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Friday, May 9, 2014

The Heartache of "Firsts"


It's late.

I should be in bed.

But, my child refused to sleep in her own bed tonight, and so like any good parenting expert would do...I gave in.

I always give in.

But, especially tonight.

Because tonight, I came home to a little girl who jumped into my arms proudly exclaiming,

"Look, Mommy! Look!"

It was a loose tooth.

Her very first loose tooth.

No.

My heart stopped and my eyes welled up with tears. I swallowed hard, blinked about a thousand times,  and then mustered as much excitement as a could before she realized something was wrong. I smiled, wiggled the tooth, and then I tucked her safely into my bed.

The only place that time seems to stand still even if just for a little while.

And as as she drifted off to sleep, I positioned myself on my bedroom floor right next to the bathroom light with a box of tissues and a glass of wine.

The couch just seemed too far away tonight.

*****

These are the moments you dread the most as a divorced, separated, and/or single parent. The moment when you realize that for the first time in their short little lives you might actually miss something.

Something important.

A first. 
 
For the last five years, I have been there for every single "first". 

Her first time in her crib, her first time eating cereal, her first words, her first steps, her first big girl bed, her first day of preschool, her first movie, her first sleepover, her first time at the circus, her first time swimming without her floaties...all of them. 

Every. Single. One. 

And to think that I might actually miss this...well, there aren't words for that kind of remorse. 

As her mother, it's hard not to feel like I have some kind of "right" to these moments.

 To all her "first"'s.

All those sleepless nights. All the diapers I changed. All the puke I walked around with all over my clothes. All of the dinner wars I've fought and tantrums I've policed. All the boo-boo's I've kissed and tears I've soothed. 

How can you not experience all of that and not feel some kind of entitlement to all major AND minor life moments?

The truth is: you don't.

As selfish as it sounds...there is no way as a mother NOT to feel that way.

I have been commissioned with a silent call from day one to be there for my child. It is my job to be present. To catch her when she falls and to celebrate even the tiniest victories from her first steps to her wedding day.

But sometimes when you are divorced, separated, or just a single momma sharing custody, you don't get to "be there" for all of those things.

Sure, he promises he'll call. He'll tell me the moment it happens.

I made him promise at least five times.

I could feel him rolling his eyes at me through the texts.

He still knows me too well.

Yes, that's all fine and dandy. It's sweet of him to cooperate offer. But, even with a phone call and the arrival of a tiny tooth tucked secretly in her backpack (hopefully!), it won't be the same as being there.

It just won't.

And for that...for moments just like the loose tooth...my heart aches.

These are the moments that remind you that divorce is NEVER easy.

No matter how much you get the hang of it. No matter how wonderfully you perfect the art of co-parenting with your ex. No matter how happy you are with your new life.

There will always be moments just like this that remind you that divorce hurts.

It just plain sucks.

And unfortunately that is God's way of reminding us that divorce was never the plan. That divorce is a man-made thing we've made up to make ourselves feel better. Divorce-no matter the circumstances-always carries strands of selfishness through it.

These are the consequences of selfishness.

These are the types of consequences I will deal with for the rest of my life.

Yes, I am forgiven.

Yes, I am covered in  mercy and grace.

Yes, the Lord has continued to bless me and provide for me despite my divorce.

But, that doesn't mean there aren't or will never be consequences for my actions.

Consequences that serve as steady reminders that I never, ever, ever want to go through anything like this ever again.

*****
 
I know I'll make it through this.
 
I know that the day of the very first lost tooth will come and go whether it's at my house or at her dad's.
 
I know that she still has many more "firsts" to go. Some I will experience with her. Some that I won't.
 
But, you know, a really amazing friend told me last night in the middle of my tears that all I can do right now is focus on what I CAN DO for my daughter.
 
I can love her unconditionally.
 
I can make her feel like that no matter what happens in this life she will always be my first priority.
 
I can celebrate the loose tooth.
 
And you know, who made the rule that the tooth fairy only comes to one house anyway?
 
We will survive this moment just like we have all of the others.
 
His grace and mercy are enough even for the moments when silly things like loose teeth make our heart hurt. He understands. He does.
 
And I know without a shadow of a doubt that He won't let go of my hand as I walk through this.
 
No matter how silly it may seem. 

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