As I stood on the front stoop watching my elder son leave to return to grad school this afternoon, I couldn’t help but remember the very first time my two very little boys got in the car and drove off with their father on that Saturday morning—the first visit a few weeks after our divorce nearly 30 years ago.
Nothing could fill the cavern in my heart that first empty, silent weekend. All of my hopes and dreams, the life I had envisioned for us, had long since disintegrated in the decay of our marriage, but I had my boys, and that was all that mattered. But they were gone for the weekend, and the reality of our situation washed over me in waves. I had no regrets about the divorce, nor have I ever harbored such thoughts. The knowledge that their father only grudgingly consented to visitation weighed heavily upon on my mind.
What would become of us, my little boys and me? How would we ever survive? I had no regular job, no health insurance, and for several long months, no child support. I had no family anywhere in the region and very few real friends on whom I could count. I knew one thing, though. Failure was not an option. I would do whatever it took to provide for my little family—I did freelance design work, I made and sold quilts, I cleaned other people’s toilets and whatever other work I could find until I could secure a full-time job.
After that first weekend, their father didn’t come around again for a while. It wasn’t long before the exhaustion of working so many hours, running after two small, very “busy” children, and keeping up a home overwhelmed my immune system, and I became ill with a virus that grew into pneumonia and laid me out for five months. Somehow, we survived.
Nearly two years after my divorce, I landed a job that provided health insurance and good benefits, and allowed me the flexibility to stay home with the boys when necessary. Years later when my younger son went head first over his bicycle and broke both wrists (casts from knuckles over the elbows), I took off for seven weeks to care for him and home school him. I was fortunate that I could take off that time.
They years passed so quickly. I know I made mistakes along the way, but I always did my best to be a good and loving mom. Fortunately, none of my mistakes was serious enough to have lasting consequences! Today, watching him drive off in his own vehicle, about the same age as his father when we divorced, I felt a pang, as I always do upon leaving my kids, but I was also filled with a great sense of pride in the young men who both of my boys grew up to be.
As a mom, I suppose that pang, no longer a pang of sorrow at seeing them drive off for the weekend, but one of deep love and appreciation for them, will always remain. At least, I hope it does. The old cavern in my heart overflows with joy for them.