When my kids’ dad declared six years ago that he ‘didn’t want to do this anymore’ I was devastated. I spent a lot of time mourning his abrupt departure from the family and when he left the home, three months after his declaration, I could finally breathe. It was at this time I realized that I had to find a new normal for the kids and for me, together as a family of now three.
Laying the foundation of how our family would function was a gradual process. Because the ex had been distancing himself for awhile, the kids were used to me being the primary parent which helped immensely. But the deepening of our relationship came only after the divorce.
While it hasn’t always been smooth sailing here, I wouldn’t trade what we’ve cultivated here. We are a very close family now, even closer than we were before the break-up and I’m grateful.
While parenting alone (because there isn’t co-parenting unfortunately) is difficult at times, there is also a richer manner in which our relationship has blossomed. There are few subjects (if any) that are verboten (off-limits) and while it’s been uncomfortable at times, I’d rather my kids feel that they can talk with me honestly instead of hiding their feelings.
My intention was for us to bond together. Luckily the kids are close in age and have bonded as brothers, each with their own unique set of strengths. When it comes to their relationship with their dad, I do not intervene. In the beginning, I tried to encourage the relationship and even went so far as to try to help them bridge the gap of how dad has changed by giving their dad the benefit of the doubt. I was thinking that it would help them to bond with him too. I didn’t talk badly about him. I encouraged time spent with him until one day I let go. Their relationship with their dad has nothing to do with me. That is their relationship, not mine. And while I am here to listen when they need to talk about it or if they ask advice, I am not involved. It was one of the best decisions I made.
Here at Chez Leeds, our bottom line is unconditional love and support. The kids have mine, they have each other’s and I have theirs. We work through problems together. I have tried to raise them to not stuff their feelings down, but instead to feel them so that they do not fester. They are strong kids with big hearts, open minds and are caring individuals. They have learned about connections, about talking through problems instead of fleeing. Honesty is key here. I keep hoping that I am helping them to be good husbands someday. Men who are comfortable in their own skin, respect all people and lead with kindness and confidence.
At least that’s my intention.