It’s often easy to underestimate how difficult a divorce can be on children even years later.
My older son is still dealing with the trauma that came from his father and I divorcing. Sometimes, he has anxiety. It can be triggered by some incident or event and we start from square one, trying to unravel what happened and figuring out what to do to help him. This time, strangely enough, he was scared by Terry Fox. Maybe it was that he had one leg. Maybe it was that he got sick. I have a feeling it was the fact that he died that really put my little guy over the edge.
When I tucked my boys into bed at night the week of the Terry Fox Run, they asked all sorts of questions about things kids shouldn’t worry about: What happens if you get sick? What happens if you die? Where will we live? Who will take care of us?
I go to great measures to say all the right things, to take their worries off their shoulders. But they still follow me around the house, even into the bathroom. They are afraid of being left alone. They have trouble sleeping. They call for me at night. It gets very overwhelming for me. I want them to be happy and worry free. This just doesn’t seem right and I really don’t know what to do about it. But I will figure it out. Just last night, my younger son, Josh, came to me with what I consider a light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel.
Josh came home from school today and he told me that his teacher’s parents were divorced, too.
“How do you know?” I asked. It seemed like a pretty big thing for an SK teacher to tell a five-year-old.
“Well, I made a birthday card for daddy and she said I could give it to him when he gets home tonight and so I said no I can’t because I live mostly with my mommy. So she said her parents were divorced too.”
I was stunned. He had a special moment with his teacher where he got to tell someone about his life and she understood.
This really does mean the world to me. His teacher may never know how much this moment meant, but it was really important. I think it normalized the situation for Josh. It made him feel like he’s not the only one whose parents live in two houses. It touched me so deeply that I want to cry writing this post. The birthday card is still sitting on my kitchen counter a week later, but soon enough, Josh will get to give it to his dad who has been travelling.
So thank you to all the teachers who take the time to talk to our kids. Thank you for sympathizing, understanding and sharing your secrets. And, above all else, thank you for having my kid’s best interest in mind.