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Monday, September 3, 2012

Being Divorced on Labor Day

Labor Day...

So this is Labor Day, the last day of a long weekend.  For many people it is the weekend that represents the end of summer, the last chance at summer fun.  For a person recently divorced, it can mean lots of other things, so I want to address them specifically this blog.  If you aren’t divorced, read on, you might understand some friends better, and find it isn’t too late to include into your plans a friend who is struggling. 
First, I want to reflect on those who have younger children.  If your children are young, may be feeling the extra emptiness of a house without the sound of children at play.  Or you may feel the loss of that annual trip to the zoo or theme park.  Other weekends aren’t so bad, since by now you’d be back at work.  But if you are used to spending Labor Day with your kids, the change can be hard.
          On the other hand, you may have the children this weekend (in which case, why are you reading this now?  Go spend the time with your kids!!)  In the case of the parents WITH the kids for the weekend, it can be just the opposite.  You can overdo because you don’t see them as often, and want to make the most of the time you have.  But the kids most need you to be YOU, to provide the consistency of who YOU are, not some “manufactured for the weekend party person.”  Though your emotions may be overwhelmed, maintain a relatively normal time with your kids, but taking into account the fact that your time opportunities with them has been altered, and opportunities should be used while you can. 
          Or, you may have the kids, and be struggling with the “at mom’s house we always…” syndrome.  Don’t let yourself get caught up in the competition and blackmail.  It’s okay NOT to be what “dad’s house” is, to not have the same finances, to be faithful to your own set of values (assuming God approves).  Again, it is about who YOU are, and having a genuine relationship with your kids based on that.
          Finally, those without kids (or whose kids are elsewhere) who may feel lost because old traditions no longer fit.  As for you, remember, divorce gives you the opportunity to create your own traditions that fit with who YOU are, and the things YOU want YOUR life to reflect.  Maybe this year you don’t HAVE to go on that annual camping trip, and so can do the yard work for fall you always wished you could.  Or, maybe you don’t HAVE to stay home and work, so might go to a movie or the lake with some friends.
          For me, Labor Day weekend is not a big deal, and I just do what I do.  Maybe this is the year for YOU to decide what it is to you, and to do whatever it is that best represents you.  Even if it means working, because you can’t afford the getaway, because that, too, is an honest response to the changes you have experienced in your life.  As you look back over the weekend, or maybe at the beginning of this last day, I hope you find something of meaning in how you have spent your time.

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