Well, I am falling in love. It’s with two different guys. I know. It’s crazy, but it gets even crazier. They are only six and three. They are my two sons,and they are amazing.
For the entirety of their lives, I have worked full-time. After each of them was born, I enjoyed an eight week respite from my job, and then I went back to work. My ex-husband quit his job one week after the birth of our first son, and he played the role of stay-at-home dad. I am a teacher, so I always had summers off with them. During the year, I would leave for work at 6:00 and I would not get home until about 5:00 pm. The hour long commute each way did not seem like a big deal when I first started working. After I had my children, it felt like a lifetime.
Though I always valued my summers, my ex was home, too. I never seemed to have a place. My husband was the primary care giver. He was the one they ran to when they fell. He was the one they went to when they wanted apple juice. I had to figure a way to shimmy my way into the threesome, and I was always successful, but then the calendar would show that it was August. I would once again be forced into the role of bread winner, and every morning I would drive away before the sun and my boys were even awake.
It was difficult to experience this gain and loss every year. I think I built barriers to protect myself from it. I loved when my ex would send me pictures of the boys, but each photo saddened me a bit. One image of my son’s backpack as he walked into his kindergarten class for the first time, another of my younger son sitting on the potty, the three of them in a park on a beautiful fall day. I was always happy that they had their father. I was glad that it was not a stranger we hired, but selfishly, I wanted to be with them.
My ex was forced to get a job. He did not want to go back to work. He was quite content to live out the remainder of his days unemployed. It was the divorce that forced the reality. Now the proverbial shoe is on the other foot. He gets up early in the morning, drinks his coffee, and drives off to work while the boys are still in bed. I am the one sitting in my pj’s, waiting for them. Now I get to dress them in the morning and kiss their soft little heads while they eat their breakfast. It is helping me to heal.
The other day we were at the pool. One of my six-year-old’s friends (a girl) was being treated meanly by another little girl. She was crying next to me as she retold me the cruel words. My six-year-old stood next to her, too, in a protective way.
“Are you all right?” He asked her as he gently placed a hand on her shoulder. She looked at him and nodded. “She was really mean to you. What did she say?” His voice sounded so adult, so mature.
“She said she didn’t want to play with me, She told me to go away,” she said. He looked at her and he crinkled his nose to his forehead. This is the look he gets when he is thinking and still confused.
“Well, it’s ok, Becca. We’ll play together. Come on,” and he started to run off in the direction of the big pool. He looked back once to make sure she was following. When he saw that she was, he smiled and ran a bit faster. As I turned back, my three year old was standing by my legs. He had a water-filled bucket.
“Momma, can I pour this on your legs?” I nodded. “It’s cold, Momma,” he said just to make sure I understood.
“It’s okay, baby. Go ahead.” Giggling he poured the water on me and filled the bucket again for another go. My eyes welled with tears as love filled my heart. It sounds so cliche, but is exactly how it felt. These feelings of love for my boys were not new, but the depth and fullness of this love really is. This pause in my life that is allowing me to have this unadulterated time with my sons is a blessing that cannot really be defined by words, but it is the most amazing time in my life.