Friday, April 5, 2013


As I sat down with my kids, one by one, and explained to them that their father had left, their different ages created very different reactions.  Some felt abandoned.  Others overcome with anger and disappointment.  Some sat in shock, while others shouted and cried.  However, one resounding similarity, from the 8 year-old to the 18 year-old was this.  "I feel DIFFERENT!"  Family Change definitely has a way of making us feel different.  Whether we have lost a parent and are keenly aware of everyone else who has theirs.  Or, a miscarriage or loss of a child, and suddenly, as if in bold print, the world seems to be full of all the people who have theirs.  Chronic illness and addiction can make us feel different.  Divorce or death of a spouse and suddenly, all we see are perfect families, seemingly unaffected by family change, possessing that comfort and companionship we once knew.  We feel different because somehow we feel like we failed.  We feel different because of the way we might be viewed by others.  We feel different because we are not sure who we will rock to sleep, and how we will ever close our eyes again without them.

One tender night, as my little guy struggled to hold back the tears, I felt impressed to sit down with him and make a list of all the things that would NOT be different.  I took out a piece of paper.  On the left we wrote, "Before Daddy Left".  On the right, we wrote, "With Just Mom."  Then, we discussed some of his concerns----- what time would we get up in the morning?  Would we still go to school?  Would Mom still be there when we got home?  Would we eat Coco Pebbles for breakfast?  Would we still do Saturday chores? (he really tried to get out of that one!)  Would we go to Scouts, Pack Meeting, Soccer games, Softball games, school carnivals, parent-teacher conference, Basketball games and church?  Would we still be able to have friends play at our house?  We kept track of our answers on our sheet.  Our discovery filled us both with hope and peace.  The majority of the week would remain unchanged, with a few minor exceptions.  We decided Mom would make sure the garbage cans were out on Sunday night.  And, the boys  would shovel the snow and mow the lawn.  Would we all  miss Daddy?  Of course!  However, we both learned that though our biggest fear was feeling that all would be "different", when in reality, much of what mattered to a child would remain the same.  This list created a calm security in us both.  He knew he could count on tomorrow to much the same as it had been today.  His worries were able to be replaced with healing.   And, for me, that night, being "different" became,  Be Dedicated and Be Determined!!  Dedicated to those things that matter most!  And,  determined to make each day as normal as possible, with the hopes of magnifying our desire to press on!!!  Happiness comes when the things we believe in are NOT different from the things we do!  Though we may feel that Family Change makes us different, it really creates common bonds with many who are struggling with similar challenges.  Thus, giving us opportunities to reach out in love, wisdom and compassion because of our different journeys!!  Just a few months ago, I overheard this same little guy, comforting a friend experiencing divorce, "Don't worry, you'll still have the same food and you still have to go to bed on time!"  Different?  Dedicated!  Determined!!


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