Why I Showed My Kids My Tears During My Divorce

Some things happen in this life that whether in our control or not, are heartbreaking. Things that occur that we wish we could take back, or do differently.

Things that can break us, if we let them.

When I was divorcing my children’s father, I cried. A lot. Often. It was a depressing time for our family and my self-esteem. There were days when my 1-year-old would ask why I was so sad all of the time, and times when my oldest would cry with me because he was sad too.

And it’s because of that – I don’t regret my sheer rawness with my kids, because if I had a chance to do it all over again, I would. And I would do it the same.

Here’s why:

  • People get sad. It’s part of life. People cry. Man or woman, young or old, you are going to shed some tears at some point in your life, and I don’t ever want my kids to think that crying is something to be ashamed of or something they should do in private because I never cried in front of them.I want my kids to see that being sad is part of being human, and it’s ok. If they are sad, depressed, or struggling, I want them to know that this is something people experience, as human beings, and it is OK.
  • I want my kids to see that despite my sadness, I still did what I needed to do. I got up; I got dressed, I put “my face on” and I left the house. Whether I was taking them to school or dragging myself to work, I made sure not to neglect {too many} responsibilities. Even if it felt like I was dusting myself off and going back out into the world that I felt was swallowing me whole.They saw me crying earlier in the morning, but they also saw me pull myself together and take care of my responsibilities. I made dinner, I cleaned. I may have shed tears in between, but life went on, and it was vital for me to show them that.
  • I wanted my kids to know that their parent’s divorce was sad for me, too. I knew they were struggling. They couldn’t wrap their tiny heads around why this was happening and why things just couldn’t go back to the way they were. And I wanted them to see that I felt their pain too.Maybe not in the same way, but we were in this together, as a family. By sharing my sadness openly with them, I hoped it would encourage them to do the same with me. And in many ways it did.

    It also opened the door for us to have some cathartic conversations about what this change meant for our family, how we could get through this as a team, and what the future was going to look like for us.

  • Maybe most importantly, I wanted to show my kids later that there is life after sadness. Because you have the tools to change your life and how you react to it, but you must DO it. I wanted them to see that even if something happens in life that feels like it could be the end of the world, feels like it IS the end of the world, it doesn’t have to be. At least not forever.We are allowed to have our feelings, to feel our experiences, but we also have to take responsibility for our happiness. To do the work to dig ourselves out of the crippling sadness that is tearing us apart inside. I wanted my kids to see me do this so one day they can remember that our family experienced a dreadful event, and it hurt like hell, but we found love in each other, and we climbed out of the depths of depression together, and are stronger now because of it.

    That even if you feel like a devastating event cripples you, eventually, life WILL go on. And when that happens, you can be better; you can be someone with pride and resilience. Because you cried because you allowed yourself to feel the hurt, the pain, and the sadness but also to use it as a motivator to stop feeling sad.

I didn’t make a conscious effort to cry in front of my children at first. I was so overwhelmed with emotions and pain that it happened. In the beginning, I would be lying if I said I didn’t question how raw and open I should be with them about this.

I didn’t share intimate details of my divorce experience with my children, of course. But I did share some of my pain, most of my sadness, and a whole bunch of my tears. And if I had to do this all again, that is the one thing I would not change.

It brought us closer together. Helped us heal as a family, and gave me a chance to have some conversations with my kids. Ones that might not have happened so naturally, so organically, had I not given them the opportunity to see me struggling and in pain.

As parents, I think we tend to question the way we handle situations with our kids. Did we do this right? Could we have done better? Should I have or have not said this or done that? I can honestly say, this is one of those parenting moments that brings zero regrets.

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Sometimes It’s Hard To Remember My Kids Are Going Through Some Shit

I get so frustrated as a parent sometimes, as many do. I work hard, sleep very little, feel overwhelmed and emotionally drained much of the time.

And sometimes feel like I’m literally busting my ass to make ends meet to turn around and get snapped at by a tiny human who appears ungrateful, demanding, and entitled in the wake of my roller coaster day to day life.

Being a divorced parent is hard. Being a divorced parent with no co-parent is even harder.

So while I sit here and throw myself a pity party for spending my days making up for the absent parent in my kids’ lives, I really need to take a step back and remember… my kids are going through some serious shit.

I might be the “single” parent in this parenting duo, but they have went from a family with two parents, with a semi-normal home life, to a family with one parent completely removed. Living in the house they grew up in but with a new man, who they don’t trust yet, don’t know as a dad, don’t feel the same love or connection with.

While I’m struggling to navigate life with new dynamics and a new partner they are trying to mourn a dad that is still alive, but they don’t get to see. The parent that used to be the “fun dad” who over exaggerated every event, every holiday, every big moment in their lives and now forgets to call on their birthday.

I feel worn down and complain about money, lack of support, and missing days of work to stay home with sick kids because I am their sole parent. But I forget that while I’m cuddling their feverish body and stressing about being stuck home and not at work that they are remembering what it was like to cuddle their other parent. Or maybe, they are stressing too because enough time has passed and they might not be able to remember it as well as before.

I have to remember that even though I got to experience my son’s amazing belt promotion, my daughter’s first gymnastics team, my older son’s baseball and academic achievements and cheer them all on and beam with pride, they were likely (if even for just a moment) yearning for the person missing. The one who should also be there to congratulate their big accomplishments.

I have to remember that if my kid seems like he doesn’t like any of the gifts he got for his birthday, even if it’s EXACTLY what he asked for, it’s not me. Or the gifts. It’s because the one true gift he wanted isn’t something that can be bought at all.

He told me his one wish this year. That his dad would come back and be the dad he was years ago before his demons took over. And my only saving grace is that someone reminded him days later that if you share your wish, it won’t come true.

My kid may never tell me his wishes again.

While I’m simultaneously making sure that my kids get to continue their sports, have birthday parties, the tooth fairy shows up, Santa is good to them, and everything is *somewhat* normal and like it used to be, they are wondering what magical being can step in and “fix” this.

When I am exhausted and overwhelmed at bedtime and fighting back tears because my kids have heard two songs, been read three books, and had multiple bathroom breaks, there are nights I bet they’re also wishing their mom wasn’t the one ALWAYS putting them to bed.

There is likely a place of common ground in the root of most of our mutual frustration.

My kids have it pretty rough for kids that on the outside appear happy, carefree, friendly, and smart. The guise they wear sometimes fades and the sadness pours out, but sometimes it doesn’t. Most of the time, it doesn’t. At least not in obvious ways.

On those days I forget that they are battling with feelings and thoughts and fears and worries that *most* kids their age don’t experience at such a young age. Or ever. I have to remember that my kids, even if they seem fine, might be really struggling on the inside. 

I have to keep in mind that they aren’t aware of their feelings yet and aren’t mature enough to express them and so they manifest in ways that look like ungratefulness, attitude, or anger towards me.

I have to be vigilant that even if my kids are smiling, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a fleeting thought about the thing they all miss most. The PERSON.

I also have to remember that while I’m over here feeling sorry for myself in my position as mom AND dad, that they most likely want a break from me as much as I do from them sometimes, but that break is nowhere in either of our immediate futures. I just have to keep reminding myself…. my kids are going through some serious shit right now.

 

If this article connects with you here are some others about my relationship struggles:

Divorcing A Narcissist Is No Joke

A Transformation On How I Perceive Drug Addiction

5 Things I Learned About Dating Apps

 

 

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