Family

Making It to the Lake, and Other Challenges of Helping Your Daughter During Divorce

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This post about helping adult children through divorce was written by Tracey Dee Rauh.

I wake up on the top bunk, tangled in sheets and stuffed animals, a comforter and a baby blanket, too.

I hear murmurs from the hallway, my daughter getting ready for work, trying to keep her voice down as Isaac, my 4-year-old grandson, is unable to do. His energy comes out in bursts, today to recount a dream about Spider Man being real, and ask if he can have Gummies for breakfast.

I yawn, glance through an open window and guess it’s about 7:30. I sleep in Isaac’s bed after he sneaks in with his mother.

He’s adjusting to his parents living apart. It’s been a few months and he’s settling into a routine that involves much bigger doses of me as I try to help my daughter navigate being a single mom, employed full-time, and pregnant with a third child. It’s a girl.

The ceiling is too close and I always smack my head. I’m trying to shake off sleep and focus on the day: Isaac and Ilyana—my 10-year-old granddaughter—don’t have daycare or camp, so I’m taking over.

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We’re going to the lake, I’ve decided. And then I remember—oh no.

“Jaden?”

“What?”

“I don’t have a car.”

I’m not kidding. How this came to be is symbolic of this life. It’s not that we are air-headed; it’s just that details can be overlooked—in this case a rather critical detail, like the need for transportation.

How this happened is that I drove with my fiancé for a family get-together. We hadn’t planned for me to stay over and were so wrapped up in cooking, cleaning, chatting and children that I forgot when I kissed him goodbye that I was also bidding farewell to the only vehicle available to me.

I navigate the bunk-bed stairs and find my cell phone to call Mark.

“They’ll pick you up if you rent a car,” he says.

As I realize this is the solution, I discover that Isaac loaded up his marshmallow shooter and is attacking me, leaving dozens of mini-white things on the floor.

“I got you, Cey Cey.” He laughs from the belly when he says this.

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In the next three hours I contact the neighbor to watch the kids; secure an SUV; ride over back roads with a chatty driver who accepts cell phone calls while transporting me and warns about leeches; and gain keys to the SUV. It’s just about then I realize something else is missing.

“What will it cost me to rent a carseat?” I ask.

“We don’t carry them here,” he says.

Now I’m in Walmart reading labels for child seats and deciding we need more beach toys, a life jacket appropriate for Isaac’s improving swimming, circular floaties, and Baby Bottle Pop candy. I stuff it into the hatchback.

Back at home, Ilyana is on the stoop, all legs and arms. Oversized eyeglasses, tints of blue in her hair, high-top sneakers and bright, patterned leggings offer a glimpse into the teenager she will become.

It’s a struggle to assemble the car seat but with a few good punches we get the head-rest into the body. When I’m strapping them all in, I can’t believe it’s only 11.

I am 55 years old and having flashbacks to my own life as a single mom of two.

“Off to the first leg of our adventure,” I say.

“We have a lot of adventures,” Ilyana answers.

Yes, we do, I think, catching my breath and wondering what the next one will be.

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