EVERY OTHER MONDAY
The reminders that I have set on my iphone for the past seven years are like this reliable clockwork I don’t want to ever forget. Every other Monday, yes even though you are at a college now and this no longer applies, the Michael reminder shows up every Sunday night. Like I could possibly forget that this is the day you would be coming back to me after a week at Dad’s. This is the reminder that I set up to remind me of the part of divorce that is the most annoying for you as the child of parents who separated when you were in the middle of your seventh grade year.
One week on, one week off. A visitation that you actually suggested as you lugged your stuff back and forth between two homes every other week.
I can’t imagine how this must have felt for you. I imagine not very good. The only consolation was that I did my best to make sure we stayed in the same town, that you had your house to call your home, that you had two sets of mostly everything to limit the amount of stuff you had to lug and whatever didn’t have to change didn’t. This was all to keep as much semblance of normal whatever that means as is. There are lots of people who stay married for the children and live in angst that does not teach children anything other than misery and pain as the example is usually a house filled with resentment and tension. I don’t believe that anyone should stay together if they are not happy. I don’t think this environment serves children well. I think it ended up being ok in the long run, but I also know that the alternative would have not been. There are lessons in everything and I hope the lesson you gained from this decision is that everyone has a right to be fulfilled and happy in this short life we all live. Life and decisions about it are hard and though staying in a relationship that has run its course seems like a choice often made, moving on is also courageous and honorable. I hope that it taught you that at times it is necessary to make the tough decisions and tha life isn’t always easy. The white picket fence isn’t always white and sometimes it needs to be painted a different color or taken down and replaced.
There is never a good time for two parents to split, but the worst time would have been to wait for the “let’s let you graduate from high school first, time.” This I am completely comfortable with in the decision I had to make so that I could free Dad and I from the chains that bound us in a way that no longer served our souls. I knew that by making this awful at the time decision, the pain would eventually move on so that you could at least enjoy your remaining time in school and Dad and I could do our best by you to repair our relationship so we could continue to do what we did best. To parent. This was the bond after you were born, my immense love and admiration for dad’s parenting. I didn’t want to give up watching dad be a dad to you. He was great and loving, just like his dad was to him. Still is.
It is your second decade today. You are twenty. You are on your way to twenty one and this next five years so many decisions will feel urgent as you move into your life. The twenties is the figuring it out phase. Take your time. Be patient and slow. Do not rush into big bold decisions. Use your gut as your guide. Travel. Don’t take the first job that comes your way and as a matter of fact, you will be in a position to be choosy because the gift dad and I have given you is no college debt when you graduate. This is the best gift. Financial freedom so you can move forward without other darts coming at you that force you into hasty decisions. You are so lucky to have the jumping off point from two parents who love you and still love and appreciate each other, but knew well enough that we weren’t the right fit anymore and set each other free. I hope that you will one day if not now appreciate the work we have both done to ensure that you still felt the intense love and adorations for you in the midst of a painful decision we had to make so we could both find happiness in our young lives.
You have been a blessing and a joy in our lives and we have learned so much from you. I know I can speak for dad too when I say that we are the luckiest parents in the world to get the privilege of calling you our son. Divorce is not easy on children, but often it is not the divorce as much as it is the lack of camaraderie that is the result of an angry divorce. The benefit of your grandparent’s disruptive and horrible divorce was that I knew I never wanted that to be your experience, that was my jumping off point and everything I did was with that in my mind. Of course the dream would have been for Dad and I to do our best to suck it up and try to work it out, but when this became impossible, I really thought that this would be the second best alternative. At least you could understand in your young life that two people who loved each other could also still love each other enough to let each other go too. This is a grown up very mature way to consider and it is with these glasses we came to this decision. When you are a parent there are lots of times we feel guilty about decisions, maybe considering mistakes that could have negatively impacted you and your view of the world. These are the decisions that I will never know the impact of, but as a parent I know 100% of the time I made them with the end result of your health and well being in mind. It has been hard to raise you in this town of Bristol knowing that you have been surrounded with traditional families who are together and are seemingly happy. I wanted this for you more than anything, the dream of you being able to come home from college and be a unit. It just wasn’t the story. We did our best and it just wasn’t something neither dad nor I could make happen for the reasons that are not necessary to explain, but had nothing to do with you. But I am sure you know this. This is one thing I am sure of, that our separation had nothing to do with you, but with each other. I like truth. If there is ever a time you need or want to talk about anything as you move forward into your twenties and begin the path towards the career path and the relationship and parenting path that lies in front of you, I am as you must know by now an open book. I will always tell you the truth.
You are loved. You are admired and enjoyed. Dad and I are so proud of who you have become and who you will still become. I am sure we have made mistakes because this is life as a parent, I am sure there are things in your head that we have caused good and bad but what I know Michael White is that there was never a moment of ill intent. You have always been a priority between us even when we were trying to reconfigure our own lives out separately in our new state of not being together. It is my hope that you take what you need and leave the rest and I hope the part you take is the deep love and respect I feel for you as a man in our lives.
My life is enriched and more joyous with you in it. I know Dad’s life is too. We are so lucky and happy that you are the connector of the tribe we get to still call family, regardless of its construct, its on occasion awkwardness and oddness, but nonetheless it is ours. We get to always call it our home and this is the most glorious blessing I could have ever imagined for you.
Happiest of Birthdays my dear love.