The question and night I will never forget.
In 7 years of my son’s life, I have never asked myself this question. Until now.
Sure, there are always things as parents we would go back and do differently, but I’m all about learning, growing and evolving. Parents, step parents, caretakers… The most important jobs in the world, yet the only job with no manual. Every situation and child is different, therefore we learn as we go and do what we can with the knowledge we have.
I’ve always known with complete certainty that I am an amazing mom. I am raising a respectful, honorable and amazing young man. Yet, that question crept into my mind like a thief in the night. I fell to my knees unable to comprehend this thought was in my mind.
Our family was just torn apart with no warning, communication or any kind of decency. Trying to be strong in this situation for myself is the hardest thing I have ever experienced, let alone trying to hold it together for my innocent son.
The night I had to tell my son the news that the man he loves and idolizes would not be there when he came home… Was one of the hardest nights of my life.
I will never forget the exact moment. I took him to a special spot overlooking the city and crawled into the back seat with him. I will forever remember the knots in my stomach and pain in my heart. I felt like I could feel my heart bleeding, every drop going into my stomach.
I had to tell him that the man who has been in his life for years, beside him for so many milestones… The man we made a home and family with, was no longer going to be at home. With every word I spoke his eyes swelled with tears, lips quivering, complete shock and confusion written all over his face.
He didn’t understand. Fu*k, I don’t understand. He was struggling to process how his entire world just changed and his best friend just walked out of our lives with no communication, no goodbye, nothing.
I trusted and allowed this man to come into our lives. I trusted him with my son physically, emotionally and mentally. Yet, in an instant, the man we knew so well, was a total stranger. Guilt set in. This stranger had every trait of someone I would never want in my life. The man we love became empty, shallow and soulless.
“When is he coming back?”
“But he’s my best friend mommy. Best friends don’t quit each other.”
“Is ALL his stuff gone from the house?”
“Are we still going to play Laser tag together this weekend?”
“Does he still love us?”
“Does he miss us?”
“Why wouldn’t he say goodbye?”
“But we just celebrated Father’s day together. I decorated the house and gave him presents.”
“I know he’s going to be back. He has to be. We’re a family mommy.”
“There’s no way he can just be gone Mommy. He wouldn’t do that to us.”
But he was gone, just like that. He did do that to us. Following in the footsteps of the people he said he would never be like. Using and manipulating people, then treating them as if they are disposable.
How do I explain something to my baby boy I don’t understand myself? My heart was completely broken and now I was watching my sons heart shatter into pieces. The pain he couldn’t comprehend was the pain I was still trying to process.
That was the first night I’ve ever felt anger toward the man I love. That anger faded fast though, as my unconditional love for him is the most powerful feeling I have ever felt.
I explained to my son we can never take away how this man is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to us. I acknowledged how he was so amazing to us, taught us so many life lessons and showed my son how a real man treats a woman. The love between us could be felt from outer space. The way this man simply looked at me is breathtaking. A love so intense it’s hard to comprehend. Every boy deserves to see his mommy loved that way.
I then had to look my 7 year old son in the eyes and firmly explain that even though we unconditionally love this man so much, this is not acceptable behavior of an honorable and real man.
As a boy growing into a man one day, I feel it’s so important to explain how abandoning your family is unacceptable and the wrong way to handle anything. Real men deal with things, not run from them. Men fight for their families, don’t quit them. Real men fix, not constantly replace.
This became my platform to instill how important it is use our feelings to feel and our words to communicate. My son will grow up to be a man who fights for love, not treat it disposable or use it as it’s convenient to him. It is my duty as his mommy to show him that level of love and respect.
I had to watch my son hysterically cry for hours. A cry I have never seen, and as his mother I have seen every cry. This was different. Hyperventilating, unable to speak, almost throwing up, completely not OK. We cried together and held each other. The pain I felt that night is indescribable. He stared into my eyes so hopeless, knowing this was the first thing mommy couldn’t “fix”.
Everything was different now. Our person was gone, POOF, just like that. Our man, best friend, protector and love of our life… Disappeared, out of nowhere. Replaced us like children replace their toys, just grabbing whatever next toy is in the toy box. This man of honor became a man of treating women as a revolving door.
I was struggling to function while trying to pretend to be OK for my son. There was no pretending. Anyone who saw me could see the life had been sucked out of me. I tried so hard to fake it, but I’m not good at wearing masks. I went into the bathroom to hide and cry, all the time.
I felt so abandoned and alone.
Everything changed the night my son woke up at 3am and found me on my bathroom floor in a ball, hysterically crying.
I felt so ashamed and embarrassed. I never want my son to see me like this.
He got on the floor and held me while wiping my tears. All I could say is “I’m so sorry baby.” He grabbed my face and said “Don’t be sorry Mommy. We didn’t do anything wrong.” My heart broke even more.
I couldn’t believe the strength I saw in my 7 year old son. My embarrassment turned into vulnerability.
In that moment I realized- No, I AM NOT A BAD MOM. I am a fucking amazing mom. My 7 year old son is full of so much unconditional love, loyalty, compassion, understanding and communication. While some grown men are still trying to learn what all that means, my CHILD is LIVING that way.
I will never again ask myself if I am a bad mom, and neither should you. We are all doing the best we can with what we have. We are all learning as we go. And I now realize, being a mom isn’t just about teaching our children, it’s about being open to learn from them.