“Mommy, why can’t you and Daddy live in the same house again?”
My boy asked that one afternoon after I picked him up from school, and it threw me off completely. He spent a week living with his father while I tried to chase a dream in Bali. After a few deep breaths, I finally told him, “Because Mommy and Daddy are divorced, Alex.” Then I asked him to sit next to me.
“Do you remember what divorce means?” as I gently stroked his hair.
“No…,” he said flatly.
“It means Mommy and Daddy decided to go our own way. To not be married and live together anymore doesn’t mean we stop loving you.” I told him. “It means now you have two homes.”
“And you will marry Oom Dan?” I could almost see his brain trying to connect the dots.
“Yes, Alex, just like Daddy is now married to Tante. Maybe one day I will get married too.”
He smiled and said, “Okay, so I will have two Daddies and two Mommies?!”
“Yes, you will! Aren’t you lucky to have 2 Daddies and 2 Mommies that love you?”
“Alex, it’s okay to feel that way, to want Daddy and Mommy to be together again. That’s normal. There is nothing wrong with that.”
He got up and started playing with his Lego as if he hadn’t just asked me such a big question.
I sat with his question for a while and discussed it with Dan. Before I moved to Bali, he asked me similar yet more profound questions as he cried in my arms. He was truly heartbroken, and my heart ached for him. Being the only boy in the class whose mother and father are divorced must be hard. To see his friends show up with their parents for school activities must have been difficult to understand for Alex.
He realizes he is different…
But it is up to me, as his mother, to show him that being different is more than okay! To guide him to look at his situation from another point of view. Instead of “Oh, I am a product of a broken home.” Into “I have two families that love me so much.”
How will I do that? By working closely with his father, my family, and his teachers. I don’t have all the formulas figured out just yet.
It will take time and patience…
He is only seven years old.
This is where his father and I need to be a team in helping him cope and even thrive despite his different life compared to his classmates.
Thankfully his father and I have reached a new level of co-parenting lately. We both want him to have a great life and to grow up to be a healthy, well-mannered boy, and we both realize we need to be a team despite our circumstances.
We continue to discuss different ways to discipline and bring him up openly. This is something I have been struggling with. Most people don’t have little idea how hard it is to be the one who has to discipline him solely.
My boy is struggling and needs his father’s guidance too.
I am so grateful that his father has recently been more involved. We communicate almost daily now. We agreed that Alex needs to know what to expect. He needs structure. We worked out a schedule to allow him to spend more time with his father.
We have some challenges too in school that we are still dealing with. Behavioral issues…I asked the teacher to uphold discipline despite his ‘sad story’ of being a child of divorced parents. It should not be used as an excuse not to do any school work. His teacher felt deeply sorry for him. She almost cried when Alex told her he was living with his father. His teacher nearly gasped in horror when I told her I planned to return to work full-time. The school counselor said his behavior has improved significantly since I quit working a few months ago, but I need to return to work.
Being a single mom is hard enough. Being a child of divorced parents is difficult. It has been quite a challenging few months.
“When his love tank is full, he will not care much. He just wants to feel loved.” Said a friend.
Then it hits me. That is why he could easily walk away after we discussed why his parents couldn’t live together anymore.
His love tank was full!
He feels loved. He feels heard. His concerns were addressed. He was satisfied.
My heart feels full of love.