Afternoons are all pretty similar. Cease working. Pick up Lucas. Pick up Reed. Repeat.
When you drop off in the mornings you give a big hug, remind your children to please make good choices and to have a great day. Drop offs are easy these days. Picking up can sometimes present a different challenge. I always search for the teacher praying I will receive a smile in return, direct eye contact and not raised eye brows or heaven forbid an eye roll. Raised eye brows or a determined stride in your direction usually indicates that my boys haven’t had the best day and may not have made the best choices today. These days are far and few between but I still walk in with a sense of anticipation each day because they do in fact occur.
Today I get smiles at both schools. I empty their “boxes” labeled with each of their names. Their boxes are filled with tons of fantastic artwork, daily sheets and homework. A deep sigh of relief is released as we head to the car together. A good night is bound to ensue at home. Both boys are talking up a storm as they climb in their seats. I quickly flip through their papers and my throat catches. I’m stunned. My mind is whirling. A tinge of anger percolates. I am not going to cry. I am going to take a deep breath and think.
What in the world has me so upset?
Reed, our 3.5 year old has made a family tree today at school. His tree has included three branches, “Mommy, Lucas and Reed.” I am devastated. I show him his picture while I’m driving and begin a conversation that I do not want to have. “I love your tree! Who’s on your tree?” He quickly responds appropriately with mommy, Lucas and Reed. I gently ask if he wanted to include daddy. He simply stares at me in return. Lucas, our overly talkative child, chimes right in. “Why don’t you have daddy? Do you not remember him? Mom can show you pictures. He lived with us. He’s just not here right now because he died.” Silence from the other side of the car.
Where is my manual? What is the best course of action here? This is parenting 101, otherwise known as there is no damn manual. My tears stay hidden. I tell Reed I love his picture. In my head, I am screaming. I am crying and I am frustrated. The frustration is becoming more prevalent these days as the boys recognize what they are missing. As they begin to understand that their family is different than their peers. I take a deep breath, hold in the emotion and drive us home.
It is insane that their perspectives of our life can be so different. My eldest child will always include his father and anyone else that may choose to join our family. I believe my youngest child’s tree will always look the same, regardless of our situation. Part of that is the difference in their personalities but mainly it is because Reed's memories at this time are gone. He no longer remembers the most important man in a child’s life. He no longer remembers his dad. He has after all, been gone over half of his life now.
Meet the Author (me)
Driven by a need to help others. I have known from a young age that this is what I wanted to do. This is my very real, somewhat sarcastic, look into my newfound widowhood. I hope this site will help you as much as it helps me.