Forty years ago today, I said, “I do,” completely disregarding the little voice in the back of my head screaming, “Say NO, say NO.” Those of you who have read my blog accounts of life with my first ex know that it was not exactly a match made in heaven, although, I have never considered it a “mistake,” since I got two amazing children as a result of that union. As I was chatting online with my younger son this morning, I asked him if he thought I should have more of a reaction to this anniversary than, “Oh, yeah, that happened on this day. zzzzz…” His response was classic. “Well, no. It’s been so long since he mattered.” More than 19 years ago, he disappeared and has had no contact since. But this isn’t about that.
This is about how when the patchwork of your life unravels, you do your best to stitch it back together. You start with a few small stitches. You find out very quickly the things that are truly important, as opposed to what your perceptions are. You worry about your kids, and how they will grow up without a father, but you try your best to be both mom and dad to them, and let them know how much you care, how much you love them.
The stitches become more varied, more complex and the number increases. You establish routines to help you get through the hours, sometimes the minutes, while your life seems out of control and chaos rules. You learn to make the most of your resources, your time, your energy and your money. You try to instill in your kids the value of always doing the right thing, just because it’s the right thing to do, and that “being good is its own reward” (every time I heard that growing up, I wanted to puke!). You do your best to teach them to be kind, to be generous of spirit, to respect themselves and others, but mostly, you try to teach them how to love and to be loved. That is sometimes the hardest part. Dad wants nothing to do with them, so therefore, they must not be worthy of love. Wrong.
One day, 40 years later, you pull out your patchwork and examine all of your handiwork. Your kids are grown and thriving, happy in their adult lives. You have close, loving relationships with each of them; they are kind, generous, bright, and confident. They thank you for being you, for having rules when they were growing up, for allowing them the opportunities to learn from their mistakes, for letting them experience the world with the remarkable sense of wonder that we too often lose as we leave childhood behind. You are reminded on this day that what began 40 years ago was no mistake, and you are grateful for that patchwork that you’ve stitched together so many times when things have unraveled.
As you run your finger over the stitches, you appreciate anew each and every one of them. You bear your ex no ill will; in fact, you are grateful that he chose to disappear and allow you to raise your children in a loving home, instead of one filled with rage, disrespect and abuse.
And when you think of it, you are especially grateful to the woman he married later, who preferred horses to children, all but eliminating the possibility of his ever reproducing again.