No matter how great your kids turn out, if you’ve put them through a divorce, you will forever carry with you a little touch of guilt. Not debilitating. Not always present. Often it’s even accompanied by gratitude for the influences on your children of the new experiences, opportunities and relationships they wouldn’t have had without the divorce. Both can coexist. Whether guilt or gratitude prevails rides on how you choose to do divorce and life afterward.
When Grand Ones started joining our blended family, I turned a small room in our house into a play room. It first housed a pack-n-play and then a toddler bed on which I covered my grandkids with their daddy’s baby blanket made by his grandmother. The night light that comforted my son as an infant now comforted his children. I preserved a few of the toys he had spent hours with, in his checkerboard toy box, and the tiny hands of his children now played with and learned from them–and regularly climbed into that toy box!
But now even his children are too big for nursery rhymes and toddler toys. So today I boxed them up and hauled them away. Some will live on in the hands of my colleagues’ children or grandchildren. Some have been donated and some will live on in a landfill I’m sorry to say. (Turns out Facebook Marketplace is a happening place for children’s furniture!)
But there’s another place in which they will live. In the memories of my son and his children. And in mine.
My point? When you start cleaning out children’s bedrooms and grandchildren’s playrooms, you will be taken back through many memories. If those memories include divorce or remarriage or adoption, there will be more than just treasured toys and beloved books that surface. I revisited many moments, sweet and bittersweet. (I wonder what my now adult son would have conjured up in his mind had he been sentimental enough to want to join me in the great purge. He’s not and he didn’t!)
The Wish for Your Children
But I want to encourage you to spend some time wondering about what your children will recall when they revisit childhood artifacts and memories 10 or 20 years from now. Will they be characterized by joy or permeated with anxiety because their parents were embroiled in enduring conflict? Will you experience only very rare moments of guilt 20 years from now or mainly gratitude that you gifted your children with the freedom to be in relationship with both their parents?
Maybe those who did it perfectly never feel the slight tinge of guilt/regret years after a divorce. I wouldn’t know. But I can say as I meandered through the playroom and its contents, there was enough gratitude to make it a sweet, nostalgic “sweep and weep” session! I hope the same for you many years from now.
Wishing you wisdom,