A loving mother walks silently down the hall of a doctor’s office, her young boy’s hand held tightly in hers. The young boy senses his mother’s tension and knows that something bad is about to happen, though he doesn’t know yet what it is. The mother is dreading what she is about to put him through as she knows it is the one thing he fears the most. But he needs it to get better, to continue growing and so that he can go back to being himself. She knows it’s not going to be pretty – he’s going to throw a fit, he’s going to make a scene and he’s going to call her terrible things. But deep down she knows what’s best for him. So she takes a deep breath, gathers up all the courage she can, looks him straight in the eye and tells him lovingly yet sternly, what’s about to happen…
“No!!!!!! You can’t do this!!! You can’t leave us. We are a FAMILY! How can you try to tear up this family?? What is wrong with you????”
“Melissa, calm down”
“Why????????? Why are you doing this to us??? I just don’t understand.”
“Because we don’t work, and you know it. We are miserable. The kids deserve two happy parents, and we will be better parents apart from each other.”
“But WHY??????? We can go to back to counseling! We can make it work. I will make it work. I will change. I promise. Just tell me what you need. I won’t let you tear up this family! ”
“Melissa, it’s already done and you know it. We are just too different and we both deserve to be happy.”
“Bullshit. You’re not a man. A real man would fight for us. A real man would go to counseling until we’ve figured it out, not run because it’s hard. Of COURSE IT’S HARD! We have an eight month old and four year old for Christ’s sake! ”
“Melissa, I’m – ”
“How can you do this????? How can you throw our whole family away like this?? What is wrong with you??”
But he holds steady. And I grow tired.
“I just don’t understand. We just had a baby. It’s hard, it’s stressful. Please don’t give up. I beg you. It will get better. I will get better, I promise.”
Strong and composed, he maintains his stance as it becomes increasingly clear that this is going to happen regardless of how hard I fight it. The look in his eyes reveals deep compassion and empathy and a hint of fear, but also a confidence that he’s doing what’s best. He’s doing this because he cares. My life as I know it is over.
My mind turns to the shocking reality of my children; I shudder and a new flood of tears silently flow as I imagine a world where I can no longer go into my precious baby boy’s room, pick him up and feel his little lashes flutter on my neck as I rock him back to sleep. His crib is empty because he’s at his daddy’s. It’s not right. My heart feels numb.
My heart feels as though it might fall through the bottom of my feet as my mind turns to a new life where I no longer hear the carefree giggles of a sweet and innocent four year old girl coming from the other room as she plays with her daddy. That’s not a home I want to live in, but suddenly this is my new reality. A world where I’m only a mom half of the time. Nine years out of eighteen…
I can’t do it. It’s impossible. It’s just not right. I can change this. I can make this work for both of us. I will fight for both of us.
But I can’t fight for both of us, I’ve tried. I can’t make it work for both us, I’ve tried that too. I have to do this. I can do it. I have to.
And I will do it with dignity and grace, because to go out kicking and screaming isn’t going to get me anywhere. I have stopped trying to stop him from ending it. Not because I want to. And not because it’s easy. But because my kids deserve it.
No more fighting, no more screaming and kicking. I know now that I am defeated.
I go to him, terrified and trembling, my body and fate falling and surrendering into his loving, trusted, comforting arms.
Slowly taking in a little more air with each breath, slowly, fewer tears…and then finally, there is silence. Stillness. For a moment I feel peace. Trust. Faith. I look up at him like the terrified little boy in the doctor’s office and ask,
“You promise it will only hurt for a little while?”
“And we’ll all be better off when it’s all done?”