By Bethany Parker
There are things I didn’t know about marriage, babies, children and then divorce until they applied to me in real life.
Now there’s the blended family deal and once again, experience is a cruel teacher. Some call it baptism by fire. So far the ride has been relatively smooth and the massive amounts of preparation we put into this have paid great dividends. There are some things that books and counseling and even old fashioned common sense can help you prepare for, like enough space for everyone in the bathroom, school morning routines, visitation and custody scheduling, household chores and expectations, division of “labor” among the two adults, and so on. But there are some things no textbook, counselor or online quiz can prepare you for. Today, one of those things reached up and slapped me right between the eyes.
Today, just I peeked out the master bedroom window and watched him playing with his son in the pool. A 16-years-old laughing and splashing with his dad, surly teenage angst pushed aside just far enough to let himself show through. His dad’s face lit up with love for his youngest child, nothing to do but be together in the backyard on a Sunday afternoon.
If I could put into words what my heart experiences when I watch Scott with his own children, I’d be rich. If I could put into words how I feel when I wonder what my own children are like with their dad, I’d have my own short story series. There are no words for this not knowing. There are no words for knowing what the relationship between Scott and his son looks like but knowing almost nothing about what goes on between the three children I’m raising and their biological father.
I never see them play together, never hear them talk about the silly things, the sad things, the big and important, the mundane or the life changing. I never watch them wrestle anymore or hear them discuss what to plant in the garden. I hear one-sided 5 minute phone calls where they tell him bits and pieces of their day or see them make faces at him over a Skype call, but that’s such a distance from the daily, in-person nuances of a relationship that I have long ceased to have any involvement in.
After these six weeks here, I find myself considering if my children see this, if they see me watching. It’s almost painful to realize that I’ll never know those moments of experiencing my children with their father. Being the only person I know who loves my children this intensely, this fiercely, this powerfully, isn’t new. Knowing that I will never be a part of the life they have with their father isn’t new either. Having someone else’s father/son relationship in my life on a daily basis now shows me every day what I’m missing. And regardless of the bad blood between us, regardless of how I feel about him, I’ll never see another adult look at my children the way I see him look at his child, and I wasn’t ready to know that.
Bethany Parker, a frequent contributor to Chambanamoms.com, is mom to the three wilds who, despite all of their recent growing up, still manage to leave Legos where she steps on them barefoot, marbles in their pants pockets and various food wrappers on the floor of the car.