So, I knew today was going to be a crazily busy day, what with my woman's Bible study group this morning, running errands, and then my cousin's wedding and reception this evening. And, oh yeah, there was the "big meeting" of the Ex with the boys and me for lunch.
Actually, for all the hoopla and stress this has brought into our lives for the last three weeks, it really was kind of much ado about nothing. I don't mean it meant nothing, but it just didn't turn out (for me at least) like I had thought. Over the years, there has been a lot of anger on my part when I think back about the demise of my first marriage, and about the way he had just walked out of the lives of the boys, not to mention me. However, my DH came into my life just over a year later and has always been "Dad" to them, for better and for worse with them and me. I think he won the boys' hearts before he even won mine. They are as much his as they are mine, and most people are honestly surprised to learn that he's not their natural father.
I think, as human beings, that we all have a tendency to look back on the past and wonder "what if..." Today, seeing him for the first time in 11 years, I expected to feel that same old surge of anger and hurt, but it wasn't like that. It was more like running into an old friend from high school that you hadn't seen in 20 years (Wow, it's hard to believe it really has been that long since high school. Man, does time fly when you're having fun!). Good to see him, fun to catch up on family, but absolutely no regrets for how things have turned out.
God has been working in my life for the last couple of years on forgiveness: not necessarily in this situation, but for other things that have happened in my past that I won't go into. Suffice it to say, there were A LOT of years that I really struggled with this, particularly with one individual (not the ex). If you had asked me a dozen years ago if I would ever accomplish it, I would have just laughed (albeit bitterly). But the craziest thing happened: Once I finally determined that I just didn't have it in me to forgive that person on my own and dumped the whole sorry mess in God's lap (and here's the important part, actually left it there), He completely took it from me. Whereas I used to dream about running down this person in my car, I can actually see them now and feel absolutely nothing.
Today with the ex (I really need to come up with some sort of nickname) was just like that. It's not as though I don't remember all he did, but it just didn't matter to me. I've been the lucky one who's gotten to keep the boys to myself and have total say in how they are raised, and I hate to brag, but I think I've done one helluva job! By him walking out, I didn't have to struggle the way a lot of divorced parents do with dealing with the kids being bounced back and forth every-other weekend, or having different disciplinary styles or any of that. Even though we have our challenges (and trust me, WE DO), I have every confidence that they will both turn out to be fine young men. They both already make me proud with their sincerely kind hearts (just not always with each other. What is it about boys and that constant need to wrestle and mercilessly harass each other!). The X-man has been the only one who has missed out, and he will never be able to undo the damage that was done. He will never enjoy the relationship with them that Tom has or be the one they call "dad." I actually felt sorry for him today, because I think he's finally reached a point in his life where he truly "gets" it. For his sake, I hope that he's sincere in trying to change his life. I think everyone deserves that chance. And for the boys', I choose to believe that we can never have enough people in our life who care for us, and I'm glad that they at least will have that opportunity to do with it what they will.