Tonight, I had one of the most dreaded talks I ever anticipate having with my daughter. No, this wasn't the birds and bees (at 7, I think we'd have issues if that were the case). It was a talk on divorce. Not an easy subject to explain to a 7 year old, even though she is far mature for her age. Let me give you a little background on how this all came about.
The kids' father and I have always tried to "co-parent" as best as we could. It's slightly difficult having two separate households, which means two separate everythings. Beds, pillows, toys, rules, food, clothes, routines, and toilet paper (which I am reminded of). However, when one kid has gotten in a fair amount of trouble, we communicate with the other so the punishment can be enforced on both ends. Tonight, I got one of those phone calls. Kassidy, our angel child, had been in trouble at daddy's house. She has been going through some clothing issues and apparently had a total fit, which details I will not reveal, as an attempt to keep her perfect angel persona intact. Regardless, she had a punishment, which I will now have to enforce at my home as well. Their dad had mentioned I may want to chat with her about it. Kassidy and I have always had a special bond which I suppose could come from both being female, her being my first born, or the fact that both of us are princesses. I'm not sure, but pretty sure all 3 combined is the adhesive that coheres our bond.
I took Kassidy into my bedroom and we both laid on our bed and started talking. Tears started welling up in her eyes immediately and now writing this, I am having the same effects. She managed to hold back, but for me, when finally separated from having to be the well put together one, I can't say the same. She told me about getting in trouble and decided it was time to call dad and stepmom and apologize. She did so, and felt better. Afterwards, we continued chatting and somewhere in the conversation, we managed to visit how their dad and I are divorced and she and her brother are bounced around between two houses. She said to me words which will be etched in stone in my heart forever, "Mama, it's hard. Having two houses and all. All the travelling and back and forth." Talk about a dagger to the heart. My response was, "I know, sissy. But your daddy and I did all we could, and sometimes things just don't work." She looked up at me with those sweet brown eyes and said, "I know mama, I know."
After I tucked them both in, I sat down and cried. Is it fair that my children have to go through having two everythings? No. Did I do everything I could? I'd like to think so. Do I really know that it's hard? No. I didn't have divorced parents. Do we try our best to do what's best? Yes. Is it the ideal situation? No. Is it reality? Sadly, yes.
Now, I know that there are millions of children and parents who go through this situation every day. In no way am I saying that our situation is special (well, my kids are) because it's not. But I think any good parent has a certain amount of guilt that they carry with them when they're divorced. Trying to find the right words to say that are both truthful and soothing to a 7 year old is not easy. And when they tell you something is hard that YOU have done to them, you cannot help but feel guilty. Even though they're kids and they're resilient, it's not ideal. Both of my children are keenly aware of their surroundings and the fact that not all children have two homes. I've always tried to sell it that they were special because not every kids had two houses. My kids have outgrown that now, and it's time to face the truth. You don't have two houses because you're special, you have two houses because your parents couldn't make it work. While their dad and I don't blame one another, speak highly of one another to the kids, and respect each other, we still failed our children in a round-about way. Now, all I can do is continue to work with their dad to raise the best children we can, while apart.