There is little in this world more beautiful to me than the sound of laughter. The smile on their face; the shine in their eye. When someone completely loses themselves in joy it’s magical. Kids running and playing at the beach or park never fail to make me think of my own kids.
They do not seem as carefree as the other kids. They aren’t necessarily unhappy, but I wish they would smile more; I wish they’d laugh more. They have suffered from our divorce more than anyone. They are innocent victims and I would do anything to undo some of the damage I know has been done. What they have been put through is my biggest regret in all of this.
And yet this divorce was also for them. They have benefitted in ways they may never understand.
When we were married I was a role model for them, but not an example of how I wanted them to be. They learned by watching me, but the lessons I was teaching are not things I’d want them to do.
This became crystal clear in one moment I will never forget. About 6 months after the divorce was final the girls and I had been seeing a counselor who wanted my ex to attend one of the sessions. I knew this was a bad idea, she was inexperienced, not a seasoned therapist. But at the time I went along with it. I didn’t want to assume something we hadn’t tried wouldn’t work. And honestly I was desperate to fix some of the issues we were dealing with.
The day came and we all sat in a room together for the first time since we met with the judge. The counselor asked us each how we disciplined the children when they misbehaved. He went into detail regarding a particularly barbaric punishment he had started using, having heard about it from somewhere. When it was my turn I honestly couldn’t tell them. When an issue came up I dealt with it. I couldn’t explain the “method” because it wasn’t something I had put thought into at the time (I now realize that I use natural consequences so the “punishment” is different each time).
That infuriated their dad. He thought I was trying to make it look like they only misbehaved at his house. As I tried to explain my point of view the conversation escalated. The tension was palpable. I was in uncharted territory, confronting my ex. Eventually my daughter came over to me and placed her hand over my mouth. She looked in my eyes and told me that we were fighting because I had an opinion.
In that moment I knew, without a doubt that my divorce was necessary. I knew that for them I had to learn to be a better role model. I knew I needed to become the person I want them to be. And that has become my motivation for a lot of what I’ve achieved these past few years.
And perhaps it’s because of my example that they have become so serious so young. Maybe they are mirroring what they see in me. If I laugh more, will they follow suit? If I play more, will they join in? I think this is worth trying. I hope I can bring more laughter into our lives. This weekend will be a perfect time to start.
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Laughter