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Monday, May 04, 2015

The Daily Chai and Children of Divorce, Part 3

Today's latte is a dream of tomorrow. I may have used that one already, sorry.

I just put my girl to bed after reading a couple chapters from The Magician's Elephant, a strange but lovely tale about "What if?" Afterwards, we chatted about the book and then she said she hugged daddy today and started to cry and she didn't know why. I said it was probably because she had just scraped her knee so badly falling off her scooter and she was probably still upset about that. She shook her head and said, "No, I'm pretty sure it was because I'm upset that you guys are getting a divorce." and her face crumpled up and she started to cry. She asked me why we had to get divorced and why can't we just get back together and everyone would be happy?

We've been separated six months now and there is no talk of reconciliation. We are both set on our current course, headed for actual divorce. He has told me himself that he'd liked to get things wrapped up as soon as possible so we can both move on and I agree. I have specific reasons why I do not want to reconcile with him and I'm sure he has his. The problem is, they are grown-up reasons and not ones I can divulge to a nine year old, especially when they are about her dad. So I said to her, "Yes Kate, we could get back together, we could try to forgive each other and make it work. But being together is not going to miraculously make us all happy again. We resent each other now and eventually we would hate each other. Do you want to live with us hating each other, both of us miserable and blaming the other person for that misery?" She shook her head no, but asked, "Why? Why do you resent each other, why would you hate each other?"

"Baby girl, I can't tell you the reasons why. They are grown up reasons and would be hard for you to understand. But they are also things that would be nasty to say to you about your father. Grown ups have complicated relationships, especially ones that last as long as ours did. There are many, many reasons why this is happening, but I can't tell you any of them. Maybe when you are older, I can explain some of it to you, but right now, I don't want to make you feel bad about your dad. I don't want to slam him or blame him for everything.

"But it's okay to be sad about this. It's okay to cry. Because honestly, this is probably the worst thing that will happen to you during your childhood. But I will tell you something. You are lucky because your dad wants to be part of your life. My dad left me when I was 15 years old and he never looked back. I didn't spend weekends with him and he never paid child support to help my mum raise me. He just left one day and that was that. I talked to him sometimes and I would visit him occasionally, but he didn't care about maintaining a relationship with either me or my mom. We never really became close again until I was an adult. So I know this sucks, but your dad and I still love you and we both want to be the best parents we can be for you. That's the only promise I can make to you right now."

We were both crying at this point and I hugged her and kept telling her how sorry I was for this and how I didn't want her to have to go through this, but life happens and relationships fall apart.

Like I said, it's been six months. We are all still adjusting to the new normal. Kate, like me, has her good days and bad days. Most of the time she is my saucy, sassy, sarcastic, funny, silly girl. She's going to be okay, I know it. But today was a good reminder that I need to watch her, I need to be sensitive to what she's going through, because this isn't just the breakdown of my life and my marriage. It's her life and family too. It's all she's ever known and suddenly it was ripped out from underneath her with not even a by-your-leave. At least I had a choice, I could have chosen to stay after all. Kate and Anna had no choice, but their lives are falling apart the same way.


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