The Fake Smiles We Give Our Kids During Divorce – Are We REALLY Fooling Them?
I love my kids more than life itself. And since getting divorced, I’ve worked hard to ensure they not only adjusted, but thrived.
But sometimes life circumstances have beaten me down. And my kids have seen me cry. They’ve seen me stare out the window. They’ve seen the shell of a woman named mom going through the motions. Sometimes they still do…
And I wonder: Even when we sufficiently meet our children’s basic needs, are we really fooling them?
My sense is no – we aren’t. I think they’d go without a meal if it meant having mom present in the moment with them. I think they know when our smile is false and when there’s no light in our eyes. I think it’s in our energy, it’s in our embraces, and it lingers in the house that they come home to.
I’m not saying this to make anyone feel guilty; we’re all human after all and bottom line is, life can be tough. I’m saying this because it is in our awareness of our ‘checking out,’ that we can begin to make the return trip home to be present.
I noticed it the other night when I was sitting on the couch by myself. One of my sons appeared beside me with his hockey cards. All I really wanted to do was disappear in my heavy thoughts.
But suddenly, something shifted in me: his big blue eyes drew me in. I moved into the present moment. All I saw and heard was him, this magnificent little boy, with the big blues eyes, wanting nothing more than to tell me about his hockey cards.
So I stayed there with him, in that present state, for the next half hour. Smiling, asking questions, listening, and watching him enthusiastically flip through the hockey players. This moment meant everywhere to him. Everything. He was trying to connect with me, he NEEDED to connect with me.
And he did. How did I know?
Cause he hugged me extra times that night. He didn’t want the moment to pass. He kept telling me how much he loves me; he even got up out of bed later on to say: “I just can’t sleep mom because I keep thinking about how much I love you.”
And I realized that half hour of presence with him was as vitally important as the food that I put on the table for him.. Not just to him…but to me.
And so I remind myself to be present. More often. To be more open to The Now. Even when it feels so damn hard. Cause those heavy problems that linger in my mind aren’t ‘real’ in the very moment. But the big blues eyes beseeching my attention are.