Term of Endearment

I woke up this morning after having a dream that Cole was sick at school with a really high fever.  In the real world, that is the reality of raising a child. They get sick a school. You pick them up. You take them home and give them a few extra snuggles.  In my dream it was earth shattering.  I couldn’t snuggle him enough, and he was just out of my reach.

Cole has been gone now for a little over two weeks, and I miss him like crazy.  Christian and I will jokingly repeat our daily routine conversations as if Cole is home all the time. The clock hits 7:45 pm – Okay Cole! Time to pick out books and get ready for bed!  I leave for work in the morning and ask Christian to have Cole call me when he wakes up.  We sit down to dinner and pretend to tell Cole to sit down and eat.  At little crazy? Maybe? Can you tell we miss him?

When I woke up from my dream this morning I not only emotionally missed Cole, but I physically missed him too.  I really just want a hug from the monster.  I’ll even take a high-five.

Waking up wishing I could hug Cole was just the beginning.  My desire to scoop Cole up and give him a squeeze progressed further into my morning.  Shortly after arriving at work, I received an email from Cole’s dad.  He’s email was short, to the point, and demanded that I take immediate action to fix what he views to be a problem…..

.…On the last day of 1st grade, Cole came home with a cherished yearbook.  He clung to it as he got off the school bus.  His one and only request on his last day of school was that Christian and I sign his yearbook.  Knowing there will be a day that I’m not allowed near his yearbook, I was honored to be the first to sign.  I wrote the typical mom stuff. I’m proud of you. You are awesome. Look at what you learned this year.

As soon as Christian got home from work, Cole started following him around with his yearbook and a pen.  “Sign my yearbook please?”  Christian expressed his love and pride for Cole also.  When Christian went to sign the yearbook, he asked Cole how he wanted him to sign his name.  Christian? Bobblehead (a silly nickname Christian acquired from Cole and my niece)? Step-dad?  Cole asked him to sign it as “Dad”….

Cole took his yearbook with him to his dad’s house for his 3 week visit.  I imagine he asked both Brian and Andrea to sign his yearbook also.  Brian saw were Christian signed his name as dad.  This is what prompted his email.  According to his dad, Cole is only allowed to call him dad.  Cole is not allowed to call anyone else (Christian) dad.  Brian doesn’t want to open his yearbook and see it signed dad. He also doesn’t want to hear stories from Cole about when his dad took him fishing.

My heart sank. Already missing Cole this morning, my desire to scoop him up and hold him turned on full force.  I fought back a sudden flood of tears.  My poor Cole.  His love is so simply. It’s so pure. It’s so genuine.  I will never demand that he call or not call anyone by any term of endearment. I want him to love openly.  In my world, Cole has 4 amazing parents who love him.  I’m so thankful for his relationship with his step-mom.  If he wants to call her mom, I embrace the idea…..

…..As soon as Cole asked Christian to sign his yearbook as “dad”, Christian and I both looked at each other surprised. He rarely calls him dad in person.  Occasionally he comes home with a school assignment when he describes Christian as his dad.  Ninety percent of the time he calls him Christian and refers to him as his step dad.

Matching our feelings of surprise was our feeling of pride.  We think of ourselves as a family.  Christian certainly plays the role of dad in Cole’s day-to-day life.  Christian thinks of Cole as his son.  I think we were both touched that Cole wanted Christian to use this term of endearment in her yearbook…..

I can understand Brian’s surprise when he opened up Cole’s yearbook. I can even understand insecurities that may have surfaced. In hindsight, I should have discussed it with him before Cole arrived at their house.  That was my neglect.  What I don’t understand is the demands on placing limitations on how Cole expresses his love.  I hope Brian didn’t already discuss with Cole how he is supposed to address all the parents in his life. I don’t want Cole to feel guilty for his love for Christian.  I hope Brian thought through the process before he reacted emotionally.  I can understand where Brian is coming from.  Cole is leaving in two days.  I can’t imagine not being with him day in and day out.  The routine has to be hard on him emotionally. It is also hard on Cole. No matter where he is living, he is always missing someone. When he is here, he misses Brian.  When he is there, he misses me.  That is a big burden for a 7-year-old to carry.  The last thing I want Cole to carry with him is additional guilt for loving all of his parents equally.

At the end of the day, Cole has 4 parents who love him.  We might have different ideas of how that love should be expressed for Cole, but it all stems from our love for him. In the world of divorced parents, I will gladly take this issue over any other.  I just hope that Cole doesn’t have to be a part of this very adult conversation.

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6 thoughts on “Term of Endearment

  1. This is definitely difficult and it’s always been hard on my mom for sure. I have had a stepmom since I was 18mths old, so she has been a big part of my life. It was an every other weekend kind of thing for me, and I never called her “mom” just “jeane” but I don’t think it will ever get easier for Cole. Sounds like you guys are on a little better terms than when I was growing up, but there will always be a bit of jealousy unfortunately :/ I can see that now that I have kids even more. Just something that parents have to understand…there is enough love for everyone 🙂 🙂

    1. I know I’m sitting on the easy side of this debate. I have Cole year round. I’m lucky enough to go to all his school events. I get to do homework every night. We share good mornings and good nights every day. Cole’s dad and stepmom are wonderful parents too! I know it can’t be easy for them, but I really just want to make it easy for Cole.

  2. I wish there were more parents like you and Christian. I think you hit the nail on the head, why make Cole for bad for “his feelings” you guys didn’t force that he can him that. It’s what his heart wanted. I hope it all works out for you guys!

  3. I remember when John’s ex wife decided she didn’t want to be Mom full time anymore and all 4 of his children came to live with us.
    None of them ever called me Mom.
    20 years later I asked Patricia why and she said she would have felt like she was cheating on her Mother.
    It’s now 30 years later and Susan, the oldest, has called me Mom for quite a while.
    What I did tell Patricia was that I knew I wasn’t her “mother”, you only get one, however you can love many people in your life, in different ways, for different reasons and to love and receive love is why we’re here.
    She was an adult when we had this conversation and said I was right but as a child she couldn’t have seen that.
    I hope Brian gets to a place of acceptance where he realizes other people love Cole and Cole loves other people and he is happy about that. Children should be loved by all who come into their lives and have an effect on them, that is part of the responsibility that goes with love. Brian needs to realizes there is enough love to go around without feeling threatened…he will always be Cole’s Dad.
    Jacob turned me onto your blog and it is delightful.
    Thanks, Violet

    1. Violet! Thank you so much! I think pregnancy hormones have taken over for today. This made me cry. That is exactly what I’ve been trying to say – it just hasn’t come out as beautifully as you just said it. While Cole may or may not understand the conversation you had with Patricia, I think it might be helpful for Christian to say that to Cole every now and then. Parenting is hard. We try so hard to be aware of our parenting choices, but sometimes I have to learn that not everyone is on the same page as us. Thank you again!

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