I shed a tear and held back a million of them. Have you ever had a moment like that?
Maybe it was when you dropped off your son or daughter to daycare for the first time… or said good-bye on the first day of school, trying your best to show a brave face… or the first weekend with your ex spouse….or maybe when you resisted giving them a kiss as they went off to the prom with a date…or when you said "good luck" as they boarded the airplane for an exchange or to head to university… or was it when they had their first sleep over at a friend’s home… or went away to camp for the first time. I bet you’ve had more than a few of those moments.
It’s a time of mixed emotions. Fear – that your little one will need you and you won’t be there to help. Disappointment – knowing that they probably won’t need you. Sadness – of the pending silence now that they won’t be around. Pride – that you have done a good job and they are ready to be on their own.
I had one of those moments this past weekend when I dropped off my son and his girlfriend of five years at their new home thousands of miles away. My wife and I dropped them off at their new home near a ski resort in the Canadian Rockies where they will work and ski for the winter. He is 18 and she is 19 years old.
As you can see from these photos of him, he is no longer a baby.
On top of the normal feelings of a parent saying good-bye to their son, I had another layer of feelings because I am a divorced dad. I felt guilt that his mother wasn’t there to say good-bye because we are now divorced. Guilt that he was the child of divorce. Guilt that I wasn’t always with him when he was growing up because he was with his mother. I also felt pride that I spent every moment possible with him and his brothers since separation, making them my focus when they were in my care. I also felt good that I had provided him with an excellent role model as to a healthy, loving relationship with my new marriage. I felt happy that I had positively contributed to him becoming who he is today.
Frankly, I could not speak to my wife after we said good-bye to my son. The emotions were too overwhelming.
Eventually, I said to myself "I have a choice. I can focus on the negative emotions or the positive ones." I chose the positive ones. I chose to think about what a great guy my son had become.
1. Caring and sensitive. Justin feels everything deeply. He is the peace-maker in the family always striving to find a just solution and to bring his family and friends together. He has maintained a loving relationship with his girlfriend for over five years in spite of him being only 18 years old because he is so caring, understanding and sensitive. He has many great male friends too because he is a great friend to them.
2. Resourceful. Let me share a story. On a week-long canoe camping trip , I forgot the cutlery. Justin was not discouraged. He simply got out his knife and whittled a spork (spoon fork) from wood for himself. He made the most out of with what he had around him. This is typical of Justin.
3. Courageous. Whether mountain biking or snowboarding, Justin is always ready to push himself to great heights without being crazy or reckless. He was never afraid of challenges. He has played the violin since he was 5 years of age and never hesitated to perform for an audience. In fact, he played the violin at my wedding ceremony and at the open house of my new office. There is no fear in that boy.
Justin is… well…. he is all grown up now and I am so proud of him.
After focusing on the positives, I realized that Justin had turned out to be a great young man in spite of, or maybe, partly perhaps because of my divorce. Hmmmm.
If you are going through a divorce, remember to focus on the positive. Don’t let the little voice of negativity get you down. Choose to be positive.
I only shed a couple of tears when I said good-bye and I held back a million. Then I realized that this was a new beginning for my son and, frankly, a new beginning for me. It was a good thing. He will be fine… and so will I.