No Sweetie, I Won't Tell You Why I Left Your Daddy
Last night was curriculum night at my daughter's school. My ex-husband and I met at the school to sit down and get to know the teachers. This was the first time my ex had been to the school since I enrolled the kids there last spring. He told me last week he didn't even know for sure where the school was. But I digress.
This picture is what greeted me when I opened my 8-year-old daughter's writing journal. She wrote it the second day of school. I read it, felt my heart sink, and then silently handed it to my ex to read. His face told me he was as concerned as I was. We have never said those words to each other, not in front of the kids and not when we were alone. We don't hate each other, it's just not true. That was the first shock, the second shock was that she has never said a word to us about her feelings. She always claimed to me that she was happy I got a divorce because she loves spending so much time with me. She was the child we didn't have to worry about!
When we went to go pick up the kids, we took her aside and asked her about the picture. She said she just made that hate part up because she didn't really know why we got divorced. Then she asked us why. I thought about how when he sat down at school he asked me, in front of the teacher, if I had a hat I could put on because my hair looked like crap. I could say, "Well sweetheart, Daddy is so critical, so mean, so selfish, so lazy, so stupid, Mommy was ready to jump off a cliff rather than stay with him one more day." But, of course, I would never say that because we have a "good" divorce.
As usual, I said, "We just are happier and better parents when we don't live together." Some days those words come out easier than others. Yesterday they were hard. I wish I had a more satisfying answer for her. None of the kids like my standard answer, but I just can't think of anything else to say that doesn't criticize the part of them that is their father.
I learned a valuable lesson from this picture, and that is why I wanted to share it with all of you. Even when you have a "good" divorce, the kids still hurt. Even when you almost never fight, share parenting time openly and often, and everybody pays their child support on time, the kids still hurt. Even the kid who says they are happy, hurts. Even the most amicable, ideal, friendly divorce in the world, hurts.