Family, Heartbreak

3 Reasons My Sons Make Me Want To Thank My Ex-Wife (...So I Am)

I have two sons: Henry, who's almost 4, and Charlie, who's 10 months old. Sometimes, when I look at them, the entire galaxy shatters out of the sky like James Bond repelling through a stained-glass cathederal ceiling. Look at these guys, I'll stop and tell myself in a moment of real-time clarity.

Look at Henry flipping himself off the coffee table in his Hulk costume that I bought him for Christmas.

Check out Charlie Hustle, balancing himself up against my shins and ever so slowly, pulling his chin out from under him so he can teeter a bit before he looks up and lands his blue eyes right on my brown ones, his face cracking wide open in a smile.

Who would I be without them? It's unimaginable. They're barely old enough to understand what's going on in this life of theirs, as their mom and I glide from our final evening skies of separation and pull our different rides into one last hangar together: We will be officially divorced in a week.

There are so many times in a parents' lives when we forget to zoom in. We forget to just shut our traps for five minutes and stand back like a reporter and watch our own children live life. But when we do, the weight of all this living just kind of slides off our backs, and for an epic moment or two, we understand that everything else we've dealt with that day—all the bills and the assh*les and the lust and the exhaustion—it's all really just a strained Walmart bag of disposable pop contemplations.

Look at that kid. You made him, I tell myself. And in a fleeting instant, everything melts away and my life makes so much sense. So in a semi-desperate whirlwind of empathy and tender emotion, I thought I'd take a moment to tell someone who I barely talk to much anymore (or even know very well at this point) that I'm really fu*king thankful to her for these lads and for what we're building and creating so perfectly, even while we tear so much other stuff down.

I'm writing these to her. But I hope you'll feel where I'm coming from.

1. I'm thankful for a moveable feast of chaos.

Hey, M. I know it must seem bizarre of me to thank you for the never-ending circus of puke and pee-pee diapers and for the cold, calculated Napoleonic commands for cups of orange juice that my life has become since we went our separate ways. But I know you'll know what I'm talking about and that makes me smile, knowing you know.

These two little guys are going to give me a heart attack one of these days, now that I have them with me on my own so often, but I've acccepted that fate. (I'm even looking forward to the nice little mini-break from the daily grind that my heart attack will offer me. But that's another tale to tell.) My point is, I want to thank you for opening my eyes up to just how brilliant and enlightening this mad chaos of single parenting two little boys can really be.

I lose myself in their insanity so often. I stumble in their T-Rex shadows lingering over me. They control me more than I can control them, I suspect, and in a very macabre sort of way, I dig being their baby b*tch. At the end of each day, as I kiss their tiny heads, I fall in love with those beautiful monsters all over again. Every damn night. And that's something I don't have any words for, but thanks for helping me get there.

2. I'm thankful I see my face in theirs.

I know Charlie looks more like you than me and I'm pretty happy about that, but I still see a good bit of me in his cheeks and the way he moves his eyes. And I see me in Henry, too. And I see his Pop-Pop, dead so long now, sliding out of Henry's wee head like a shapeshifter ghost.

How insane is it that we can see ourselves in these dudes? Not just our fiery temperaments or our creative bones, but our actual straight-up faces looking up at us asking if we can can carry them into the bedroom. How magic is that sh*t? Our blood collided in so many wrong ways so often, but man-oh-man. When I watch our sons and I recognize your Dad's nose or my brother's toddler bowl-cut and frown crinkles, I know the blood we slammed into each other was for something far more monumental than the short-lived idea of me and you together at the breakfast table holding hands across an impossible dream.

3. I'm thankful for a future far longer than our memories. 

If I survive the heart attack and you survive things over in your world, we have to face the music: We're going to end up having a lot more memories with our boys as divorced people than we'll ever have of all of us together. It seems strange to contemplate that, but when you break it down, it's such a wonderful gift. No matter how rough our proverbial roads might get, we'll always have these same exact two sons to watch and laugh at and advise and listen to and spend money on and argue with and love beyond even the plausible definition of the word. 

I'm waxing poetic, I know, but what else can I do? I love these boys. I need them, eat them, breathe them. And even though the two of us were a legendary omnishambles, we made two sons who make life—even at it's worst—utterly breathtaking and bad*ss. I can't deny that. And I don't want to, either. 

So thank you.