Just got back from 3 nights in NY. Each time I go up there I strategize on the best way to see as many friends as possible. I slept at 3 different friends’ houses over the 3 nights, so I did pretty well! Although the incidental benefit of this trip was seeing friends, the focal point was visiting the boys in camp. This was the first year that the boys visiting days were not the same day. Jason’s camp changed their structure and as a result the days shifted. I can only describe the trip by categorizing my thoughts into 3 buckets:
- What I really, really wanted to do: Go to Jason’s visiting day, then drive back to NYC, get an apt in the city from Sunday until Friday (see a million friends), then drive up to Bryan’s visiting day on Saturday and then go home on Sunday.
- What I actually did: Got to NY Thurs night, saw a friend, drove to Bryan Friday morning, spent the day with him, left to stay with a friend, Saturday morning went to Jason for the day, left to go to another friend, flew home Sunday.
- What I should have done: Pick up Bryan on Friday, take him overnight to Jason’s camp with me so they could see each other. (Also seeing friends before and after)
Why does this matter? Well I learned some things about parenting and divorce and my boys which has been swirling in my brain. If things don’t go the way I expect them to or if something seems off, it always triggers two things. One consists of me beating myself up for not giving it enough thought, not putting myself in the boys’ shoes and not anticipating things better. The other is how to plan better for next time and what else in my life do I need to plan better and think about more and engage more. Yikes these are kind of the same thing.
In my mind and my heart I felt that each of them would be thrilled to have alone time with me and and the days would be sort of magical. Wrong! There were plenty of hugs and kisses and I love yous, but I think I truly misjudged where the boys are in processing the divorce. For me, it’s in the rear-view mirror and not part of my day to day processing. For them, one parent alone at visiting day or at camp is a harsh reminder of our broken family. Nothing stings more than a sad or disappointed child. The pulse of their feelings does not usually escape me, but you can’t always get it right. The manifestation of these emotions presents differently with each kid. Bryan’s anxiety is around the when and where. When is his dad coming, where are they going, what are they doing? He kept asking and since I didn’t know the details we were both a little frustrated. He also wanted to know about Jason, how he was, what he was doing and said “I miss Jason” about 50 times (no exaggeration). After a while, my more grown up Bryan was able to push through and enjoy our visit. On Saturday I went to see Jason. The meshing of parents searching for their kids and kids searching for the parents at the entrance of camp is exhilarating at a minimum. When we spot each other the hugs are so warm and so mushy I can barely stand it. Jason easily becomes chivalrous and takes all of the stuff I brought for him and walks me to his bunk. He has been with mostly the same core group of boys for 7 years. Most of the parents are familiar and some have become good friends. It was very apparent that while we are not the only divorced family, I was the only single parent there. Jason and I left camp for a while to get some lunch and ice cream and when we got back he was emotional. We both knew why. I hugged and told him I loved him and we just sat for a few minutes. We decided to go to one of his activities and the Jason camp swagger returned. It’s his happy place and a few “Hey J”s or “Hey Kaufman” from some friends and counselors lightened his mood. I watched him climb up a big rope wall while joking with one of his favorite counselors. I realized he too, like Bryan, has matured so much and can push through to make it to the top.