I spent 16 years married to the man I once believed was the love of my life and my soulmate. We met as teenagers, and were a couple for more than 24 years when we separated. Together we brought three beautiful children into this world, so I will never regret the time we spent married. Not for a moment.
With that said, coming to terms with how a relationship of such epic proportion could so quickly and callously come to an end has been nothing short of emotionally grueling. Worse, I remained powerless as my three children suffered alongside of me, trying to reconcile their own feelings about why their parents were splitting. Like any mother, I wanted nothing more than to kiss each of my children on the forehead and make all of their pain go away.
In this case, a kiss would not be enough.
We spent months in therapy. Doing so was the best decision I could have made – for all of us. When can having an impartial ear to listen and guide you toward thinking positively about your future ever be a wrong choice?
Time is eventually what healed us, though we wear our battle scars and are still vey much fighting our way back. Today we live our lives. We have our ups and our downs just like everyone else. Fortunately, the good times outnumber the bad.
The hurt does, however, linger. On some level it always will, as well as the longing for answers to those questions that have since gone unanswered, or to questions whose answers do not suffice. My children deserve better. We all do.
My nine year-old recently asked about the details of my divorce. His questions were undeniably tough ones, and dredged up a lot of old emotion for me. They also let me know that the fallout from this divorce is far from over and that we are all still very much a work in progress. I am by no means a mental health professional. I am simply a mom who, like so many other moms, wants the best for her kids. So I tried to be as honest as possible with my son, keeping his age in mind.
Like a lot of other divorced parents, my ex husband and I do not always see eye to eye. Yet, for the sake of our children, I have made it a point to put our differences aside when discussing their dad with them. That has not always been the case but, for the benefit of our children, I have discovered that it is truly the best way.
My ex may no longer be my husband, but he will forever be my children’s father. It is important that my children, particularly my son, be able to positively identify with their dad without bearing the burden of the choices he and I made in terms of our custody arrangement, one which presently gives me full physical custody the majority of the time. Here are 14 questions my son asked me, and the candid responses I gave him in return.
1. Why am I growing up without a father? You’re not growing up without a father. You’re growing up without a father who lives in the same house with you. It’s not the same.
2. Why did Daddy leave? Daddy left home because he and I weren’t getting along and we couldn’t agree on some important decisions. Those decisions had nothing to do with you or with anything that you did. Daddy didn’t leave you. He moved out.
3. Did you want Daddy to leave? No. At first I wanted him to stay. But that wasn’t going to be possible. So we decided it was best for all of us if we lived in separate houses.
4. Do you wish Daddy were here? I wish Daddy were here for you. So you could spend more time with him.
5. Do you miss Daddy? I have a lot of happy memories with Daddy both before and after you were born. When I think about the past, sometimes I miss those good times.
6. Do you want Daddy to come home? No. Daddy and I decided that it would be best if he didn’t live here anymore. Sometimes people are happier living apart than they are living together. That doesn’t mean we love you any less.
7. Do you love Daddy? There are many different kinds of love. I care about Daddy very much and want him to be happy.
8. Are you in love with Daddy? No. I was once, but not anymore.
9. When did you fall out of love with Daddy? That’s hard to say. People aren’t in love with each other one day and then not the next. Falling in and out of love happens over time, and not because of one specific reason. What happened between Mommy and Daddy has nothing and, I repeat, nothing to do with you. We will both always love you no matter what.
10. Did you love Daddy when I was born? Yes, very much. And we were both so happy you became a part of the family!
11. What do you like about Daddy? Daddy is extremely smart and works hard. He likes to read a lot, just like you. And he’s fun to talk to because he has many different interests. He also has a big heart. When I think of those qualities, you remind me a lot of him.
12. Does Daddy love me? Daddy loves you very much. He’s so proud that you’re his son. We couldn’t have asked for a better little boy.
13. Do I look like Daddy? Yes. You have Daddy’s small nose, his mouth, and his cheeks. And you have many of his expressions.
14. If he saw me crying would he come home? No, he wouldn’t. I’m so sorry.
By far the toughest answer of all.
Do you know how your children feel about your divorce?
- What One Nine Year-Old Boy Really Wants From His Divorced Dad
- 5 Reasons Mother’s Day Was Better Before My Parents’ Divorce
- And Then There Were Four: When Daddy Goes Home
- Visiting Tulum: Revisiting The Past And Reinventing The Future
This article appeared on the Huffington Post February 17, 2014.