Last week I was back in New Jersey. In the house I lived in for over 10 years. Taking care of my adult son with Down Syndrome while my ex was out of town. It was a strange sensation. I am light years from being the person who lived there just a few short years ago.
It was good to see my son and help to get his behavior at least a little back on track. And to see my daughter who flew in for Easter. I was happy to see a few dear friends.
But it was also hard to be in that house and see it changing, to see the garden disappearing, to wonder why I ever stayed so long—in the marriage, I mean.
We make choices based on our best guesses about what’s right for us—and sometimes those around us as well. Sometimes we choose well. Sometimes it takes us a while to realize we’ve made a mistake. Sometimes things change.
I wouldn’t go back if I could. At the same time, I recognize the good things that did come out of that marriage. I wish it had all been different. I married believing in happily ever after. It didn’t work out that way. So it was very strange being back in that house with all the memories.
It was hard, too, seeing my son. Realizing that much as I wish I could make his life easier, he must choose to make the changes in his behavior that could let that happen. I look at him and see all the years I gave everything I had to try to help him and know I couldn’t have done more. In the ways that really matter, his life is in his hands. Down syndrome or not, he must make certain choices that will determine the quality of his life. There is a limit to what his father or I can do for him. But that truth still hurts.
It was both a good trip back and a difficult one. I am so much happier than I was despite the challenges of being on my own. I discovered, though, that I am not yet completely done grieving for the loss of all the hopes and dreams I had when I married my ex and when I embarked on the adventure of motherhood.
But if we felt no emotions, we could not be writers.