kid parent handsAfter becoming a mom, I always wondered what it would be like having to get my son through his first broken heart. I knew that at some point, the day would come that he would feel disappointed and sad, his belief in the absolute goodness and fairness of the world challenged. I wondered, would it happen at school, possibly a friend being mean to him, would it be someone he liked shunning him, or would he maybe lose at something he worked so hard for and believed he would receive. I had no idea when, where, or with who this inevitable moment would occur, but in my wildest dreams, I never thought that his first broken heart would be because of me.

When my son was three years old, his father and I decided to separate, knowing in our hearts that it was far better for our son to see us happy and apart than unhappy and together. This was in no way an easy decision to make, though it was one we knew was necessary. Over the past few years we have struggled through the process of divorce, but have both somehow managed to hold a loving space for our son within our new family system. We have found a way to remain a family unit and have always reminded our son of the love that our family will always share for one another. We have openly communicated with him and provided him a safe space where he can express his feelings to us, no matter what. We have done our best to put him first and create the most loving and positive journey as possible.

Still though, his heart is broken.

I have spent many nights speaking with my son, full of gratitude for his ability and willingness to tell me about his feelings, thoughts, wishes, and dreams. I have listened to his creative ideas on how to bring his family back together. I have held him while he has cried. I have spent many nights crying myself, wishing there was some way I could magically make this all better for him. At the end of the day, there is no easy solution and therefore as his parent, it is my job to be there for him in the way that he needs me to be. To be willing to embrace my own vulnerability by completely opening my heart to him and his process, allowing him the space to heal in the way that is necessary for him.

I have suffered broken hearts throughout my life and have experienced closing my heart as a result. My prayer for my son is that he be able to keep his heart open to love, even though he has had to experience this heartbreak so early in his life. That he continue to see the goodness in the world around him, remain full or hopes and dreams, and believe in the power of love. It is my responsibility to help him through this and guide him in this process. It is my responsibility to make space for him, knowing that he does not understand all of the “adult” details of divorce, to find it within me to get to his level and be with him there.

I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be a reason for my son’s first heartbreak, nor did I ever imagine my ability and strength to be vulnerable and present the way in which I now find myself to be. In our most challenging and most painful moments, we have the opportunity to rise and create beauty. We have the chance to find our gifts and offer them. We have the occasion to dig deep within ourselves and uncover all that we are truly capable of being. As I embody this and hold space for my son, I provide him with an example, a picture of possibility. His heart may be broken, but together we can journey toward healing.

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Jennifer Laurent is an author who writes about life, motherhood and optimism. You can connect with her at her site, and Facebook page

Jennifer’s book, Excerpts from the Heart of a Mom. was released in 2012. Read more and purchase here.