I work with kids. It is both horrible and wonderful. It forces me to relive the experiences with my kids when they were the current ages of the children I work with. It compels me to remember when I am trying to forget.
It is too painful to relive the memories when my children have just vanished from my life completely. Children are never supposed to just be gone from your life. They are supposed to move out as they reach adulthood and live their lives, but never just vanish. They call, you call. Hopefully you hear what they are doing in their lives. I talk to mothers I work with whose kids are in college, and they talk about how they text back and forth. Some complain the kids don't get back to them right away. They always ask do I have kids. I say yes. I nod to what they say, but I have no input to give. I don't know what it's like to have a kid in college and text them. I am not about to go into Parental Alienation with every parent I meet. They would not understand. Those I have told don't understand. It is a stigma. Unspoken. 'What have you done that you have no relationship with your children? I could not live like that. Why aren't you dead?' In the first several years I really wanted to be dead.
I have not worked with teenagers. The oldest I saw my kids as teenagers was ages16 and 14. The beginning. I did not live all the years. Working with teenagers would make me sad too. All that did not happen.
A few select people I choose to tell. I cannot not relate my experience in raising children, and going through the stages, to working with kids. I am trying to let go. To accept what is. I cannot change it. I have tried. Living in pain, daily regretting the past, thinking if only I didn't get divorced this would have never happened. Changing the past in my mind in order to change the present.
I live in my mind, in the past so much. In my head I still do the things I last did with them: Pick them up from school, drive them home, make yogurt smoothies. They watch TV in their bedrooms, my daughter always watches Spongebob and Icarly, the boys play video games while eating their snacks, my middle son has his friends over who I make snacks for also and my son's friends like the smoothies more than he does. Then my daughter does her homework at the kitchen table as I start dinner. I make dinner in my sunny kitchen for a family of five. My oldest does his chore of walking the dogs. We have three. He walks each dog one by one, separately, around the block. He and his brother fight over who is going to pick up dog poop from the back yard and who is going to take out the trash. My daughter objects to her chores of cleaning her bird cage and cleaning her room. Her brother says, Why doesn't she have to do chores?!
I spend these times in my head, the last times I had with my kids. These memories play over and over. My last times with them. Frozen at ages 11, 14 and and 16. What are they like now? I have no idea. Changed. Young adults. My daughter, 16. No longer little children. I can't ask other parents, What's it like? Do your kids totally change? Are they still the same to you as when they were children? How would I even phrase that? Even friends I know who I still talk to, mothers whose daughters played with my daughter--I don't know how to put into words what I wonder. Part of me thinks it's best if I don't wonder. Sometimes I think it would be uncomfortable for them to talk to me about it. People don't know what to say. And people become afraid of losing their own children. Of even the thought. It could happen.They knew me as a mom at home, whose life revolved around her kids. It is possible. It could happen. These friends are also divorced from their husbands. But they got primary custody. Their husbands have partial custody. They share their children. It didn't happen to them.
I love working with children. And I hate it. I love discussing children and at the same time it is the most painful thing in the world to talk about. And I am surrounded by children every day. It is my job. Why? I don't know why. It is where I ended up. I enjoy working with kids. But it is a constant reminder of the loss of my own.