There are a few conversations in life that you never want to have. Death is one of them, Separation is another. To tell your children, the little people you created in love with all intentions to protect and provide for, is beyond devastating....but as everything it is exactly WHAT YOU MAKE IT. It, like happiness, or lunch, or perspective, is a choice.
We had great intentions to talk to therapists, and get verbiage, and guidance. We had great plans, and then I had a knowing. (if you know me, lately, #TheSenseHasSpoken ha!) and I had unbelievable trust in myself, and how well-adjusted these girls are. We told them last night.
As I had a restless sleep last night, processing everything we've done, and where we are, I couldn't get the Jeff Buckley version of "Hallelujah" out of my head. Specifically, "Love is not a victory march, it's a cold and its a lonely, Hallelujah." I showed my daughter the song, and without ANY practice, she pulled up the words, and the karaoke version and this happened:
Eyes filling with pride-tears, I know....She's going to be fine. We all are.
All of us on our bed, I began. I spoke lightly, and from the perspective of matter-of-fact top level that was age appropriate. We laughed, and my five year old made jokes and said she "had a hair stuck in her butt." I kept waiting for the house to explode and someone to yell: "Cut! New take!" It was too calm.
When my husband and I first got together fifteen years ago, we swore "We'll do it differently. We'll learn from our lives WHAT NOT TO DO." and last night, post talk....we sat in quiet, melancholic pride that we have kept our promise. NEVER have we screamed or fought in front of them, NEVER have we spoken poorly of each other, or ignored each other, or used sarcasm and contempt. Kids hear it all. They feel everything. Even when shit feels weird, We've acknowledged it, because NOT to, is to invalidate, or teach them that their instincts are wrong.
I joked...."Listen, Dad can't get rid of me, we are connected by you guys and our best-friendship."
He made a great point to them that "No one goes into marriage thinking it will end." We laid the fluffy but fundamental foundation that we will NEVER not love each other, and that NONE of it is their fault. Never will be, never was.
In contrast, we told them that they,
"our beautiful, amazing and smart children are THE BEST part of who we are together."
I asked them: "Have you ever seen us fight? Yell? Raise our voices?" Both little girls shook their heads, no. I followed up with: "Ok....So why would we start now?!" and they laughed. Relief and understanding.
My oldest (singing above) said: "Mom, you don't do anything like anyone else....you're crazy." (too many would agree in less endearing ways) She continued: "You don't look like anyone else, or dance or talk like anyone else, YOU'LL do this YOUR way." I laughed so hard it broke all fears and tensions. She gets it.
There were moments of sadness. The five year old teared up and asked if she'll every see daddy again. I grabbed her and laughed: "You're silly! Of course! You'll see him all the time! Even when he moves out, you'll see him THE NEXT DAY!" I further explained that ONLY TEAM US can decide how this goes. We don't do anything "normally", and this is ours to navigate.
They asked questions, we answered. I told them if I ever, EVEN ONCE hear them say that any of this is their fault, or is remotely ABOUT them (good or bad) that.....Dad will tickle attack them until they can't breathe. With this, they were giggly. Surreal.
THIS IS NOT THEIRS. BRINGING GROWN UP EMOTIONS OR HURT, SADNESS AND ANGER OFFER THEM NOTHING. NOTHING.
I looked them both hard in the eyes, "We deal with grown up stuff, but our job is to make this easy, comfortable and have minimal change." That "I never want to see either of you pretend. If you're mad, be MAD! If you're not, and you feel fine. That's fine too. Our job is to allow and promote their happiness, it's the goal." I had to follow up with "Don't think that gets you bribes or anything you want. I'm still me....the disciplinary, with rules, and real life, but I am here no matter what."
The 9 year old said to the 5 year old:
"Mom is going to really really talk about feelings NOOOOOON-stop. Like, until we get sick of hearing ourselves."
With that, I knew we hadn't failed. We had done something right.
All the times we felt cheated, or hurt, or had to stuff feelings down for the greater good. All the times I felt betrayed, angry or hopeless, all the moments he had to push down the fury and the complicated hurt of lies and broken promises....WE PUT THEM FIRST. We have never milked "The Victim" role. Or played "Martyr." I won't teach my kids to manipulate or play off other's pity. Nor would my husband. EVER. Tonight, that paid back in spades.
Nothing is pretty about life transitions like this. No celebrations, or high-fives, but in full honesty, this could NOT have gone better. There will indeed be days that drown us, that spin out of control, or break our hearts, but last night was the universe reminding us...
In all the perceived failure. WE DID SOMETHING RIGHT. CHOOSE peace. CHOOSE love. CHOOSE protecting the things you can control with MIGHT and COMPASSION. I'm not saying our way is "right" or "better". I'm not an expert, or a psychologist. I'm a mom of three, soon to be a single-parent, and I choose to show by example that THIS is OK, and no way will they take on my failure, regrets or pain. Never. If you are put off that I'm not seeming more sad or broken, that's yours, not mine. I applaud anyone choosing positivity. I respect all those going through this, or have before me. I make no apologies for doing it "My way."
....So the new road begins. With a "Hallelujah" this morning. Chloe begged me to harmonize with her. I'm not in the mood to sing, but I complied. It's not our best, it's not perfect, but it felt beautiful, unscripted and redeeming for the morning after. I will not fail at motherhood.
Come hell, high-water, all the haters who try to convince me I'm terrible, or horrible, or without morals and faith and high-standards, I will NOT FAIL. I will not be the things people want to believe. I am me. Fallible, open, and not "doing the best I can."
I'm going BEYOND, and attempting the incredible....I am, WE are, going to thrive and live authentically with open hearts, empathy and bright beaming lights of the love we all share. Hate, anger, and ill-wishing is for the birds, or the minions that think they know me, my heart, or my family.