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So now the boy officially has two homes

Weeks ago, back when Lil E first started asking perceptive, sensitive questions that surprised even me (me, who has become, over time, attuned and accustomed to what he gets for such a small child) about where Daddy is living and will live and why we are not all living together anymore, I answered as much as I could, as simply as I could and then just hugged him for a long time. He asked the questions with an urgency that I understood and felt myself but he cried to hear the answers, and that I understood as well. He crawled on my lap with his paci and his babydoll Tiger and rubbed my elbow to soothe himself, as he has done since he was brand new.

And then, because I felt this was so much bigger than the experiences I've had or I know, I went to the bookstore.

I had a list of books from myself that my benevolent and ass-saving therapist recommended. I asked the woman behind the information desk to help me find them.

"Those are all in the divorce section," she said matter-of-factly. But when she looked at me, her face softened. "Here, let me show you. Let me take you there."

It made me uncomfortable and it made me laugh and so I asked her, "Does this tour to the divorce section also include directions to where I can get a drink and a date after I buy my books? Are you required to hug the people you send here?"

She laughed with me, "It totally should, honey! And I would hug you!"

Finding my books wasn't hard. It was empowering, even if actually
reading them has been an exercise in reliving deep love and deeper
wounds. But other perspectives and someone else's words are important
when I am feeling tapped of any of my own.

Finding a book for Lil E was harder. I had some titles I researched,
but I ended up pulling out all the books from the shelf marked
"Separation and Transition" in the children's area. Most of what I
found was about animal families and divorce and since we aren't
porcupines (mostly) and at that point, weren't yet divorcing, those
books didn't feel right.

But I found one that did. My Two Homes. The illustrations are cute and the words are simple and the message -- here's how this one kid negotiates living with a mommy and a daddy -- seemed good for my boy.

I bought it. But then I put it away. I knew I'd have a sense of when to
pull out the book to read and since so many things were still up in the
air then, the book felt right but the timing didn't.

It is now weeks and weeks and many dips into the attorney's retainer
later. Lil E seems more settled into his routine of spending Mommy Time
and Daddy Time and his carefully-plotted schedule here with me and my
parents and there, at the apartment with his father.

But the questions have escalated as he's tried to figure out if we are
ever going to return to our apartment (which is an excellent and
unanswered question) and where each of us will live. And although he is
happy to see his Daddy and spend time at the apartment, he now refuses
-- REFUSES -- talk to him on the phone on days when they do not see
each other.

We've had many conversations about why it is important to just listen
to his Daddy say he loves him. Still, he will not even press an ear to
the phone on those mornings or evenings before bed. Then, the other
night, he screamed and cried at the request to say ni-ni on the phone, even angrier and more upset than before.

I asked him why he felt that way and he said, "I just want us all together in our apartment! I just want to be in my apartment!"

And again, I understood. It was time for the book.

So I pulled it out and we poured over it at bedtime. We read about how
this little boy has a room with his mommy and a room with his daddy,
about two toothbrushes and two favorite chairs. We read about how his
mommy calls him when he stays with his daddy and his daddy calls him
when he stays with his mommy. We read about how they love him no matter
where he is. Lil E pointed out things in the pictures and asked
questions about the boy and his toys and pets and parents. It was
calming and good, and as I'd hoped, right.

After I read the last page, I paused. I wanted to ask him what he thought without being too pushy.

"What do you think about this book, love? Is it a good one?"

And right on time, with all the perception he has, Lil E stepped to the beat.

"Good. It's good," he said straightforwardly. And then, "But it doesn't make me want to talk to Daddy on the phone."

And there it was.

It was hard not to laugh. And cry. It is just hard. But when I hear that, I know this kid is going to be OK.

heartache for him, for having parents who once were madly truly deeply
and are now untethering in every way but as parents, was softened by
the sensitivity he has. It isn't easy and won't be. He is working on
it, though. The wheels are ever turning. And I am going to be there to
answer honestly, hug hard, offer my lap and elbow. To read and read and
read and ask my own questions. And sometimes, just to laugh at it all.

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Reader Comments (6)

when mark and i were separated and as we enivitably will be again...this was the hardest thing to eplain to the boys. they also refused to talk on the phone to him..or visit him. there were so many many sleepless nights for them. my prayers are with you. you are doing an amzing job!
December 12, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzoe
Again, your grace is simply amazing. You are an incredible mother, I know there are no end-of-the-year awards for mama's but you deserve a big ass star! Hug yourself from all of us.
December 12, 2007 | Unregistered Commenter2Jmama
I just clicked on a link from blog her ads and starting reading you and now I can't stop. I wish you all the best of everything.
December 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjodi
Your words are so bittersweet to me and hit so close to home. Like so many other women in this world, I've been helping my boys navigate through the scary world of divorce. It's been 10, almost 11 years for us and it does get easier but it's still part of who we are.I admire and respect your focus and love for your baby and hope you don't mind me checking back often to see how you both are doing.Bubble
December 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPam
As a stepmom, I admire you so so so much for trying to help your son adjust to the new situations around him. It's obvious you are putting him first and trying to take care of his needs above all else. That is awesome.
December 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercanape
I remember overhearing Ariel in a conversation with a new friend once about 4 years ago...i heard her say, "I have two homes..." It literally made my heart break, even though she'd had two homes for nearly 3 years. BUT, she was totally matter-of-fact about it and completely she still is. Next year, we will be moving to Colorado and there will be a whole new "sitchy-ation" to work out, since her dad will obviously not come with us. I'm only telling you all this so you know that you are right...your boy will be just fine...and so will you! xoxox
December 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

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