When I was pregnant with Dedrick, if someone had told me then that he would someday break my heart, I would have never believed it. How could this perfect little miracle kicking playfully inside me ever hurt me? This little person who makes my heart feel three times bigger. I could just FEEL his good intentions and kind heart growing inside me.
But there it is. Seven years later his little voice streams through my phone.
“Mommy, I want to live with my Dad.”
And my heart shatters.
It’s been two weeks. The longest I’ve ever been away from my son. I feel empty and hollow. I see him everywhere. Every experience I have goes through a filter of things Dedrick would like or not like. When I wake up in the morning, I see the dog posted outside his door. I want to fall in beside her and wait by his door too. Hoping that he will appear. I tap her on the muzzle. I miss him too, dog.
I’ve waited with bright anticipation for this phone call. As the hour of our “appointment” draws closer, I feel like a 13-year-old girl waiting for the boy she likes to invite her to the school dance. And he calls and his voice sings through the phone happy and clear. He is having a great time and I’m so freaking happy for him. He is swimming and learning baseball and eating sugar cereal. Then his comment wallops me with one swift traitorous smack.
But in all reality, who can blame him? Our life is all schedules and school and healthy foods. His time with his Dad is all water parks and Disney Land and junk food. We, of course, do the fun stuff too, but it blends in so seamlessly to everyday life for a 7-year-old. Not like the shiny beacons of parties and video games and candy that are his visits with his Dad.
I get it. But this understanding just doesn’t seem to help it hurt any less.
I feel like I have lost this “divorce.” It was never my intention to have our split become a competition. Somewhere deep inside me, I always believed that once the wounds of the breakup had healed, we would all be happier and so relieved to be living better lives that we would be generous with one another in our co-parenting.
I thought that once we had escaped from the shackles of an unhealthy relationship and had both found love again, we would just come together as one big family for our son. How lucky is Dedrick that he has more people in his life to love and support him?!
But this has not happened.
Instead, each visit culminates in a list of accusations hurled at me and squirreled away by my ex to use against me “in court” that leave me feeling raw and defensive.
Dedrick says that you never pay attention to him.
You don’t send him with cool clothes.
He doesn’t have the right haircut.
Dedrick doesn’t walk on the lines on the sidewalk and that is a sign of abuse.
Dedrick says you lock in him the closet for his timeouts.
For heaven’s sake! I want to scream and shout and get on the next plane to Arizona and get my son back and sort this out. I want to defend myself. I want to get my shovel and start digging up my own dirt to drag my ex through, and believe me, I have plenty of dirt. You can’t have the intimacy of marriage and divorce without a whole walk-in closet full of dirt. I want my own list!
I equally want to gauge his eyes out with my thumbs and sit down face to face and have a heart-to-heart conversation. Doesn’t he see how ridiculous this all is? I want to ask my son why he has said these things. But then again, I can’t be sure he really HAS said these things.
And when it comes right down to it, I don’t want to fight. I want to forgive.
When you put down your weapons and open your heart, the person coming at you swinging wildly just looks crazy. When you choose not to fight – or even defend yourself – against someone who is launching an attack on you, the only thing left to do is forgive.
Larry, I forgive you for trying to pit my son against me. I forgive you for making your list of lies and faults. Thank you for loving our son and showing him such a good time when he visits.
It must have really hurt when I left. I can see your pain inside your hate. I am sorry that I did not love you enough to stay. I loved Dedrick enough to leave. He deserves to see the best of us, and when we were together he saw me sad and defeated and small. He saw you absent, angry and detached. Forgiveness and love will win for me every time. Even with a dirty list. Even when my heart is breaking.