My friends tell stories about their dreamed-of weddings, their perfect children. These are dreams they’ve had since childhood. Girlfriends pictured the dress, the centerpieces, the honeymoon, the band. Inevitably, their dreams can be found lacking. They mourn their absence.
I never saw myself married. Never with children. Instead, I was That Girl, living in New York City with her rather pathetic but somehow loveable boyfriend, Donald. My dreams are lacking too. I mourn its absence.
And now that I live in the suburbs and drive what some teenage friends refer to as a mom-car, I am both confounded and moved by the reality of my life. My boys, three and seven, are funny, smart, intuitive, and just like their father.
I loved their father, but I do not love him anymore. I love my children. Period. End stop. I love, love, love my children. They are my life and my death, my sunrise and sunset, they are my reason for getting out of bed. But they look just like they father. I do not love him.
How to resolve this? How to come to the space in my mothering that enables me to feel all encompassing everything-ness for these stunning boys when they so remind me of someone who decided he didn’t love me anymore?
We look at pictures. Me and the girlfriends who have gathered so protectively – and fearfully – around me. They are all thinking it, but I am the one who needs to speak it: they look like him. The women agree, mournfully, cautiously. My ex is no longer himself, he is unlike the man I fell in love with, we all agree. But still. My boys have his eyes, his talents, his posture. I think of this constantly. I think of it not-so-much.
They are creatures who are new and improved – my ex, with my X. A dream made manifest.
Laurie lives with her mischievously charming three and seven-year-old boys in Beverly, MA.