sat at home by himself was no more than an hour and a half.
In the past, Liam seemed to take pride in being left to his own devices and trusted enough to be in the house without a parent for a little while. But this morning, I felt his anxious energy filling the room like a big damn elephant.
I asked him if he would feel better if I only left for an hour, checked on my client, Santa, and came back home.
“Yeah, thanks, Mom. I Love you.”
So, that’s what I did.
When I got home, I came bearing gifts of orange juice and a bacon egg and cheese biscuit from McDonald’s. He asked me if I wanted to sit on the couch and watch youtube videos with him.
Of course, I did.
When he finished eating, he scooted closer to me on the couch and cuddled up to me for that unmistakable mom warmth.
I kissed his head, wrapped my arm around him, and pulled him close.
That’s when it hit me.
I told him Luna asked me if dad and I were getting a divorce, and I was wondering if he feared the same thing.
“What made you think that?”
“I’ve been hearing you and dad fighting and slamming doors at night.”
I’ve tried my damndest to keep this, all of this, from them. But kids know. Even if they don’t know how to make sense of it consciously, they are painfully aware when the energy shifts in the house on a subconscious level.
Well, shit. Now what?
I comforted Liam as much as I could. I will continue to do that for the rest of my life. But sometimes, I don’t know the answers right then and there. And sometimes, pulling our kids in close, telling them we love them, and that it’s not their fault has to be good enough.
“When you’re a kid, you don’t realize you’re also watching your mom and dad grow up. ” — Marriage and Martini’s
9 Things I Want My Kids To Know About Their Dad And Me (that they’re not too young to understand):
- He makes me crazy. But I love him, and we are a family forever — whether we’re married or not. (And that the crazy-making has nothing to do with them.)
- We are fighting. (And slamming doors.) But we are also working harder than ever to replenish our nineteen-year connection.
- If a marriage seems too good to be true, the heavy lifting isn’t getting done, OR they’ve been there done that and came out on the other side mostly unscathed.
- Sometimes, I don’t know what to tell them because I’m unsure of the answer myself.
- I can’t predict the future. But I’m trying to make it better than the past.
- Sometimes, we are scared too.
- Things have been the hardest (and the most intense) they’ve ever been, but it has NOTHING to do with them.
- Whether or not we are husband and wife — we will always be mom and dad.
- I drive their dad crazy too. But he loves me.
I don’t know if my marriage is over. Or how we got to a place where I asked myself that question in the first place. I do know it will never be the same from this point on. Like I said in my last piece, I’m disoriented and having trouble making much sense of anything.
The only solution to my confusion is to write about it.
Over the last year, my emotional pendulum has swung from one extreme (open marriage) to the other (divorce). I believe with all my heart that we had to go there to find some kind of balance again. The hardest part is hanging on waiting for that pendulum to lose its momentum. I will continue to take it one self-care day at a time and hold on (but not too tight) to the hope that Mr. Grey and I will stop in the middle somewhere — together.
“Just a reminder over the holidays that we don’t need to keep our shit together all the time. It’s ok if our kids see us upset. It’s ok if we tell our kids we’re learning and growing, too. We don’t have to be perfect; we just have to be present.” — Marriage and Martini’s
Thank you for reading and spending time with me today. ❤ D
Some other parenting stories you might enjoy reading:
The Bright Side To Having An Overprotective Parent With OCD
Ever since my Thin Line piece got published I’ve been feeling guilty about not telling you the whole story.