ChiMomWriter is a writer, marketer, mother, fundraiser, marathoner, wine drinker and music lover. She is notorious for doing things the hard way, and survives suburban exile by blogging about life’s foibles at It Builds Character.
“Austin, we have to make sure that Mommy is really happy.”
Those were the words that drifted towards me when I passed my four-year-old daughter’s room. She was talking to her two-year-old brother.
For her age, she is eerily perceptive. She’s the one who, even at two, would ask me, “What’s that face?” when she didn’t understand my expression. Always eager for my attention, she is the first to read when I’m sad or angry, often coming over to hug me and tell me it’ll all be okay.
Her sweet voice and words make me smile, but more than that, the weight of its meaning breaks my heart.
My divorce from their dad finalized a few weeks ago. Although it’s been six months since we’ve lived under the same roof, it’s been much longer since my children have seen parents who are comfortable being in each other’s company.
When my son, still so much our baby, comes home and cries that he wants Daddy, how do I find the right vocabulary to explain to him why this is our reality?
When my daughter asks why I have a different last name and why we can’t all ever live together again, how do I hide the pain I feel for her?
Some days, I fail. That afternoon I had tried to hide, crumpled in my room. Abby’s appearance next to my bed just fed my sobs, as I bit my fist to try to keep from wailing and scaring her more. She retreated to her room and came back with her favorite things: Bear and Lovey. My endlessly chattering daughter, silent, crawled up beside me and lay there. So still.
When she left, I finally managed to calm my breathing. I washed my face and headed out to try to find words to articulate why she had witnessed that. It was then that I heard my daughter, explaining to her brother how they needed to take care of me.
This is what keeps me up at night. What if the mother I am right now, not quite on my feet, causes more hurt for my children?
Intellectually, I know the divorce was the right move for our family. But the pain and hurt and sadness are not done just because the paperwork finalized. My children are already paying the price for their parents’ inability to salvage their marriage, and I worry about my children seeing their mother’s anguish up close.
I am supposed to care for them and provide the messaging they need: that we both love them no matter what and will protect them. I am supposed to have the strength to guard my words around two delicate children who are trying so hard to heal.
More days are okay than not. Still, that anxiety has already been placed in my daughter, and that feeling of responsibility. How do I take that away?
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