When I first got divorced over ten years ago, I would venture out into this small community I lived in, with my three young children and a broken heart in tow. I remember sitting in a restaurant with this gaggle of kids of mine and feeling something so crucial was missing. I would look around in my haze of sadness and see family after family, enjoying their meals, enjoying each other...just enjoying. I would look at my children, who were completely oblivious to my imagined defect that I had put on us, and they too were enjoying all that was around us. I knew there was a lesson here...just at the time, I had no idea what it was.
Flash forward over a decade later, a few therapy sessions and a monster road trip out east to swim in the ocean and visit some extended family that I hadn't seen in years. The kind of family that you may not see for some time, but the minute you do, it's like you have never been apart...not for a moment. The kind of family that makes you feel so intensely loved that all irrational doubts of being unloveable immediately fly out the window. The kind of family that stands up in a restaurant to call the server over because your nine year old is out of whipcream on her waffle and well, she really wants more. Or the kind that wakes up at 6 am to take your older kids to get the fresh doughnuts because that is the only way to eat them...right out of the oven. Or spends hours cooking a seafood feast just because it reminds you of childhood. You know..that kind of family. The family that listens without judgement. That knows your struggles and still thinks you are the best thing ever. The family that reminds you that your children...they are what is important. And spending time with them...really spending time with them and observing how much they love life, no matter what is going on around them...well, that is the lesson to be learned.
Because kids don't carry around these definitions and boxes like we do, when they are younger. That is all on us. Those are our wounds that we carry. They interfere with what we feel and ultimately change how we see the world around us. And my family? Well, it was always there, intact and whole, even if the look of it was changing.
And sometimes it takes a 20 hour road trip and a dip in the ocean to figure that out.