On Mother’s Day, I said goodbye to my dog.
She didn’t die. No, she’s still alive and perky at almost eleven years old, but I gave her to my ex-husband. I didn’t want to even though he will be great to her, has known her since she was two and loves her, but when I found out we (daughter and I) were losing our home in seventy days, I had to find a good safe home for my kid–and fast! The challenge in finding a place was threefold: one on a shoestring budget, one close to my ex in order to keep a great coparenting relationship, and one in a decent school district. When I found a place, it didn’t accept dogs. Worse still even if it did, I sadly cannot afford to care for my pup’s upkeep and allergy medications with rent over my head.
Divorce has been a series of goodbye. Goodbye marriage. Goodbye family. Goodbye house. Goodbye dog. My life is like a bad country song, except for I’m half- Jewish and come to think of it, I don’t know any Jews who like country music. Hmm.
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. Goodbye money. Goodbye nuclear family. Goodbye daughter for half of the time. Goodbye to almost everything it seems.
Yet wherever I go in my house, I look for my dog but she is not there.
When we told our daughter that our dog was going to live with Daddy, she thought it was funny. She wondered how his family cat would get along with our dog. It didn’t seem to phase her too much because she knew she would still see the dog, (which was the whole point of keeping her “in the family”–for the dog’s sake and our child’s)until I tucked her in that night.
“Mommy. I’m worried about you,” she said.
“Why? You don’t need to worry about mommy,” I reassured her.
“But Mommy, when it’s Daddy’s weekend and I am with Daddy you will be all alone. Everyone will be with Daddy and you will have no one.”
She went on to list all the family members in Daddy’s life and house, including the dog and cat. Then she noted: “You will have no one.”
The next morning as we drove she announced, “Mommy–this weekend is a Daddy weekend. That means you will be all alone with no one to snuggle with and Daddy will have the whole gang.”
There it was again in plain words: I am alone.
I am alone. Alone, and my four year-old daughter notices and worries about this.
No child should have to worry and especially about her own parent but no matter how I reassured her she seemed to doubt me.
“I will be just fine alone. There’s nothing wrong with being alone at all! Sure I miss you and the dog but I am happy you get to be with Daddy.”
“Being alone is NOT good! There’s no one to snuggle,” she argues with me.
Children see so much even when we think they are not looking. They see what we want them to see and what we don’t. And while I am fine I suppose I mean, I’m not underfed or homeless, it is hard to always say goodbye. To wonder when I will say “hello” again. When this divorced life will feel normal. When I will love like I did before. When money matters won’t feel like a noose around my neck.
People tell you don’t be stressed or your child will be stressed, which is all good and dandy but I am only human. My ex is only human. Packing up our marital home and saying goodbye to it is a stressor for us all. It’s opening some old wounds at the same time it is attempting to close them.
It is easy to count the goodbyes when you feel like you’re drowning in the vicious tidal wave of divorce. Easy to feel the weight of the whole process on your shoulders. To count each time you made a parenting mistake, a mistake at work, or a life mistake. Everything can seem so crucial. Sometimes I feel as if my brain and heart are under a microscope as I sit and watch each transaction and tear it apart.
Maybe I will always be the “alone” parent. Maybe my daughter will worry about me without her and our dog even though I smile, hug her, and tell her not to.
But she won’t always worry and I won’t always be alone because it can’t always be goodbye. How could it go on like that? It is goodbye right now, yes, but it is also hello to a new place. Hello to a fresh start. Hello to a home that houses no memories of pain or heartache. Hello to a new town. Hello to an open door (or somewhat open door) to my heart. Hello to a potential someone, one day.
Goodbyes aren’t forever but sometimes they have to be said in order to get to where you need to go.
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