Parenting is never easy. Divorced parenting is even more difficult, even when your child is essentially grown and in college. It’s been three years since I split from Scott. Three years since I sat on the sofa and told him I didn’t want to be married any longer, that we don’t work anymore. Three years since we told our son that we were getting a divorce. Three years since I saw that hurt on Juston’s face shutter with an expression of no emotion.
So much has changed in three years, it’s hard to fathom. My home now belongs to my ex and is all but a memory. The gardens and landscaping I toiled over year after year no longer matters. My dream kitchen that I painstakingly hand selected the tile, cabinets, flooring, and granite countertops over a period of months, is no longer mine. I’m now a visitor in a place that used to be my home. I’ve moved twice since I left, all in an attempt to find somewhere to call home. I’m still a work in progress.
When I divorced I knew I couldn’t afford the house. I also didn’t want my ex-husband to not have anything to show for all his years of working and paying on the house, so I moved out. Juston stayed with his dad, as he should have. The most painful thing I have ever had to do was leave my son. Juston was 17, soon to be 18, but I wasn’t going to make him leave his home, the only home he remembers. He graduated from high school a couple weeks prior and was getting ready for college. I thought it would be good for Scott if Juston stayed with him. They would be good roommates. Unfortunately, this meant that I didn’t see him as much as his dad. Early on, there were days where I had huge regrets and wished I had kept the house, and other days where I had regrets but knew it was the best decision.
I’ll be honest, many tears have been shed over the last three years. No person gets married thinking that it’s going to end. Sadly, marriages do end. Sometimes it’s because you’ve grown apart or because you’re existing together. Sometimes it’s because your partner is not a nice person and treats you poorly. I was one of the lucky ones. Scott is a good guy, he’s just not my good guy.
We’ll always be connected because of Juston. I will always love him and wish him nothing but the happiness. <Cue Whitney Houston…> I’m not trying to be funny. I genuinely want the best for Scott. Of course there are many casualties in divorce, but the biggest casualty is the effect on your child. Scott and I worked very hard to raise Juston to be strong and independent. In fact, this is the main reason we grew apart. All of our time and energy was dedicated to raising him that we never (or almost never) made time to work on our relationship. You cannot be in a relationship and not put your spouse first. It will never work. I don’t mean ignore your kid or don’t parent them, of course. What I mean is the most important relationship is between you and your spouse. Everything else will fall into place if you put that relationship first. We didn’t do that. Ever. When it came close to Juston’s senior year I realized that I didn’t want to wake up in forty years wondering why I stayed. We went to counseling, at my request. By then it was too late.
It’s been three years since I left. Three years since I haven’t spent every day with Juston. Three years since Juston started college. We see each other even less now than that first year. Today it’s been twelve days since I’ve laid eyes on him. Those days are a gift. It’s a little different this time. He’s 21 now. Surely not a child any longer, but a grown man. Where did the time go? I question my parenting every day. Did I do the right thing? What could I have done differently? Is he ready to be on his own? Did I fail him in some way? Our visits have gotten better in the last three years. I know he was angry with me. He’s my child, I know these things. He would never talk about the divorce, instead choosing silence. At first we had weekly meals together. Sometimes they were good, sometimes not so much.
Last Christmas was the first time he’s come back home on a break where we’ve spent a lot of time together and I didn’t felt like he’d rather be somewhere else. Anywhere else but with me.
We’ve turned a corner in our relationship. It was a bumpy road for a while, but it seems to be smoothed out now. Our trip to Italy helped. We spent two full weeks together sharing meals and experiences in a place we both longed to visit. I’m hopeful it will only get better from here.