I taught my kids that they can talk to me anytime and about anything. I guess I also taught them that when they do talk to me I will listen and show up. This lesson makes it hard to be the kind of parent who tunes out. I want to tune out so often. Kids have SO much to say about almost everything. Or maybe it is just my kids. The other day Isaiah looked at me. He squared his shoulders. He folded his hands and shifted his weight back and forth. I'd asked him what his problem was. He has been very angry with me as of late. He replied with laser focus: "Mom. I don't want to be here anymore. But I can't go back to Arkansas. I can't go back to Arkansas if you aren't there. So I am stuck."
I was gutted.
I know what it feels like to feel stuck.
I planned the move to Kansas City for so many good reasons. I planned the move because it was time that I broke the cycle of things not working with G. I planned the move because I sometimes need huge gestures to break me out the norm and help me envision the next thing. I planned the move because I need more diversity. I needed out of the entrenched conservative religious culture that Northwest Arkansas is famous for. I didn't plan the move for them, though, and I'd hope that they would benefit from more brown kids in their life.
I sat down with Isaiah and listened. He elaborated so clearly that I felt overwhelmed with how well he knew himself. " I am here because I want to be with you, but I just don't like it and I need to see my dad more than just weekends. I don't not like it because it is new, but because my family and friends are in Arkansas, and I just need them to feel safe. Can we please go back, now?"
One of my best friends, Morgan, told me that I should consider that the reasons I was moving to Kansas City were not the reasons my kids were moving. I believed that as long as they were with me they'd be okay and they would thrive. I was partly right.
She was more right.
Our kids don't need just us. Or maybe it is just my kids.
I've raised my children in a community that has developed rich connections to each of my children. Tobias has Matt and Amanda and Addison has Morgan and Clark. Isaiah has a gaggle or people who know him and love him and support him.
Here they have nothing.
Siloam Springs and Northwest Arkansas, that I am rife with angst about, has shaped their short lives. They've come to connect their sense of safety and well-being to their ability to interact with a hand full of really amazing people on a regular basis. They were used to seeing their dad weekly and now weekends were leaving them relationally anemic. This is what divorce does, y'all. It is so fucking hard. I thought leaving would be best for me, probably because then I didn't have to deal with the daily grief and loss of my marriage. Even in Kansas City, though, those things remain. You can't run from the work you have to do and when you try to run, you can risk causing collateral damage.
The worst part of what Isaiah asked of me is that it confirmed a sneaking suspicion; I wasn't done in Northwest Arkansas, I still have work to do.