It is a Hard Road Ahead.
I'm a single mama of a four year old boy and that is one of the hardest things I will ever endure. It is so unnatural for me to be away from my son. I carried him for 30 weeks, had an emergency c-section to bring him into this world at 2 lbs. 13 oz., we spent 47 days in the NICU at the Children's Hospital with 12-16 hour days of skin-to-skin care, three months at home with him with Special Education Teachers and Home Health Nurses. I pumped in a little bathroom at my work and breast fed for 20 months, to bring him the best possible nutrition I could. We laughed and bonded and snuggled. Our journey was hard, but filled with so much love. I love him more than words and I certainly gave a piece of my own heart to him when I made him in my womb. So when he isn't with me there is a hollow ache in my soul. It feels like the world stops spinning until he comes back home to me and that isn't even the worst part. The worst is watching him learning the new rules that have been applied to us. He wakes in the middle of the night crying for me asking, why I always leave him and why I'm not always there.
That will rip your heart out in a hot second and once I get him safely back to bed, I sob myself back to sleep.
He has come home asking me things like, if you get remarried I won't live with you any more right? Tears in his little eyes. Worries he carries. Though I've never said the words to him that I would remarry someday, or a possibly universe where he doesn't live with me, but those questions haunt his four-year old mind.
I have had to learn how to talk to him about all these worries and mine and ease his aching heart. I can't say it is easy, but life never is. All I know is that with love and kindness my son and I can whether any storm that comes our way. Here are a few things that have helped my son and I through the separation.
1 Baby First
I reassure him that he is the most important person in my life, that he is always first in my thoughts and heart. I want him to know that I love him more than anything in the world. So he never has to question my love. I always give him my undivided attention. I don't play on my phone when we are together, I let him know and see that he is important in my words and actions.
2 Nothing can Ever Separate Us
I tell him no matter what he will always be with me. That I will always be his mama. No one can separate us. And anyone who tells him differently is lying. I will always be his and he will always be mine. That is a mama's love. Unending, unyielding and immeasurable. He needs to hear these words. He comes to me with worries that he has conjured or others have put in his head and I squash them, because we are linked for all time. And with those simple words his worry fades to nothing and we go back to playing.
3 Open Communication
I tell him, no matter what he can always talk to me, he can tell me every worry, every thought. That's what I'm here for. I'm his mama. I will always have his best interests in my heart. It is a judgement free zone of love. If he doesn't feel the "little things" he comes to me with are important, which are "enormous things" to him, he won't be able to tell me the things that are far more important when he's older. Everything is big to them, listen with an open heart. You are building a lifetime of love and support and trust.
4 Never Bad Mouth Your Ex
He is still one of the two most important people in your child's life. Even if they are crazy or mean or on drugs or absent or never pay child support. One day your child will see them for what they are, you don't have to ever tell them. That only hurts them and creates distrust with you. Your job is to love your child unendingly and just be there for them. My son asked me why his dad and I don't live together, I simply told him, we are best friends so we don't live together, but we get to share loving you. Protect your child's innocence they don't need to know if you get along with your ex or not. All you have to do is love.
5 Be on Their Level
Don't talk down to your child. Get down on their level, eye to eye and hear them out. Let them know you are actively listening. Don't talk over them, they are people too. The more you force and try to be an authoritarian in their lives, the less they feel heard. I truly believe in open communication with my son. He is safe with me and I let him know it and feel it. We hold hands and touch foreheads when he talks so that we are connected and we are both hearing each other and communicating with undivided and loving attention. It isn't about being right most of the time, it is about being heard.