On Sunday, my big boy leaves for his summer visit with his bio-dad. On Friday, his stepmom arrives to pick him up. She'll hang with us a bit, and on Saturday we'll all head up to the science museum in Denver. After dinner we will say goodbye to him there, because they have to leave from Denver airport very early the next morning so they will be getting a hotel in the city the night before.
He'll be six in August, and he becomes more and more aware of these separations all the time. He realizes that he will miss things that we are doing. He realizes that he will miss us. He knows how long it is and he is becoming truly aware of time and it's passage. This is not the first trip where we have seen the impending separation affecting him, but it's the first time he has expressed it so clearly and viscerally.
My ex and I have a very effective co-parenting relationship, for the record. TJ's pain in this situation doesn't come from any guilt trips, or being put in the middle, or being pulled between us. In fact, his sadness highlights an underlying truth of divorce - it's hard on your kids no matter how nice you are about it. No matter how happy your new family is, no matter how supportive and available you are, no matter how much love you pour into them. Divorce hurts kids, and it continues to do so in some way for their whole life. Even if they look back on their upbringing in great joy, there will always be a mingling loss of holidays with one parent and set of siblings missing, shuffling back and forth, not being able to have all the people you love in one spot like most kids do. How much worse, then, when the parents can't get along!
Before every trip I can see a huge difference in his behavior and outlook. I can see the stress affecting him for about three weeks before he leaves. He becomes more scattered, more touchy, and he acts up more. It pains me so much. This time he added a new twist... he spent about 45 minutes before bed, one evening, begging me not to make him go. Oh God, that was the hardest conversation I've ever had to date. I just wanted to say "Yes! Whatever you want to be happy. I won't do anything to make you so sad!" but I couldn't.
There are a lot of sucky parts to being in a blended family. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of great parts to my family, too. I would never trade my husband and my kids for anything. I love my life, there are just a lot of hard things I wish we could all skip over. Sigh. I just have to keep believing that God can heal my son's heart (and my own) and bring peace to his little mind.