"It doesn't feel like home."
My son sat at our old kitchen table, made unfamiliar by the new kitchen in which it was now centered.
"It's strange," I admitted. "I know it feels weird right now. But this is my new house. And it will be your house, too. Give it some time, baby. It will feel like home sooner than you think."
He and my daughter had just woken up from their first night in my new house. He'd just told me that he'd woken up in a bad mood, but he didn't know why.
I knew exactly why.
A month ago, I had left their father, and our home of the last eight years. The only home my kids ever remember having. And now, all of a sudden, mama lives somewhere else.
It doesn't matter why I left. Suffice it to say that 18 years is a long time to spend with someone, especially considering that when I met that someone, I was still very much a child. We grew up, we grew apart. It happens.
My husband and I agreed to a 50/50 custody split, alternating one week on, and one week off. And following a series of events that was damn near miraculous, I found the perfect home within a matter of weeks.
But, no one asked my kids if this was what they wanted. No one asked them how they'd feel about mama and daddy breaking up.
We told them it was for grown up reasons, things they wouldn't yet understand. And we try hard every day to remind them, that through all of this, those two precious things are the most important things to us. And every move we make is to ensure that they feel secure, and are well-cared for, and loved.
We did our best to keep our problems hidden from them. We fought behind closed doors, and cried our tears in silence.
In front of them, we were happy. We were loving and caring and considerate to one another.
They never saw the hurt we'd caused one another, they didn't know of the resentments that stacked one upon the other, until it all came crashing down.
No one asked them. And I'm sure that has to hurt on some level, that their lives were so unceremoniously ripped apart in front of their very eyes, with no warning or preparation. They had no idea.
When my parents divorced, Mom had custody. Dad had visitation. It was always "Dad's house". I never felt at home there. There were rules I didn't know. Food I couldn't eat. Things I couldn't touch. So when I made this move to a new place, I made a vow that my babies would see this place as every bit their home as the home I left.
But here we sit, in my new kitchen, in my new house, and my son politely asks if he can have a bottle of water, or a snack from the pantry.
And I can't help but feel my heart break over his uncertainty.
"Baby. You can have whatever you like. You don't have to ask. This is your home, too."