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.