When your grown children
live several states away from you, a visit from them is precious. My youngest
and his girlfriend are here with me now. Both are studying for bar exams, so I
delight in the chance to be the supportive mom to the studious.
During one of their evening
study breaks, the three of us found ourselves sitting next to one another on
the sofa, flipping through pages of photo albums from the days when adoring
parents slipped memories into plastic sleeves inside little floral covered
I noticed myself holding my
breath to hear my child’s reflections on his childhood. Did he loathe or love that
vacation? Were the annual Easter egg hunts really a ritual worth repeating? Does
he treasure the memories of his birthdays spent together, just the two of us,
like I do?
It was a mix. From time to
time a slight wave of regret washed over me. Did I work too much and play too
little? Should I have waited longer after the divorce from their dad to
introduce them to the man who would become their beloved stepfather? Should I
have tried harder and done better?
I could easily have built a
case against myself, for all of my failings as a post-divorce parent. There was
plenty of evidence. Much of it pointed to how my mind was often in other
places, rather than with my children. On the credit card debt. On problems at
the office. On what other people thought. On wanting to get on with my new
A jury could have rendered a
verdict of “Not present” when it came to judging how I sometimes showed up as a
parent after my divorce.
But I chose otherwise. I
chose to look at the bigger picture instead of the little photos revealing my
litany of imperfections as a parent. I adjusted my lens and chose instead to
look back on our life with a little perspective.
I chose to make a case for
myself for having always had good intentions when it came to being a parent: To
be a loving and supportive mom. To be there when it mattered most. To never let
my children doubt just how much I loved them.
Here was my son. Happy,
healthy, loving. Having driven hundreds of miles to see his family. In a
relationship with a beautiful woman. Having graduated from law school. Sitting
on my sofa. Laughing at pictures of family vacations from 20 years past.
With a shift of my view, the
evidence was clear and compelling.
We want the best for our
children and ourselves after a divorce. But we may lack certain skills,
experience, or wisdom for navigating a season of life which is new to us.
Still, if we are guided by our intentions to do as well as we can do with what
we do know, we will keep creating happy memories for years to come.
Time to grab my iPhone and
snap a few pictures.