I was picking up laundry from my daughter's floor the other night. She was at her Dad's house for the weekend, and I was doing my usual deep clean of the house. Lord knows I can't seem to get any cleaning accomplished when she and her brother are around, so my kid-free weekends are my time for catching up.
So there I was, picking through and picking up things off her floor and I did what any Mom would probably do.
It wasn't a major infraction -- this wasn't a diary or anything. Just a silly book she got as a birthday present last year, one of those fill-in-the-blanks books that pre-teen girls adore. It has pages devoted to top 10 cute boys, favorite outfits, best friends and the like. The lists start out with things like "If I were on a desert island, I'd want _____, _____, _____, ______, and _______" or "I think the three worst things you could do to a friend would be _____, ______, and _______."
I thumbed through it for a bit, laughing and remembering my own days as a young girl when high drama involved who was wearing what when I came across the entry that punched me in the gut.
Three things I hope are true:
1. Space aliens will visit our planet.
2. Jeremy likes me.
3. My parents still love each other.
Oh, baby girl, baby girl.
I want so badly to tell her I do. I do love your father. I loved him the day I married him, I loved him the day he walked out the door to be with someone else, and I love him still today. But I'd have to admit I was snooping to tell her that, and I don't want to risk her feeling like I violated her trust.
She and I have actually talked about this. I told her the truth: I made a vow to her father, and I never broke that vow. I love him and will likely do so until the day I take my last breath. I also told her that love without respect is pretty much useless, and that you can love someone and still not want to live with them ever again. I spent a quarter of a century building my life around this man. I carried, birthed and raised his children. Our children. Even if I wanted to forget him, his DNA is etched plainly into their faces and some of their mannerisms. I will never forget who and what he was to me as long as I gaze upon them.
And that's OK. I made my peace with that a long time ago.
At first I hated him for the fact of my love. Why did I have to feel so much? Why couldn't I be indifferent, as he was? Why couldn't I just not care about him the way he so obviously didn't care about me?
After a lot of angst and browbeating and long periods of self-loathing, I realized that I'm just not wired that way. The man gave me the two greatest gifts of my life, and for that alone, I will love him till my death. He also happens to deeply love the two people that matter most to me now. How can I not care for him in the face of that? And finally, truthfully, even though it all fell apart at the end, we had many good years. Years with laughter. Years with love. To deny that would be ludicrous. To deny it to my children would be obscene.
So if she asks me again (and maybe she will someday), I'll tell her the truth. I love your father. No matter what. Not just for who he was to me, but also because of who I am, and I make no apologies for it.
Do you still feel like you love your ex, in some fashion? Does it bother you?
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