Update: This post was written in my journal and old blog (lifewithoutmykids.com) years ago. I’ve moved it here and still share it because I know you’re feeling or have felt the same emotions and frustrations.
My ex-husband, his wife and I have since reconciled our friendship. Like, we’re literally friends now and, even though not specifically prayed for and definitely not expected – it’s one of the greatest miracles I’ve experienced throughout my journey. We no longer hold any anger or resentment towards each other. Forgiveness is truly free. So please keep that in mind as you read this post.
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You know how it is when you have young children and you want a night out, just you by yourself or you with your significant other? How you long to just have a few moments of peace and quiet, complete with no screaming, no headaches, no dirty faces or hands, no hundred trips to the bathroom, etc.?
You get all prettied up, put on your best attire, plan every detail and think of how wonderful it’s going to be. How long you’ve waited for this very moment. It doesn’t come around very often but when it does, it’s extra special.
You get all giddy inside, just daydreaming of all the fun you will have and the conversations you can finally complete without being smacked upside the head with a toy or peed on by 2-1/2 foot tall squirter.
You’ve prepared the babysitter, the meal, set their jammies on the bed, left pages of instructions, and multiples numbers to reach you – you know, just in case. You have said your goodbyes and shared hugs and kisses generously. You communicate assurance to them as their eyes full of apprehension scan you intently. You calm their fears and shower them with words of love and approval.
Your little miss insists that you take her dollie, so you will be safe. And your little boy.. well, he’s had enough of the cuddles so he just gives you a high-five and runs.
You are the apple of their eyes, and vice versa.
You turn to walk away, take a few steps, look behind you, smile and wave, take a few more steps, and look back. You start to wave again but this time your hand involuntarily makes its way to your cheek to wipe your tears. Your heart swells with such sweet and profound pleasure as you see their little bodies framing the window. Their eyes are wide and smiles are bright, and you wonder how much closer to euphoria can you get.
You get into the car, sink into your seat and to try to relish this rare moment. You do just that, but only for a moment. The extreme quietness takes you by surprise. The empty seats that catch your eye deliver more tears to your already moistened cheeks. You slowly make your way back to reality, breathe a breath of fresh air and sigh, thanking God for your perfect gifts.
And you’re off.. Off to enjoy date night.
Regardless of how often you do this or you don’t, you never forget how warm and fuzzy you felt during last that embrace. The tinglies never go away.
You can’t help it, you’re in love – completely infatuated with every part of their being.
After all.. they are your children. They are the greatest joy that you have ever received on this side of heaven. They have the ability to turn your frowns upside down and bring sunshine to your dreary days.
Their toothless smiles beam at the forefront of your heart, never failing to make it skip a beat. All you hear are their little voice tinglies; they’re constantly talking to you. You’re reminded how their hands bring such softness and warmth, making you never want to let go. The pitter-patter of little feet and water splashing in the tub… the sounds of parenthood, the sounds of unconditional love, the sounds of pure, innocent souls.
You’ve come to really enjoy these moments for they are so few and far between. Your little bundles of joy are sitting at home with a babysitter, doing new things, watching TV they have never watched, eating candy and ice cream, and you know.. getting away with everything. You know what I’m talking about, right? Life couldn’t be better. It really couldn’t. And what makes it even better is knowing that in just a little while you get to come home to those very same screaming kids with toys on the floor, teeth not brushed, faces not wiped, and all jacked up on sugar. But you don’t care.
As you walk through the door, they jump you like bears on honey. They squeal in delight and lavish you with high-pitched giggles, tightly squeezed hugs, and slobbery kisses. Their words are overflowing with excitement as they race to see who can say the most in the quickest amount of time, all the while ensuring they are screaming as loud as they can.
You think to yourself how wonderful it is to be back in their arms, securely and unconditionally. This is the life. Nothing else remains…
I once enjoyed those moments, although not too often. Even while married, my time alone was very rare. My kids and I were glued to each other, and that’s the way I liked it. It was my pleasure to be attached to them. They were my blessings, my sense of fulfillment. My sunshine through the constant rain, and they still are.
But times are different. Now, I don’t get to see my children. Now, I don’t get to talk to them. I don’t get to enjoy their laughter, their smiles, their bright eyes, or even their tears. I can’t be there to tuck them in at night, or to cuddle them during a thunderstorm. I don’t get the pleasure of reading to them, kissing their boo-boo’s, or running my fingers through their thick heads of hair. I don’t get to hear their giggles, or savor their toothless smiles. I don’t get to feel the warmth of their touch or hold tightly to their little hands. I don’t get to give them high-fives as they do good on a test or make the honor roll. I don’t get to smile and wave to them as I walk out the door for my own adult time.
As I get in my car, the tears don’t stop. There is no sigh of relief, as I see two empty seats staring at me. As I tuck myself in at night, the tears don’t stop. As I think about the last 3-1/2 years, the tears don’t stop. As I treasure the few handfuls of pictures I do have of them, the tears don’t stop. And, like you, I hear the voices, too. But mine are only memories; memories that bring joy coupled with heartache.
I wonder what I did that was so wrong. I wonder what I did to deserve this. But I know better. I can’t control the choices of a man who has so violently taken their children from their mother. I can only control my reactions.
It’s not easy being patient, and honestly it’s not easy trusting God, either. It’s harder than you could ever imagine. Because I want to control my circumstances. I want to fight. I want to finally ‘win’ something. I want to be a part of my boys’ life, without the ex controlling every move I make. I want him to ‘lose’ at something, to feel the sting of defeat as much as I have. I want him to feel every pain I have felt, to feel every heartbreak. I want him to cry every tear I have cried. I want him to endure sleepless nights praying and pleading for his children and the emptiness he feels when he can’t hear their voices in real time. I want him to know what it feels like to long for his child, and to love his child so unconditionally that he would do whatever it took to make sure their needs are met, even if that meant relinquishing control.
On the other hand, I don’t wish that pain on anyone, even the very man that treats me with such disrespect and hatred. As hard as it is, I still like the man. I have to. He is the father of my children, the man I was with for 9 years.