I have been divorced for 16 years. I left my husband when my son was only a few months old and while it was very difficult, staying would have been harder. I knew I needed to leave and if I hung on for my son he would not have been in a happy place. In the end the marriage would be over anyway and since he was so young, I thought it would be easier for him.
Turns out I was wrong. Divorce is painful for a child. It does not matter if you are a newborn, teenager, or adult, divorce is painful. My son never saw his father and me married. I too am a child of divorce. My parents split up when I was 16. I felt like I was being pulled in a million directions and needed to pick a side but was lucky I had 3 siblings to help.
My son has no siblings and so he is on his own in the battleground of divorce. I spent a lot of years being angry with my father, which is hard for me to deal with now. Having lost my Dad to cancer, I am angry I wasted time being angry with him. I don’t want my son to ever be angry with his dad or me about our divorce. He was born into love and that matters.
This week I watched my son struggle with a decision that in his mind was about picking sides between his parents. It was very sad and my heart broke for this wonderful young man. He is only 16 years old but his life will forever be shaped by the choices I have made. He will always have two sides to deal with within his own family and that sucks.
Every important moment in his life will be tainted by the divorce of his parents. From tickets to his high school graduation, to his wedding, to where he will take his kids for the first night of Hanukkah will require him to pick a side. As a mother it is crushing to watch and I imagine depressing for him to know it may always be like this.
I have a 25 year history with his dad and while most of it is dark, the darkness is trumped by the gloriousness that it this remarkable boy. He has all the best parts of both of us and while I like to think he is just like me, he is like his dad just as much. We couldn’t build a life together, but we did create a wonderful human being together.
Our inability to get along has nothing to do with our son. We love him very much and in a perfect world we would all get along and there would be no need for him to ever feel like he needed to pick sides, but at the end of the day the world is not perfect and I don’t want to live an insincere life so I will always be honest with my son.
The decision he made this week was hard for him and in the end he was a true mensch. I am very proud of him for taking everyone’s feelings into consideration. He made a choice that he felt was fair and kind and while it was painful for him and brought him to tears, he had peace with the path he took and so for that I feel very fortunate.
Some of his choices will seem to go my way and others will not. The lesson I learned with this weeks struggle is that it does not matter whose “side” he is on. What matters is that I support my son and value the time and energy he puts into finding a balance. I can never be upset or offended by what he chooses because he is inherently kind.
I have raised my son to have a compassionate heart and a Jewish worldview. He is respectful of his parents and the people we share our lives with. He is my son, my friend, my hero and my inspiration. I have done my job well and need to now trust him. His only obligation is to himself and he will be happy if he listens to his heart, and keeps the faith.
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