Don’t cry. Just hold on. Heart, please don’t break yet…
Leaving for their first weekend away with their dad, I hugged my little ones goodbye. Breathing in his sweet baby smell, I gave my littlest one’s silky head an extra nuzzle. I gently wiped a tear from my oldest son’s soft cheek. I held my middle guy as he gripped me tightly, refusing to let go. Prying his little arms from around my neck, and looking into his confused and hurting eyes was too much to bear.
“Mommy! I want Mommy!” they cried.
Hang on…Don’t let them see you cry. Don’t let him see you cry.
“Goodbye, boys! I’ll miss you! I love you, too! Bye! Bye!”
I’m so sorry, boys…
I went inside and shut the door.
No little boys playfully wrestling in the living room. No roly-poly baby crawling over to me for a snuggle. No giggles. No silly boy noises.
I sat on the couch and curled up into a ball.
I couldn’t erase the image in my mind of my little ones reaching out for me as they were being put into the car.
I broke. I no longer had the strength to hold back my own tears.
“Allow yourself to feel sad,” my counselor had advised. “You take care of everyone else. Don’t ignore your own feelings.”
The emotional storm that had raged over the last year wasn’t finished with me yet. There was an agony for my boys’ pain and inability to wrap their little heads around what was happening. Anger at my ex for what he did to break our little family. Relief that I was no longer under the vice-grip of his control. Gratefulness for the healing and strength that had arisen over the last few months.
I let myself ease through all of those emotions, one after another – and back again, before I lifted my head and tried to steady my ragged breathing.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
I wiped away my tears, and I let myself unfold out of my protective ball.
Healing and strength.
This day had been long in coming, and I had given quite a bit of thought to how I would get through these first few weekend visitations alone. I had acknowledged and leaned into my emotions, and now I was as ready as I would ever be.
I took one more look around the room, the family room covered in a wood paneling that my ex had refused to let me paint before, the room that would be my life support this weekend. I struggled, but I was able to move all of the heavy furniture into the middle of the room. This would be my fresh start. My clean canvas. My declaration of independence.
It was time to paint.
As the first strokes of primer went up on the wall, the heart that had been broken in this very room was tenderly being nursed back to health. Priming and painting the large room took the whole weekend, and there were a few more tears, but I learned some interesting things about myself along the way – things that you can only discover about yourself while surrounded in the quiet solitude of an empty house.
The boys came home at the end of the weekend, and I had never been more relieved to see them. After I had tucked each of them into bed, and kissed them goodnight, I went back to gaze at my beautiful new family room. I decided to paint the adjoining kitchen in two weeks, the next time that my wee ones would be gone overnight. The soft gray color felt so warm, so pure, and so comforting to my weary heart. I couldn’t help but notice how this refreshed room mirrored what was happening in my own life.
The ugly and painful scars of the past would always be there, lingering just beneath the surface, but the soothing balm of a quiet strength was being brushed over those hurts, and would lovingly cover those scars forever.
~ Parenting After Divorce ~
~ Our Story ~
~ Photo is courtesy of Joanne Funk
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