An Open Apology To My Kids On The Subject Of My 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 do 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.

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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.

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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.


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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

            Frank says

            Yes, I think Tommy must have some serious issues that are above and beyond the scope of this thread.

            With that said, I think this mother has confused the words “empathy” and “apology.” Although she is definitely empathetic to her children, she does not seem to be apologetic at all. If I apologized for insulting someone, but then continued to insult him, would I really be sorry for my behavior?

            Usually the word, “but”, in a sentence negates everything that came before it. Essentially the letter is indirectly riddled with, “I am sorry but…” Although I can understand not being able to live in an unbearable situation, the mother is clearly aware of how bad it must be for her children to see her date and kiss another…..yet she does it anyway. A barebones translation could be, “I’m sorry you have to see me with another man, but I will do it anyway.” Sounds more like a letter of explanation and empathy than a letter of apology.

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      • 10

        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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      • 11

        Jen says

        Divorce is not a sign of weakness. You try raising two small kids while living with an alcoholic who is getting progressively worse, loses his job and his self-respect, and won’t ever get up off the couch. Who passes out and crashes into the china cabinet while his 5-year old sits silently by watching cartoons and trying to pretend she didn’t just see that happen. My kids will not grow up in that kind of environment. I kicked him out. And that was not a weak ass thing to do, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. But now my kids live in a peaceful, happy home where they can relax, and they can bring their friends over whenever they want without worrying about what might happen next. I feel for them and I am so sorry for the pain they went through and are still going through daily, but I know that their lives are better than if I hadn’t taken any action at all.

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    • 19

      Sue says

      Now, 5 years after the divorce, I know I stuck it out with my husband WAY too long. I should have kicked him out long before I even conceived. I read my journal entries from those days and wonder how I survived his abuse, and wonder why I couldn’t see it at the time. I am lucky I got out, healed, and now can be a good parent to my child.

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