(this is part 3 of an ongoing memoir series.
I don't have this all mapped out. What I'm gonna say and how I'm gonna say it. The problem is that I really actually don't KNOW what happened back then, in the days before I really remember.
Something went wrong when we were in Europe. Mom came back to the States.
And right now all I can think is "If your marriage is falling apart, please don't...."
Because we're back in America and somehow now we live in Dallas. I start kindergarten. They start fighting.
How did couples live and mothers mother before the internet? What did they do before they could google "what to say when you're really mad and things aren't going the way you imagined they would"?
Maybe they had already started fighting but I just don't remember.
I just don't remember.
What I do remember is yelling and throwing stuff. Not at me. Never at me.
Because I was the prize.
If your marriage is falling apart, please don't try and fill the hole in your heart with a little girl's approval.
Making your child the object of all your affections puts pressure on your child. The pressure to be everything you claim or imagine them to be. The pressure to fulfill your unrealized dreams. The pressure to live up to and stand up for and justify and explain and support.
The thing is that parents often think their kids WANT to know what went wrong and who said what and the truth is they don't.
If your marriage is falling apart, please don't explain to your kids how the separation is the other person's fault, even if it's true. In fact, don't tell them the details at all.
Kids want to and should love their parents in a child like way. The way only a child can love. If you take the good away from the other parent, you take away a piece of your child.
If your marriage is falling apart, please don't try and win your child's unconditional love by negating any and all good in the other parent. Because she is half her. Half him. Now half evil. Half terrible. Half useless. Whatever you say of your spouse, you say of your child.
If there is a lot of anger, it means there is a lot of love. Hate is not the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love. That is how I know my parents loved each other. Because there was never indifference. No, not ever.
There were shadows of threats and confusion and life in a society that upheld one as an upstanding senior member making the other the bad guy. Or girl, as it were. Because that's how relationships work, right? When they fall apart? One person is all right and the other is all wrong?
If your marriage is falling apart, please don't move to a new state and refuse to let your child have any contact with her mother whatsoever. Even if her mother did and said and was all those things you claim she did and said and was, which she probably didn't and wasn't. I still don't know and don't want to know. Because remember, I'm still the child.
What people forget is that kids' lives are not ABOUT their parents. I know it kinda sucks to hear that. I mean we carry them and we feed them and raise them and pour our souls and dreams into their pristine minds and hearts, and then we find out that it's not about us. Giving up ourselves. Being selfless. Sucking it up when all what we want is to have them say awesome things about how great of a job WE'RE doing. That part is about us for sure. About the struggle that we need. The challenges that we personally NEED in order to become the best version of ourselves possible.
But their dreams and desires? Their wants and needs? Their real life that they will all-too-soon be living on their own? Yeah...no. That is not about us at all. We strip away their independence, responsibility, and courage if we try and make it so. So please don't.
If your marriage is falling apart, please don't hope or fear that they will see EITHER of you differently.
Because your kids don't care about YOUR divorce. They care about THEIR parents.