It’s okay. I’m okay. It’s okay that I’m okay. The past two weeks have been a blur of emotions, highs and lows, thinking thoughts I never thought I’d have and saying things I never thought I’d say. But with him now moved out and The Conversation now behind us, I’m actually feeling okay. And I have to constantly remind myself that I don’t have to live in constant sorrow and grief anymore…and that it’s okay for me to start to feel okay about this.
If you’ve been following my story, you know that the idea of sitting our little girl down to tell her that mommy and daddy were not going to be married or living with each other anymore had been tearing me up inside. The anxiety leading up to that night was the heaviest weight I have ever carried. I couldn’t stand the thought that I was about to turn my sweet little girl’s world upside down.
And then that night came. He called me in tears on the way home from work and I couldn’t get a single word of comfort out of my mouth – I was frozen. Numb from thinking and feeling the weight of this for so long. This entire experience, the entire process, seemingly hinged on this one conversation and her subsequent reaction. We got home, got settled, and put the baby down to bed. I closed the door to the nursery, took a long, deep breath, looked at him, then took his hand. We asked her to join us in her room for a little chat. Intrigued, she followed us into her room where we cuddled up on her fluffy white rug on the floor.
We told her we had something important to tell her. She squeezed her shoulders up to her ears, clasped her hands together at her chin, grinned and squinted her eyes as if we were about to give her a big special surprise or tell her Santa is coming.
“Sweetheart… you know how much Mommy and Daddy love you, right?”
“YESSSSSS!” squealing with delight.
“Well, you know that no matter what happens, we will always love and cherish you – even when things change – and you will always be our special girl, right?”
“…Yes?” she responded, her hands and shoulders falling.
“And you know how we have been talking about all the different kinds of families – like how some of your friends have two mommies, and some have two daddies, and some kids only have a mommy or a daddy, and some, like your cousins, have their mom in one house and their dad in another house?”
“Well, we have decided together that we will be a better family if Mommy and Daddy live in separate houses. So what THAT means, is that we are also going to be a different kind of family from now on. Daddy is going to get a NEW house and he is going to be living there.”
“Daddy’s getting a NEW HOUSE???”
“Yep, and it has a POOL and a PARK!”
“Oh my goodness, I love you mommy and I love you daddy – I love my family and you are my BEST FRIENDS.” She hugs us both and asks for a family hug. He and I exchange a puzzled, yet relieved look.
“We love you too, sweetheart. And we want you to know that you will always be with your brother. And that you will still get to see your friends at school every day, and you will still go to dance class and gymnastics, and you will still see your grandmas and your grandpas and aunts and uncles. You’ll still get to go swimming and ride your bike. Everything will be the same, except you and your brother will sometimes sleep at daddy’s house and sometimes sleep at mommy’s house.”
And that was it. And then her baby brother woke up and we had a dance party to Ben Lee’s, “Catch My Disease” because, why not. I couldn’t have possibly predicted it would have transpired the way it did…message delivered, no tears, big hugs, a little dance party, and more importantly…DONE. I passed out about 20 minutes later.
So now, with the weight of that piece behind me, my house back to myself again, his life and energy gradually unraveling from mine…I have ever so slowly begun to have moments, sometimes hours, perhaps even entire days, where I feel okay. I have gradually started to see this whole situation as everyone has been desperately encouraging me to – as a blessing, a new beginning. Understanding it is still going to be incredibly hard, knowing that their first night at daddy’s and my first night alone in the house still lays out in front of me like a huge orange flashing light, and knowing the kids still have a lifetime of processing to do. Even with all of this ahead of me, I have started to see the difficult decision that he courageously made for us – for himself, for me and for the kids – as a gift.
And someday, when the kids inevitably ask about what happened with us, I hope that I can explain retrospectively that while it was a very difficult decision to separate our family, that it was a gift that we gave to them and to ourselves. Just like – I will explain – many years ago an expecting mother made a very difficult decision. She selflessly chose to give the baby girl she was carrying inside of her to two strangers in Minnesota who desperately wanted a baby to love and care for and raise in their home. And while that decision was incredibly difficult for her, and while many people couldn’t understand why she would do such a thing, when we look back now we can see that from her decision, an incredibly precious gift was given to everyone involved.
I will explain to them then, that this little baby girl was their mommy. And that because of that selfless act, they now have three devoted sets of grandparents and more family to love and support them than they could ever ask for. I will explain to them that sometimes we have to make decisions that hurt and tear us apart and make things really icky for a while, and sometimes they simply don’t seem to make any sense. And for a while people might think we’re crazy or terrible people, or both. But if you follow your heart and have faith that what you’re doing is right, when you look back and connect the dots, you will see that there was a purpose to your decision. And somewhere beneath the chaos, as time goes by and the fog begins to clear, you will discover the gift that was born from the painstaking but faithful decision you made. And when that happens, you can smile and see for yourself…that it is all going to be okay.