Last weekend my first baby graduated from High School. Resoundingly, the question friends and family members have posed is; are you sad?
The answer is no. I'm not a bit sad. I have always seen graduation, for him, as moving on to the next adventure. When the next adventure is a four year stint at a great public University, about what would I be sad? If the next adventure was moving to an apartment to eek out a living, yes, then I would be sad. But college is the extension of childhood with the freedom of being an adult. It's truly the best time. I'm happy for him and what he's going to experience. I'm not at all sad for the tiny world he is leaving behind. In fact, I'd be sad if he didn't leave it behind.
The reality of his adulthood and the closing of childhood hit me when he turned 18. It came in the form of a seemingly innocent letter, generated every time a child who has a custody agreement in our state turns 18. The letter basically informed me that his Father and I am no longer obligated to provide health insurance for him. For some reason it hit me like a ton of bricks. He was 18. The protections a parent gives a child no longer apply. If, for example, he were ever questioned by the police, he will have to know to request an attorney. At 17, he's less responsible. At 17, if his Father decided to be a cheapskate and not cover him, i could simply take his Father to court and force the matter. But at 18, I can't. I no longer have the legal power to protect him. And that means, i can't shield him from the wild cruel world of bills, debt, consequence and the like. The fact hit me with that simple letter back in January. I've had months to adjust. So the actual graduation did not make me sad.
On a personal level, his graduation brought me a great deal if joy. While I maintain the relationship with him, I am also completely freed of the relationship with his Father. I feel like the shackles have been unlocked. No more threats, no more fear, no more access to my life whatsoever. In fact, if his Father attempts to have any access, I contact my attorney and get a protection order. Why? This is a man who's got a history, not just with me but with other women. Yes, multiple other women. When he gets dumped, he loses control and attempts to make us regret it. After I tried to leave, he physically prevented it. He stole my car, broke all the phones and I didn't get out until the police came and got me out. Then he checked himself into a mental hospital to avoid prosecution. If it happened today, he'd go to jail for domestic violence. Because it happened 14 years ago, it was a domestic review. I had the chance to terminate his parental rights at that point. I opted not to for my son. I don't regret the choice, for my son. I do regret it on a personal level. He's been involved in my life when all I wanted was for him to disappear. Now, he can. Sure, he'll be around for events. But, he can't take me to court. He can't show up in my driveway. If I move, he doesn't need to know where. He has zero legal access to me. Therefore, I am free. Attempting to gain access any other way, will be a problem for him. And since our son is 18 and out of the house, he no longer offers his Father the protection of having me go easy on the creep so as not to hurt my son. Meaning, if he comes around me ever? I'm throwing the book at him. Gloves are off. Go to jail you creep. I think he's smart enough to know that so I doubt there will ever be an issue. But, I am no longer a hostage of the legal system and bound to the guy.
The graduation ceremony was very nice and my joy for my son and myself was apparent. All the excitement of a bright future was in the air. All the laying to rest of a past that couldn't be done soon enough was in the air too. He graduated from high school. Although I am sure the exes will make their appearance in a silly sort of, "we're friends now," way; I just don't care. Be friends. Just stay away from me and my new family. Without the legal leverage of two against one, you're nothing but an ugly memory and cannot have a negative impact on my life. Sure the one has some legal say, but he's made enough serious mistakes that if he tries anything, he'll go down in a ball of flames. It's either a peaceful coparenting situation or I will win. Farewell tag team. Farewell creepy. Hello happy ending and freedom. Hello future. His graduation was the best day in his life and a wonderful day in mine.