The Choice

by Sue Stearns
Originally Published: 

I have been a single parent for four months now. Since September 16th, 2013 to be exact. One of the hardest parts of this transition for me has been to field the never-ending questions from my four-year-old daughter, Minka. Fortunately, my one-year-old son, Cooper, is still little enough that he doesn’t ask questions; the extent of his confusion so far can be calmed with some extra hugs and a consistent nap routine.

One night, Minka was up crying for her dad and I was trying to hold myself together as I hugged her, quietly wiping my own tears away, and trying to explain that he still loves her gobs… he just made a bad choice not to be in our family anymore. I often don’t know how to explain to such a little person the issues that we as adults can’t even understand ourselves.

It has been four months since my marriage ended and I still cry almost every night and find myself going over her questions and trying to come up with answers to them. It is so hard to hold my kids together when I feel like I am broken into a million pieces myself. How do I hold my family, my job, my schooling, my friends, my social life… how do I hold it all together when I can’t even summon the strength some days to take a single step? It’s so hard to have patience, speak in a calm voice, give gentle warnings and do the mommy duties of the days when all I want to do it scream or hideout from reality.

It’s what I struggle with the most…

Taking it one day at a time.

Taking it one hour at a time.

One. Minute. At. A. Time.

When I look at my kids, especially Cooper, I see their dad. The way his and my Cooper’s eyes turn from blue to a dark grey when they are catching a cold, the shape of Coop and Minka’s ears that are identical to their father’s, and the sweet tooth that he passed down to Minka due to many nights watching cartoons and eating candy together. His blood runs through them. And so does mine.

Someday, they will ask questions and they will be mature enough to hear the answers. And when that day comes, I want to be able to speak truth to them in love. The only way I can do that is if I speak love and truth to them now. Show them love in my actions, speak love to them with my words, and demonstrate love to them in the way that I speak of their Dad. This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life… not letting anger cement itself into the cracks of my broken heart.

Loving my kids more than I love holding onto bitterness is a choice.

It’s a choice I choose – and many days I fail – to make everyday. Every hour. Every minute.

There are so many times when they are sick, when they are grumpy, when they are whining in the middle of the night… so many opportunities to speak anger because I am tired, exhausted, and angry that their dad doesn’t have to pull any long days or nights with two toddlers. But then I look at them and remember that they feel the same confusion, sadness, and anger that I feel. I try and acknowledge the anger and crap of the situation while embracing the overwhelming grace in the knowledge that they are the most beautiful part of my world.

So, I love them. I say nothing and just simply hold them when they cry. Hold them when there are dishes stacked in the sink because I haven’t had the motivation to clean up from the day, hold them when they are crying and it’s an hour past bedtime and all you want to do is go chill in front of the TV, hold them when I don’t know what else to hang on to. Hold on, and let the anger, the bitterness, the fear, and the anxiety go.

My prayer is that I take the time to open my fists, let my anger and hurt hit the floor, and wrap my arms around my kids in a love so strong that it soaks all the way into their being.

That’s all I can do.

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