Co-Parenting: Mama’s Easter Blues

Perfect! Snagged a super cute royal blue checkered suspenders and bowtie set on my Target run. Got my boy his requisite extra cute Easter outfit out of the way – you know people love seeing a little boy in a bowtie. I stared at the set proudly – size 5T – I was simultaneously shocked and saddened by the fact that he would probably be all grown out of a lot of this cutesy little boy stuff next year. Time sure is flying by. I wondered how long it would be until he shunned my clothing selections for him. Who cares – I excitedly grabbed the set and then received a call from my mom. Just like every year, she wanted to know what I was doing for Easter Sunday. And then, the follow-up question made my stomach drop. “Will you have Solomon for Easter this year?”

Ack. Aw man, I thought. My mom was confused by my silence, and proceeded to question me, “Hello? Aryeonne. Will you have him?” I answered back the standard answer – I’d have to check the divorce paperwork (even though I knew I had him for Easter last year – ugh). For holidays, my ex-husband and I agreed to take turns – for some holidays I get our son on odd years and on others even years. This is an odd year, and I do not have my kiddo for Easter. Funny thing is I’ve never been big on holidays as an adult. Years ago, when my grandparents passed away (nothing was the same after that) and my holidays became filled with retail working hours, the grandeur of holidays faded away with each late night prepping for major events only to arrive hours later to tend to customers’ holiday “needs.” Holidays just weren’t a big deal anymore…until now.

I got home and checked the paperwork to triple confirm what I already knew to be true. Usually, my son spends most Sundays with me at church or volunteering – it’s our time. I called my son over and told him that his dad would have him for Easter. He was thrilled. I asked him if he was ok attending service with his grandparents on his dad side (he usually opts for my church because of the kids program and shorter service duration). To my surprise, he answered in a way that made me forget he was 5. “I’ll go to church with grammy and grampy. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.” Ok. This is ultimately what I wanted, right? For him to think for himself and begin making these decisions and to be ok with this “arrangement.” I quickly hid my selfish disappointment and immediately nodded in agreement with him. Truth be told, that was fine – I was not.

Good Friday rolled around and my ex-husband texted me to confirm that kiddo was indeed committed to Easter with him and his family. I told him that he was verbally locked in, and he was looking forward to it. You see, my ex-husband has a huge close-knit family that comes together often to celebrate. My family rarely does this – we love each other, in a long-distance spread out way, I guess. That was one of my favorite things about my former marriage – seeing his family interact and connect so often was wonderful – I admit that there were frequent moments of envy. There were also moments of utter joy knowing that my son would be inserted in these warm gatherings and have such a large community at his disposal. Oh the memories he would have! They played soca music (Trinidadian/Afro-Caribbean music genre), the younger family members joked and bonded, people brought plate after plate of delicious West Indian food, and when I attended, I usually observed (trying not to stare and people interacting) and overly tended to my son to busy myself – 1. because I was not used to being in settings like this & 2. because I have no idea how to play spades.

My ex-husband wanted to pick up our kiddo the day before Easter so they could be well rested for early morning Easter service. The day was filled with my son and I chatting, eating, and playing together until it wasn’t. The doorbell rang. “Is that daddy?! Yay yay yay!” Solomon bolted downstairs to put his shoes on. I immediately went upstairs to grab his coat and randomly texted my ex asking if he had proper Easter attire (knowing what the answer would be – I always handled that kind of thing). I texted back that I would send what I bought. My son stood at the bottom of the stairs obediently waiting for me to come down with his things and escort him to open the door. He saw the Easter outfit and hugged it. Now, wait a minute, my child has NEVER been this excited about an outfit. *Ding dong* the doorbell rings again – probably for the fifth time. My son and I both blurt out that we’re coming, and I open the door. My kid runs down the stairs super stoked to see his pops. So bittersweet. My ex reminds him to say goodbye to me (what am I? Chopped liver? – smh). He turns around and I force a smile and we both intuitively throw up the ASL sign for “I love you.”

I close my door and become angry at myself for being so sad. It’s so weird. I know my child loves me. We (the ex and I) worked on getting him to go – without getting upset about leaving mommy. Now, he did it willingly, and now, ironically, I’m upset. I allowed myself to cry. I allowed myself to do nothing for probably an hour. I took some deep breaths and shed a few more tears when clearing the tiny Ikea plate and cup my son left at the kitchen table. Then, I slowly walked over to the television, clicked it on, and switched the Netflix setting from my son’s name to mine. I began to laugh. It felt good to see my name and no cartoons pop up in the recommendations…not sure when I had a chance to freely watch my adult shows without falling asleep. Today’s the day – I click on Grey’s Anatomy. I’m years behind and ready for a good TV binge; I don’t have to wake up early tomorrow anyway – ha! Lastly, I thought to myself, he’s more than OK and I will be too. Time to enjoy MY time.

Written by Aryeonne Johnson