It's been over six months since my son, Zion, went to live
with his father full-time. For the most part, the changes have been good for my
son and his father, but they've been hit and miss for me. The most difficult part
has been letting go of the idea that being a good mother means being the center
of my child's life.
For the first few months of this arrangement, Zion would
cry horribly when I went to pick him from school or his granny's house. Crying
has never been a common way for my son to express his emotions, so to see and
hear him crying uncontrollably was very disturbing for me. He'd cry loudly while asking me to return him to his father. It would take about an hour for
him to calm down. Eventually we'd cuddle together, and all would be right with
the world. Just writing about it brings up strong feelings in me.
Zion started calling
me and asking to see me. When I picked him up from school, we were able to talk
about him being happy to see me while also still wanting to see his father
later that evening. When I'd call his father to make a plan to pick our son up
for the weekend, it was Zion who would call to confirm our time and what we'd
Something has changed, and everyone can see it.
I picked my son up on Thanksgiving so that we could spend
the day together, and when I arrived at his dad's house, he was ready to go. We
made our usual family rounds and each of my family members commented on Zion's
behavior and how much it had changed.
Just last year during a Thanksgiving
visit to my aunt's house, Zion begged to leave; he was nearly inconsolable. My
aunt, who is an old-school disciplinarian, commented that I needed to get
better control of him. I was embarrassed and angered by her comment, but I decided to let him act out and to leave when I was ready.
When we arrived this
year, Zion said hello to everyone and went into the living room, parked himself
next to my aunt's 70-year-old husband and spent an hour asking him
question after question. I checked on him once and was relieved to see them
both fully engaged. My aunt jokingly said, "He's a new boy, thank goodness,
because we had agreed to call Dr. Phil for an intervention if his behavior was
anything like it was last year." I ignored her.
Something has changed, and everyone can see it. Zion is more
cooperative. He's less confrontational with teachers and peers. He is more
interested in participating in school activities as well. He no longer cries
when I pick him up, and he's able to negotiate for his desires.
His father says
it's just a function of maturity, and I do agree, but I also believe that a big part of it has to do with dad. My
son responds well to his father's influence; while I don't want my son to be afraid to cry, I'm glad that he's
learning to monitor his emotions. Maybe taking a break from Zion was just what he needed to grow.