An Open Apology To My Kids On The Subject Of My Divorce

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divorce

I am sorry we failed. I will forever feel guilty that we broke your home and world apart. I know it’s ultimately for the best, but I know, and you have explicitly told me, that you would rather us all live together with some tension than separately tension-free. You don’t know that I was no longer living and now you have a mother, when before I could barely breathe. I know at 7 and 10 you want your mom and dad together and for that I am so sorry.

I am sorry you have to move back and forth between two homes. Going away for a weekend causes stress when I pack. I plan what I need: clothing, jewelry, shoes, jackets, electronics and toiletries. You are forced to move several times a week and you don’t complain. If something is needed from the other house you make due without or mention it without reprimand or annoyance. You are always in one car going to another house. It’s exhausting for me and I am sure it is for you. I created this and I am sorry.

I’m sorry you will have to deal with the uncomfortable and embarrassing reality of your dad and I dating, loving, kissing and hugging someone other than your mom or dad. It will be great for you to see what a stable and healthy relationship is. But, I get that lesson is not top of mind for you. Affection between parents is nauseating enough for kids and teenagers. To bear witness to your mom or dad with their girlfriend or boyfriend must be even more skin crawling.

I’m sorry that even though your dad and I are really good at not putting you in the middle, your reality inherently makes you smack dab in the thick of it. If we were married and you went out for a day with dad and had fun, great! Now sentences start with “no offense mom but I had the best time…with daddy and my cousins.” No offense taken, my heart is filled whenever you have good quality time with your dad and extended family, on either side. My heart breaks a little that somewhere inside, you feel a twinge of guilt for it.

I am sorry that you miss me at bedtime, are lonely sometimes in your new home, miss your dad when we go on vacation and have to always think about whose house you are sleeping in tonight. I’m sorry you have to tell your friends you have two homes, grasp for words to describe our significant others and have to spend every holiday split. I’m sorry that even though we try to handle it all behind the scenes, you still wind up being the western union, relaying messages back and forth. You are people, not robots, and I’m sorry that just because today is Tuesday and that is “my day”, doesn’t mean you don’t want to hang with Dad. And maybe on a Thursday, “dad day”, you want some time with me. You don’t have the luxury of having complete access to your parents. As you go to bed on your 10th birthday with tears in your eyes and tell me that now you have a to wait 365 days until you can get one dinner with just your dad, sister and me and how it really sucks that you only get that once a year, I am more sorry than you will ever know.

I’m mostly sorry that I am not a child of divorce. I know what it’s like to be left out from a group of friends, not be picked first for a team, feel insecure, lonely or do poorly on a test. I know what it feels like to be teased, want the skirt your friend has or wish you were allowed to watch a movie that I keep saying no to. I know what it’s like to want chocolate and not carrots, be annoyed with your sister, or brother, have a great day and want to run home and tell both parents. I know how it feels to yearn to be older, do more, make more decisions. I can relate and offer advice on all of this. I do not know what it’s like to be a kid of divorce. I do the best I can to empathize and put myself in your shoes. I will walk down your path next to you. But I can’t know your pain, the pain I have caused, and sorry is too small a word for what I feel.

I am hopeful that this will be your sucky lot in life and that your other roads will run smoother. We all have shit to deal with and within the pain there are innumerable lessons you will learn. You won’t realize these lessons, they won’t stand out. They will be part of the fabric of your soul. You will be compassionate, flexible and have a world-view that is one more expansive than I had growing up. From a young age you see your dad and I, as people, not just parents and this will serve you well.

My love for you is greater than my guilt. While I am so very sorry for all the sucky things that divorce means for you, I have the knowledge of what our collective alternative was and am unwavering in my decision that this was the best path for all of us.

But I’m still sorry.

Comments

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  1. 1

    Allison says

    The tears as rolling down my face. This is so right on and painfully honest that there’s nothing more to add. Our children define innocent victims. And it breaks my heart (mine are also 7 and 10)… Virtual hugs (())

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  2. 2

    Melissa_DifferentBeat says

    My son is 3. Also an innocent victim of divorce. Painful, honest and oh so right. The guilt is excruciating, even though I know this is the right thing. Cannot stop crying.

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    • 3

      lyndia says

      Mine is 3 also and I’m my 7th of my divorce. To hear him ask for his dad is KILLIN me.. In so many ways. Sometimes it makes me question if we made the right decision. I came from a broken home and to this day I remember wanting my dad sometimes. Wish there was a book with all the answers

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    • 4

      Graciemae says

      My son is also three, almost four. He was barely two when it happened and I thought it would be his norm and that I was in the clear. Until about 5 months ago when he started saying things like he wanted us all to live together again with Daddy. I too have questioned my decision. Sometimes, we both cry ourselves to sleep together.

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      • 5

        dmommmie says

        It is very natural for children to want their parents to be together and they are too young to understand that some people are better apart. My daughter is 16 and I was shocked when she said she couldn’t imagine her father and I together as both of us are very strong willed. I told her that she was exactly right and that is why I thought it would be best for us to live separately. She also said that my current husband, who has been in her life since she was 5 months old, is the perfect mate for me as he balances my “crazy,” her word, not mine. It does get better, it was not easy to leave the man I spent my entire twenties with when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my first child but, I really knew it was for the best. My daughter was the same as your son when she was younger and that is why I know that it is a natural desire.

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        • 8

          Becky says

          This made me laugh too, clearly he has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. I’m pretty sure our country is failing for much bigger reasons than marriages that didn’t quite work out after all…

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      • 9

        James says

        The verbatim could have been polished some, but the long of it is true. People dont know what theyre getting into, and they are selfish. “Me first” attitude emotionally and mentally. Now if the relationship is abusive etc, thats one thing. But if not and its on a whim, your children suffer your poor decisions and planning, and no apology is enough to cover the guilt and shame you rightly and justly carry. And yes, I know what divorce is like …. Oh how ugly it is ….

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  3. 20

    Kristin says

    I am a child of divorce. And yes, it really does suck sometimes. But as long as the parents don’t use the kids against one another and can still parent together for the big things, it’ll be OK. My sister and I are well-adjusted adults. I’m married with two kids of my own now and the lessons I learned have made me a better parent.

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  4. 25

    says

    i’m not the slightest bit sorry that i’m divorced from my daughter’s father. what DOES kill me is the fact that i brought her into this world with a felon for a father. that’s something that she will live with her entire life and something i can’t change. she’s 5 now and has seen him maybe 10 times in her life. she wants to know why daddy is in jail and i can’t tell her, other than, “he did some bad things and got in trouble for them.” i know it must be a struggle to co-parent after a divorce, but i hope there’s some small comfort to the children in knowing that regardless of what house they live in the most, or what parent spends what nights on the practice field, that they have two parents who love them unconditionally.

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    • 26

      says

      I’m with you here. My guilt stems from having brought two awesome kids into this world with someone who isn’t worth the dirt on their shoes, who cannot possibly parent the way they deserve to parent yet will not bow out of that role because in his mind that would mean that I would have won some war that constantly plays in his head. I’m not sorry for divorcing him – it was the best thing I could have done for my children. They have a fantastic step-dad and we live two states away now from my ex so they only have to have limited time with him, and he still makes that painful for them. I am sorry I cannot relate – my parents are still married, but I will not be sorry for improving their quality of life.

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    • 27

      rosemary says

      @mandi martin, i am two time convicted felon and every person i know has told me that i am a great mom. my child is my whole entire world. she is very well taken care of and very very loved and taught everything possible. i have been to prison , before she was born. that doesn’t make me a shitty mother. so i kinda was rubbed the wrong way when you put the fact that your kids dad is felon out there as if every felon is a p.o.s. i have never been arrested or been in any trouble since a yr before my baby was born. i just want to to let it be known that just cuz some one is a felon doesn’t mean that they are bad person or parent.

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  5. 28

    says

    Huh, I read this and thought it would get to me. I have felt this guilt in the past as my daughter cried into my arms after telling me she hated me. But this didn’t get to me, not one bit.
    The situation I took her away from was abusive, and terrible, and even though I know she struggles at times, the reality is, I know without a doubt that I made the right choice, and that what I would’ve done had stayed would’ve put her at a greater risk of repeating my mistakes.

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