So Baby has graduated. Yes, it is true. The last Lane boy birdie to leave the nest. And the weekend has been nothing short of a whirlwind of events, from baccalaureate to party to commencement. All in about a 24 hour span.
After we closed the final night of festivities with a celebratory beer and wings with our extended clan, I finally laid in our comfy bed ready for some well needed rest. Carefully reflecting on our weekend of chaos in our soft quiet, Garrett asked how I felt. He knew how much I was looking forward to this milestone for Grant and for me.
"What was your favorite part of the weekend?" he asked.
Without hesitation, I knew my answer.
"Definitely the setting up for the party with Scott, Kat, and the boys. That was definitely the best."
Garrett probed further, as I am sure he thought the beer and exhaustion had an undue influence on me.
"Really? How so?"
As we lay in the dark, I went on to relive the 2 hours of chaos in our home before our 150+ guests arrived. Although the main venue items were ordered and ready, there were more unplanned planning happening than the former. With the additional help of Ben's girlfriend, Grace, Aunt Kathy and cousin, Stefano, not only did we get it done, we had a ball.
We taped up the newly printed black and white pictures of Grant from baby to high school. The Lane boys laughed at the many memories that plastered our garage walls in the final hours. True to form, I chose two pictures that were arguably not Grant, but his older brothers. The boys got a huge laugh out of my mistake as I just shrugged my shoulders in defeat.
Scott ran around setting up tents as we contemplated the weather forecast, chiming in with the boys on my picture mislabeling mishap. Kat and I organized together like two sorority sisters. Decisions were made on the fly while we all chipped in, and then we laughed and laughed some more.
Aunt Kathy insisted on taking pictures before the guests arrived and we collectively got a case of the giggles. We laughed that it was more work than wedding pictures as Kathy shuffled us in and out for different variations of group shots. Kat and Garrett, the second spouses club, seemed to be in more shots than others and we all noticed while giving them a hard time. And then we laughed some more.
A far cry from 10 years ago.
That was a bad year. The break-up of a marriage. A Divorce. A broken family.
That was our life.
I vividly remember Scott's brother, Russ, talking to our three young sons soon after Scott and I had separated.
"You are still a family but will be a new kind of family now. Things will be different with your parents apart, but you are still family and you always need to remember that."
I cried silent tears while trying to remain stoic, taking in his calming words to his nephews. Russ' words were as needed for the boys as they were for me.
That wasn't the kind of family I wanted. What I wanted was my family back. Our gang of five, mom of three boys, wife of a police lieutenant. I had a plan and this wasn't part of it. In John Lennon's words "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans".
There was hurt and drama and bitterness and all the other ugly stuff that goes with divorce. But we moved past the ugly and eventually found happiness individually and joy in our new bigger family.
Recently I was having drinks with some new friends. With the graduation and family events, they were piecing together my new life vs. old and the ex's, new spouses, and step-children. With a beer in her system, the inevitable question was asked: "So why did you get divorced?"
And I gave her the real answer which included mutual blame to both me and Scott. The detailed discussion was behind the real answer with advice to the young mother on 'what not to do' in your marriage as your kids get older and not blame directed to my ex.
When I later added a few bits on the drama that ensued that eventful year 10 years ago, we laughed and moved on to the next subject. But the young mother made a comment that stuck with me.
"You didn't lead with the drama or the negative when I asked about your divorce," she commented as she nodded her head in what appeared to be an affirmation.
I will give my dad credit for breaking the barriers on sides and the ugly underbelly of divorce. Although I could have pleaded my case to any open ear on my victimization (and Scott could have inversely done the same), my dad taught me how to get over myself for the good of our family.
I vividly remember ten years ago when both Scott and I had restricted one another from entering each other's property (both with very valid claims in our mind). My parents were staying with me for an extended period to help out during a very difficult time in their daughter's life. Scott pulled up in the street during one of the early days of divorce ugliness to pick up the boys. He wasn't allowed in the driveway per my orders and I basically hid in the house, angry and resentful over the entire situation that was not part of my plan.
As I peered out the front door watching the boys run with bags to their dad, I sulked in both self-pity and anger. Complaining to my mom in the house, I watched the unthinkable happen. My dad walked to Scott and shook his hand. I watched with dropped jaw as my dad talked to Scott through his car window. MY dad was talking to him. I was shocked. Whose side was he on??
Then Dad calmly proceeded up the driveway as Scott and the boys drove away. He walked into the house and simply told me how it was going to be.
"Sandy, Scott is the father of my grandchildren and I will always respect him and support him as their father. That will never change."
And then he walked away.
I was flabbergasted and hurt. Almost everyone in my life at that time was about taking side. I was becoming really good at being a victim.
My dad took a stand. Hands down, this was the kindest gesture ever bestowed upon me. I was too hurt and broken to know how to move forward. It took my dad to show me the way. The easy route was anger. He chose what was right and set the tone for our future as a new family.
And then I slowly got over myself.
Fast forward ten years later and we are collectively laughing and sharing a pivotal milestone together in the same driveway that Scott was previously banned. Such a distant memory. Our life is full of planning kid moves together and grand-dog sitting. We wouldn't think of leaving the other out as we work through parenting our young adult children.
If I have one message I want to get across to anyone reading this blog, it is to be the bigger person. We are all human and we are flawed creatures. Blame and playing victim is the road to nowhere. The best gift Scott and I gave to our kids was forgiving each other. Never did they have to pick sides or look for their parents sitting in different parts of the bleachers during football games or during their graduation commencement ceremony.
If you are the friend or family member of someone going through a divorce, be the bigger person and push for the harmony of the family and not the blame of the other side. Everyone will thank you in the end. Really. Reality is rarely how we want it, but how we respond defines the joy we can reap long-term. #lovemynewfamily