One of my biggest fears when I got divorced was what it would do to my relationship with my kids. I felt like I was in constant competition with their dad who had all the money he needed while my best friend was literally taking me to the grocery store to buy food and my rent was late pretty much every single month (so many checks were lost in the mail. Crazy, I know).
The first Christmas post-divorce was the hardest. Their dad bought them Playstations and iPhones, iPods and brand new bedroom sets. There were clothes and toys and all the things. Meanwhile, my debit card was declined at Walmart and I left in tears because I didn’t know how I was going to buy a single Christmas gift. That year they each got pajamas (a Christmas tradition that started the year the first one was born), a book and a board game. I’m sure it was disappointing coming to mom’s house to find three small gifts after an Oprah-like morning at their dad’s but I’ll never forget when my daughter said to me, “Mom, I know it wasn’t much but it meant the most because you put a lot of thought into and worked hard for us.”
That moment quickly reminded me of what I had told myself all along but lost sight of in the struggle of life – it’s going to be harder than hell but one day they will realize how hard I worked and they will absolutely know that relationships and love are more than material things.
They know I am their safe place and can always talk to me. We have real talks – about friends and school, people they like, sex and suicide, dreams for the future and their fears. They understand that real conversations that matter. They know grace and they know God. They know it’s okay to fail. They’re seeing, first-hand, a woman who has given up a lot and fought for more. They are witnessing a happy, healthy relationship. One that isn’t perfect or without conflict, but one that is committed to resolving issues through love and communication.
There are so many days someone is mad at me because I’ve said no, again. There are moods and hormones. There are days we’re all out of sync and nothing goes right. Sometimes I have zero tolerance for the crap. But we still eat dinner together almost every night (sorry not sorry it’s not mac and cheese, ya little weirdos). And Sunday dinners are a must in our home. We pray together. We show gratitude for each other and for the simple gifts in our lives. We love hard and we love well.
We’ve come a long way since that first Christmas. And while I can provide more than three gifts these days, the best ones I’ll ever give them are the ones that continue to teach them about love and grace. We have found our way and I am so very grateful for that. I am their home and they are mine.