To My Toddler: Mom And Dad Are Going To Be Living Apart, But We Love You Wherever You Are

by Erica Donahue
Maravic / iStock

Dear sweet boy,

Per the routine, I pulled your polka dot shade down, placed you in your sleepy suit, and we sang “Twinkle, Twinkle.” But tonight was different. The weight of that shade felt like I was moving a mountain, and with good reason, because, my little one, we are moving. And it’s a heavy, heavy load.

Tonight is the last time I will say, “I will see you in the morning when you wake up” and close this particular door to send you off into slumber. The door through which I first introduced you to your first bedroom on our first day home from the hospital. The door through which we burst to wish you a first Merry Christmas. It’s in this room where you spent the first night away from mom and dad when you were done co-sleeping. And now, it will be the last night you live under the same roof with both Mom and Dad. Because, my child, I have to break your heart a little and tell you, somehow, that Mom and Dad won’t be living together anymore. And I’m sorry.

When I shut the door tonight and you yelled, “Daddy,” my heart broke a lot too.

I’ve lost countless hours of sleep trying to figure out how to explain this to you in a language you will understand and in a manner that won’t cause you baby anxiety. I want to tell you this in a way that lets you know you are loved more than ever by two parents who are moving down the street from each other, but never out of your life. Still, I feel like a phony because it’s heartbreaking and painful, and I feel like we failed as a family. So maybe it’s me that I really need to have this conversation with first.

It may seem like we failed. We did in some ways. But big picture, we haven’t. We won’t. We can’t, because you, my love, are the common denominator that will always, always be worth fighting the fight for.

Please know that Mommy made this choice for our family out of love for everyone involved, because we all deserve happiness, peace, and respect. But mostly, because I refused to repeat bad patterns and resolved to show you what real love looks like, not an incomplete version pretending to be for the sake of keeping up with the Kardashians, the Joneses, or whomever else we think we need to compare ourselves to. I want to keep it real and honest for all of us, and sadly, that means taking some action to make change, hopefully to better ourselves and hopefully to better our family.

Who we are as people is who we are as parents, little one. So I am pledging to take this vow all the way and be the best version of me, for you. I want you to see by my example that the right thing might not always be the easy thing. And I want you to always know that you never need to settle for a situation or relationship that doesn’t honor who you are and what you’re worth.

Goodnight, sweet boy. May you have all the most peaceful dreams of 2-year-old innocence whether your head rests on a pillow at mom’s house or dad’s. No matter where you sleep, my darling, love surrounds you.