It was a Sunday evening, and the scene at my dinner table was anything but pleasant. The kids were all snapping at each other, had a hard time sitting still, and were picking at the dinner I had spent the better part of the afternoon preparing. The kids just got back from a weekend with my ex and I was really looking forward to seeing them and spending some quality time together before the bath-books-bed routine started. That was not to be. Unfortunately, this seemed to be the way it was whenever they came back from their weekend visits.
I came to realize that the kids’ behavior was driven by how they were feeling. Each time they would come back home from a visitation weekend would be a reminder to them of the reality that their parents were divorced. While they could not express their feelings, they were grieving the loss of the intact family they once had. Now, their reality was one of separateness, distance, and disruption. Every time they came home forced them to confront this reality, grieve over it, and adjust to it all in a span of one or two hours before bedtime. This reentry into a situation that they didn’t choose, or want, was so difficult for them. They were too young to put those feelings into words, so they would act them out in their agitated, unsettled behavior.
I learned to help them adjust with a few simple strategies. I would meet my ex at a neutral spot, usually a shopping center parking lot, to pick them up. The drive time home helped them begin to adjust. Since I picked them up on Sunday, we would typically go to evening mass before heading home. This, too, would give them time to ease back into their normal routine. (And, hey, having received the Blessed Sacrament always helps a grieving heart!) Before they left for the weekend, and again on the way to pick them up, I would offer them up in prayer to the Blessed Mother. Place your kids under her loving care, and rest in knowing that their innocent hearts are protected from pain, and they will be given the graces they need to adjust and accept whatever life brings their way.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen. – Memorare