Today I was given the gift every mother in my situation can only dream about. The gift of being able to see just how adored, safe and treasured my son is when he's not with me. The gift of knowing "the other woman" who is also a parent to him, is actually one of the most resilient, strong and beautiful humans on earth. The gift of knowing his Dad is happy, healthy and grounded. The gift of knowing my baby, my tiny boy, is so loved by them both.
"There were times when the pain was all consuming, threatening to swallow me up. This was not the life I had ordered for us, my baby. This wasn't supposed to happen to me, or you. I spent so many nights crying, wondering how my choice to leave would impact you. I couldn't hold our family together and the guilt was all encompassing. I couldn't stay. We couldn't. This needed to happen and I clung onto hope that it was the right decision for us all, including your dad. I chose to walk away with you, and that's a choice that I knew would impact us all forever. I promised myself I would pay all your therapy bills when you grew up".
That's a snippet from a piece I wrote a few months ago while I was reflecting on my breakup with Archie's dad. My psychologist had asked me that day if I planned to tell Archie when he was older about what happened between his Dad and I. I hadn't thought about it, but once I began it all came pouring out in a letter to Archie. An atonement of sorts.
It feels like somewhat of a miracle to be writing this post now, four years since that painful time, celebrating a new love, a new family, a new home, a new joy.
Time does heal. Time allows us to move forward. How we choose to spend that time is what shapes who we ultimately become.
In those early days of feeling like I had walked away from everything "family" meant, and was paralyzed with fear of how that would impact my son, I wish I'd known. I wish I'd known Archie would be gifted with two incredible homes. Two warm, loving families. I wish I'd known the positive impact Sam would have on our lives, and how it would feel like she was always meant to be part of his.
Chris and I have each found our own happiness and we have found a way to prioritize Archie and rise above the hurts of the past to coparent him the way he deserves. We have miraculously found a new way to move through the world which shows Archie there is still a love and respect between us as his parents. That we will work hard every single day to do that for him. He won't need to seat us on separate tables at his wedding.
This is Sam, Chris and Archie.
It was a gift to be able to photograph them in their home today. My Mumma-heart is full and ever grateful to the universe for working it's strange and wonderful magic on us.
"Being an artist means forever healing your own wounds and at the same time, endlessly exposing them." -Annette Messager