Thursday, May 1, 2008

If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember.

There are two groups of people in a child's life that have the greatest influence on them. The first are parents. Children are fiercely loyal to their parents no matter what kind of people they happen to be. This is good for the parent who realizes and understands the impact of that unconditional love. It is not so good for the child, as I know full well being a child of divorce myself, when that faith is shaken and tested unrelentingly. With all my experience growing up in a broken, blended, extended, mended and re-mended home, I am still wholly unprepared for single parenthood and the challenges that come with. Truth be told, I'm a little embarrassed to write this post. I'm sure some of you may think it's a little too much self exposure, like displaying an open sore for the world to see. I myself don't know why I am writing this today, only that I feel I must and for the first time there is no one to stop me from baring my soul. No one to say people will judge, people will talk, it isn't proper or dignified or even right.

There is an undeniable fact of divorce that not many people are willing to admit, especially those working hard at convincing themselves of the opposite. It is that time does not heal. Time soothes the sting and sometimes it mysteriously obliterates parts of trauma from the memory, but it never completely heals. I steady myself for the journey ahead knowing full well that no amount of proper planning, counseling or parenting on my part will shield my children from the wreckage of what we have done to them. Do all dads leave? Why couldn't you fight less? Do you really believe he doesn't love you anymore? Questions I am compelled to answer because I know that if I don't, they will be imprinted in their minds. My own questions still remain, decades after my self-proclaimed/deceived healing.

My STBX and I were ordered to go to separation class this week. It was intended, among other things, to remind us that kids are not divorce-able. Would I have gone if I wasn't ordered to do so? Probably not, but I'm glad I did. It reminded me that I hadn't healed and that is big. It is big because as painful as it is to relive the emotions, they are the same emotions my children are feeling right now. I am doing to them, we are doing to them, what we stayed awake at night crying over as children.

I learned that children will always fantasize about reconciliation, that most feel they are responsible or did something to contribute to the break up, that they have to grieve and that they need to learn how to accept the permanence of divorce.

What happens now? I embrace the resiliency they have and harness that power to help them understand. I walk with them through this storm and I weather with them, the little ones that arise over time. I let them ask questions, make their own judgments, cry and be sad. I'll also let them venture into new territory, learn to take a chance on love again, open their hearts to new people and celebrate. I'll remember that they love their dad and that he loves them. I'll remind them every day that I love them.

"If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you.” - Winnie the Pooh


The second most influential people in childrens' lives are teachers. When asked who they admire most, children will either answer that it is a parent or a teacher. Teachers take this to heart when they walk into their classrooms, at least the ones who can recognize that they do indeed touch the future.

May 5 - 9 is National Teacher Week. It is easy to take for granted everything a teacher does because we do not see the preparation, consideration and time they put into each day with our children. Teaching is not a career, it is a lifestyle. It is a commitment to serve children, all children. I salute the teachers who give of themselves every day so that our children get what they are entitled to, a solid foundation of learning and a safe environment to grow in. Please join me in thanking the many teachers out there who have touched our lives. I want to extend my own thanks to my favorite teacher and the staff of Garapan Elementary School for their dedication to the task of raising competent and competitive learners. Kudos to you Mallards, you make it easy to love my job!!

If you want to, I'm posting a copy of the parent letter that went out this week. It has suggestions on how you can show your appreciation to that special teacher in your child's life.


Saipan Kat said...

Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.

Such a moving entry... I admire your inner strength Boni.

Jane said...

You've got courage, tacking an oft-stated maxim that we seldom question.

There's guilt lurking just beneath the surface, guilt about not being a perfect parent, not being a good-enough parent, not being the kind of parent who could protect a child from this hurt, the hurt of a "broken" family, an "absent parent."

I feel this guilt. My daughter's father died, for God's sake. His absence is not my fault. I didn't kill him. But I couldn't keep him alive, either. And I haven't re-married, haven't provided any other father for my daughter.

My daughter deserves a father. She needs one. And as her mother, I should be doing what is needed, but I'm not, I haven't. And yes, I feel this guilt, the guilt of causing hurt to an innocent child in my care.

Will I ever forgive myself? I'm not sure. I've been trying.

I realize that there's too much to do and no sense in guilt. There's no help in guilt. So no wallowing in guilt.

And I've learned a lot from my own short-comings, and the situation I'm in, being a single parent/widow. But knowledge is poor compensation for the damage done.

I'm glad you went to the separating parents forum. It's a new program, and one that offers a small bit of help for those couples facing divorce.

Take care.

Boni said...

It's all very confusing. It's a different bike, not the same ride, but I know the path like the back of my hand. sigh...

catpag said...

Boni, parenting is tough enough as it is, and even tougher when we feel as though we have to answer questions as a single parent. You're right though, time hasn't healed (and it's been 7 years for me now) boys still ask questions, they still feel anger, they are still confused. But the constant is to always remind them that they are NOT the reason the family broke up. Your strength, your courage and your love will help you when you feel like not getting up.
Take care my friend.

Marianas Pride said...

Boni, thank you for sharing something so important. Your thoughts are important not just to those who know you and love you, but for those who may be going through divorce or separation. Boni, I think one of the greatest things we have on Saipan is our network of family and friends, who stand by you during your darkest times. With that said, you know you can always rely on me for anything. Take care and I am proud of you for taking the higher road. ;)

Bruce A. Bateman said...

One thing that may bring some consolation, Boni...the kids may not be as divorced as you are. Once over their initial anger and frustration they may have an easier time dealiing with Tony as a Dad that you have dealing with him as an ex-husband. If he really still does love them, they will sense that.

None of the above makes it any easier for you, though. In fact, their divided loyalties may make it even harder for you to bear.

You have already implied that the most important thing is to make sure the kids weather this...Remember, they are strong. You taught them to be strong. They will maintain, thanks to you.

Boni said...

Thank you everyone for the encouragement. Cat, I take your words to heart and I will continue to remind them. Ed, I'm so blessed, oh my God, beyond measure, by such wonderful friends. Bruce, divided loyalties...I will always hope that they love their father. I know I always wanted permission to love my mother when she left. Strong is a matter of opinion. Fear is pain leaving the body, as they say in the Marine Corps. I guess I do take something of value away with this marriage's end.

Boni said...

Correction: Pain is fear leaving the body. Semper Fi, for old times sake.

Marianas Pride said...

Boni, I had a lot of influential teachers in my life. One that I am sure you remember when we were in 8th grade was Miss Szolek. Man, was she hot or what?! Lol. Just kidding. Seriously though, she was a very caring teacher who always looked out for us. The fact she was hot and also taught me piano lessons was simply a bonus...hey, I said bonus, mkay? ;)

Boni said...

I remember Ms. Szolek and I'm pretty sure she gave you some "bonuses":)

A Soldier's Wife..... said...

I have been thinking of you and hoping things were looking up for you.

You have more strength inside to endure this then you know Boni, you can heal from this, trust me.


Saipan Patricia said...

I cried when I read this. Know that I am praying for you and your family...