Going through a divorce is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Going through the process, you’re constantly battling the voice inside saying, “Is this right thing to be doing?” Then, you’re often alternating between relief and intense grief all while putting on a brave face for your children.
And speaking of those, I have 4 ranging in age from 12 years old to 6 months old.
My older children understand what’s happening, and my heart breaks for their loss.
My younger children don’t really know what’s happening.
My toddler cries for her daddy every night—bedtime was his sacred ritual with her—or tells me she’s going to dream of daddy. My infant doesn’t know anything is wrong. My heart breaks for the “together family” they won’t ever remember.
All in all, it sucks. All of it just sucks.
As a parent, announcing the news of our divorce was one of the worst things I’ve had to do, but in general, I was prepared for it.
I’d read all of the literature and rehearsed as best I could, but there are a few questions I really just didn’t expect to get right out of the gate.
Are you going to get remarried?
This question was one that I thought might get asked eventually, but I don’t know that I was as prepared for it this early on.
Part of me wanted to vehemently deny that I’ll ever remarry.
I mean, I’m fresh out of a marriage that I didn’t want to end, and I am so exhausted by my marriage in general that the idea of doing it all again sounds truly horrifying.
I also still very much love my ex-husband.
However, I don’t know what future me will think. I suspect I won’t ever remarry, but I can’t guarantee it, so the last thing I want to do is set some expectation that may not be emotionally helpful to my children down the road.
My answer to them was almost exactly that.
I told my kids that right now my focus is on them and working better as a team with their dad. I said that right now I don’t plan to remarry, and while that might change down the road, it’s not something they need to worry about anytime soon.
That’s something I can most definitely promise.
Is it already done? Have you signed the paperwork yet?
Standing in the kitchen a week after the initial announcement, my oldest daughter, a 12 year old, asked me, “So, mom… is the divorce already done? Like have you already signed the paperwork?”
I was initially taken aback.
Honestly, I didn’t really think she had even known about what the divorce process looked like, but she’s a smart cookie, so in hindsight I really shouldn’t have been so surprised.
Do you still love Daddy?
When I first broke the news to the kids, we were sitting down at the dinner table. My toddler played with her food, throwing it on the floor for the dog to greedily scarf down, and the baby sat on my knee teething on the side of my thumb.
My stomach was in my throat the whole time.
This was one of the first questions my older middle little asked me. She’s just 7 years old, and her poor little face looked so sad and fallen as she asked it.
I know a few decades ago parents were encouraged to say they didn’t love each other anymore or that their love for each other had changed.
But this felt so dishonest to me.
More than that, their father is part of them. If I don’t love him anymore, will they think I don’t love the parts of him that I see in them?
So I simply told them, “Yes, baby. I still very much love your daddy. I always will.”
Is our family broken now?
Cue flashbacks of Lilo and Stitch.
Growing up in a family that never really felt functional and eventually was split by divorce, this one really hit me hard.
I did everything I could to avoid divorce.
In the end, it just wasn’t working, and I needed distance to heal and find peace for myself and my children.
It absolutely feels like our family is broken right now, and I’m not sure when that feeling will go away.
I’m sure we’ll find our new normal, and eventually it all won’t feel so broken, but right now all I could say was yes, we’re a little broken right now and that’s okay.
All I can do is reassure my kids that it won’t be like this forever and broken doesn’t mean unfixable.
“Do you want to hear my sad news?”
All of my children are processing the divorce differently. My oldest is very much like me and retreats within her own thoughts to process things, asking me questions and voicing concerns as she mulls things over.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, my youngest is just a baby and doesn’t really know what she should be missing, while my toddler has been pushing boundaries more than usual and cries for daddy every night at bedtime.
My older middle little makes morbid jokes when she’s feeling casual about it and seeks out physical touch and closeness when she’s feeling sad.
She’s also the one who feels the need to tell everyone her sad news.
While these questions were difficult to answer (and hear), there were a few heartwarming moments that gave me hope.
My 7 year old laughed that it would be cool if Daddy could be our neighbor, and they both thought it sounded fun to have two houses and their own rooms at both houses.
They were also very excited that their dad and I had decided that family holidays should now and forever be shared together because, as we tell them, “No matter what we’re always a family.”
We haven’t been the best example of a good married couple lately, but I believe that in time we will be better co-parents…
And that the awkward questions about divorce take me less by surprise.