Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On Birthdays and Breakups

"I don't know why [he] wouldn't want to be my Mom's boyfriend anymore because I think she's the most beautiful woman in the whole world."

Honest words spoken by my now 9 year old to his therapist, over my recent breakup with my (rebound) boyfriend.
Aside from the whole "AWWWW!" factor to his statement, it was also a glaring reminder that a follow-up conversation was needed to set some issues STRAIGHT over the how's and why's of my newly single status.
I forget that simply telling kids something ONCE, doesn't guarantee they hear me or they GET IT.
I mean, how many times do I have to tell them to brush your teeth/wash your hands/clean your room/get to bed/stop licking your brother!!! before they actually LISTEN??
(And if you leave a comment saying that YOUR kids listen the first time you ask them to do something, I will SOOOOOOO delete you!)
My son expressed sadness over this recent loss of another man in his life. And Hansel blamed himself for this breakup. It's no wonder, really, considering the last time he had seen the ex-boyfriend, we were disagreeing over his opinions on my LACK of disciplinary tactics and HIS lack of respect for me as THE parent.
Relationship over. Respect reclaimed.
Despite one of the first things I said to the kids regarding the break-up was that YOU DID NOT DO ANYTHING TO CAUSE THIS, Hansel blamed himself. And admitted to feeling sad about it.
So Hansel was told again - and again that HE wasn't to BLAME. That brownups break up for grownup reasons and not because of other people.
My son then admitted to being a little mad at the ex-boyfriend assuming that HE broke up with ME.
I set him straight on that one too.  The ex-boyfriend didn't break up with Mommy.  It was Mommy's choice, and it had nothing to do with Hansel or his sister, or any arguments they may have overheard. So he didn't need to be mad at him.
Hansel was then again reminded that the ex-boyfriend was still their friend and they would still see him.
"Oh really? Then I want him at my birthday party."
(And once again the lesson of doing what's right for the kids is tested, as it so often is when one is going through a divorce or breakup. GAH!)
And... so, there in the parking lot of my kid's therapist's office, I put my own personal feelings aside and texted the ex-boyfriend to extend the invitation from my son.
And this past Saturday, my 9 year old lived and experienced the lessons *I* have learned about divorce.
He, the son of a girl whose parents divorced at a similar age and whose Mom, Dad and Stepmom came together regularly for her own birthday and other celebrations, caught a glimpse into what divorce DOESN'T HAVE TO BE.
This year, Hansel's 9th birthday was spent surrounded by the people who meant the most to him, because we are all able to put aside our personal feelings for the sake of one child's happiness.  Some of those people included PrinceCharming, Cinderella, my ex-boyfriend, my Dad, my Mom (Dad's wife #1), my Stepmom #1 (Dad's 2nd wife, now divorced) and my Stepmom #2 (Dad's current wife). All of us smiled together, tossed water balloons, helped assemble gifts and stood shoulder-to-shoulder to watch this uniquely intuitive and sensitive child blow out the candles on his homemade icecream cake.

No, my dears. Mine ain't your average fairytale.


cassee01 said...

very heartwarming....

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is amazing that your family is able to come together for a birthday like that. I wish we were at that stage, but I don't think we ever will be. Cheers to all of you for being able to really put the kid(s) first.

Anonymous said...

Yes! How wonderful that your family can show Hansel how it should be when there's a divorce! My family was (and is) the same, and it always breaks my heart that the BM in my situation can't see hope much better it would be for my SD if we could do it for her!