Sunday, March 24, 2013

Telling the Kids Mom and Dad are Splitting Up

No one ever imagines on their wedding day that anything other than a pile of bricks smashing down on your head will be the end of "Til' death do us part". It never even occurs to you that the day in, day out stress of daily living can be just as deadly. But it can. In fact, in many ways, it can be so much worse.

How do I know? Because as of yesterday, that reality belongs to me. It was nothing sudden. In fact, it was my choice, a decision made after almost a year and a half of careful deliberation. After nine years of marriage, misunderstandings and miscommunication, arguments and endless, endless misery and silence that screams overtop of any words either of us could have said, I finally said enough. I'd rather BE alone than be married and FEEL alone. Do you know what I mean?

I thought the hardest part would be telling my spouse I was moving out and taking the kids with me. I was sort of right. After days upon end of arguing about it, however, I was finally able to plead my case. Even if he didn't entirely agree, he knew where I was coming from. We'd both been doing marriage wrong, and we both agreed that I was well within my rights to say I wanted the marriage I signed up for, or I wanted out.

Those hurdles were hard to jump, but now that we're over them, going to counseling, and dating while living apart, it's a decision we're coming to terms with. The hardest part, however, was telling the kids.

It wasn't that they melted down when I told them. In fact, Princess C was absolutely thrilled at the idea of getting to decorate her new bedroom. But there are always questions you don't really want to answer, and I keep sitting on pins and needles waiting for one of them to come up.

They never did. Maybe it's because we decided to keep things simple. Rather than dragging each other through the mud, we laid it on the line. It didn't matter whose fault it was. It didn't matter who had finally put the nail in the coffin. They don't need to be caught in the middle of that. We simply told them that Mom and Dad needed to live apart for a while. Neither of us hated the other, we were still going to spend time with them, and we were still going to spend time with each other. Their lives were going to stay as normal as possible.

So far, they're okay with that. We moved the furniture in yesterday. I've gotten a few "I miss Daddy"'s. Mr. A is angling to spend as much time at Dad's as possible, although I strongly suspect that has less to do with Dad than the fact that we left his computer over there. (Given that video game addiction was one of the biggest nails in the coffin of my marriage, it wasn't hard to make the decision that computer games were something fun that could happen at Dad's house instead of something that would fill each day, every day here at home.) G-money hasn't said much about it, one way or the other, except to say that he wasn't used to this new place yet and it was a little discombobulating.

It helps, I think, that my husband and I are still feeling our way. We're going to counseling, and we're still sweet and affectionate in front of the kids. He brought them over yesterday after we moved stuff in and stayed for dinner. We all ate dinner over at his place tonight, and he helped me bring the cats back over (and offered to stay to de-worm them.) He'll stop by most nights to help me tuck them into bed, and I'll do the same on nights they're over there. We have a pretty good visitation agreement worked out-two nights a week and every other weekend-, but we're not sticking to that like glue.

Although given the fact that my in-laws are coming to town next week-my weekend with the kids-and my mother in law has been very vocal in her disapproval of the whole thing, I'm kind of wishing we would. But I'm looking forward to seeing my nephews again, so it's really not that bad.

My hope is that even if we don't stay married, keeping things close and friendly and making sure both of us are still a large part of their lives will make it easier on the kids once they've had a chance to adjust. Anyone out there have any advice to help a mom keep her peace of mind?

1 comment:

Libby Baker Sweiger said...

Renee, Love you! I have some sort-of advice...My parents were divorced when I was ten and you're doing a lot of things right. Lots of things. Mainly not blaming anyone and staying friends, especially in front of the kids. So essential. I'm giving this to you from the child's perspective. My parents divorced in the 60's when no one was getting divorced and they did so many things right. I saw my dad every weekend, unheard of, way before shared custody. Was with him on school breaks and holidays. And he only moved one suburb over from us. We were always an integral part of his life and the center of our mom's. They never disagreed in front of us. They were friends first and foremost and good parents always. They raised four pretty terrific kids together, and I'm sure it wasn't easy, but we were not burdened with the difficulties of it.

Divorce is hard on kids and there will be fall-out believe me, there always is. Stay strong, stay courageous. Love them and each other with all the friendship muscle you have and your family will be okay. Ours was! Love you always! Lib