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.

Learning To Say “No”

I’m not talking about saying “NO!” to my kids. I know some moms are very anti N-word. But not me. I say no at least 300 times a day. It’s a regular part of my conversational interactions with my children. I say “no” more than I say yes, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

That’s not where I’m going with this though. I’m talking about saying “no” in terms of not spreading yourself too thin. Allowing yourself (as a mom, as a person who needs self-care) to take a day off, to skip the laundry for today, to cancel on your dinner plans and stay home with a book.

Moms these days have so much pressure to be perfect, to be super mom. We have to make sure our kids don’t get too much screen time, but get enough that they aren’t the only kids at school who don’t know what Fortnite is. We can’t yell or scream or swear. We have to use our words carefully as to not bruise their fragile egos. We need to be their advocate, but make sure we aren’t helicoptering over them… they need their independence too, but not too much. We need to keep them away from processed foods and GMO’s and ensure they are only supplied gluten-free, sugar-free, non-GMO, fresh, clean, and homemade meals shaped like their favorite Disney characters. We have to make sure everything is fair, because (as we all know) life is always fair and simple participation in life is always awarded. Our kids must be the best in everything or it’s a direct reflection of us as parents. Hell, you can’t even apply sunscreen on your kids nowadays without someone chastising you for using an aerosol spray can of SPF that causes cancer. DEET? That’s absurd. No one uses that. It’s homemade essential oil concoctions to repel bugs in this century. Get your shit together, bad mom.

That is just the pressure we women have with KIDS! When you add in the pressure of just being a woman it’s seriously overwhelming. If you show up to school drop off looking like you just woke up, sure, some moms might get it, but some will judge the fuck out of you. Show up late for pickup? Clearly there is something wrong with you! Don’t make it to the gym on a regular basis? Stop at McDonald’s on the way home from running to school to sports to clubs and home for homework? You must not care enough about your family. What’s wrong with you?

You’re not part of the PTA, PTSA, PTSO and the NRA? Well then… you’re not a real “mom” at all!

In this world of perfection, it’s hard to take time for  yourself. It’s even harder to FIND time for yourself. I have found that the only time I get any time to breathe, think, focus, or plan for the upcoming days is at night when my kids are asleep. Which is great, if you can live off no sleep. I can’t.

When my marriage started to come to an end and I had to take a look at my life and my family on a much deeper level, I realized, I was doing WAY too much. I was falling apart at the seams trying to keep up with sports, school and after-school activities, dinner and PTA meetings, cub scouts and parties and the list. is. ENDLESS. When things got really bad I was having such anxiety I couldn’t even fall asleep at night even though I was walking around like the living dead because I was so damn tired. And when I finally did fall asleep I couldn’t get my ass out of bed in the morning without hitting the snooze fifteen times (or more).

It might be an unpopular opinion I have, but I am a firm believer after years of spreading myself so thin I can’t breathe, that sometimes… I just have to say no. If I am not up for a night out, I will say so. And I won’t feel bad about it anymore. If I don’t want to drag my kids to a party where I know they (and I) are going to take days to recover from…. I make a call, send a text, and apologize, and STAY HOME. If I have to skip making dinner and order in just to save my sanity, I do it. If I have to send my kids to school with a lunchable instead of a homemade sandwich in a bento box with carefully selected fresh fruit and vegetable sides, then so be it. I overslept so I’ll stop at 7-11 on the way to school, and I might even throw in some ho-ho’s (GASP!).

In most cases when speaking about anxiety and depression, women are TWICE as likely to be affected than men. I think that speaks volumes to the amount of pressure we are under as women, as moms, and as wives. It’s a hard thing to admit when you are in over your head. It’s almost like you’re admitting defeat. Admitting you can’t handle the stress. But, in reality, if you can be someone who knows their body, knows their mind and their soul so well that they know when enough is enough and it’s time to slow down. To do what it takes, for your own well-being, and ultimately for your overall health so you can actually take some time to ENJOY life and have FUN with your family, with the strength to not give a DAMN about what anyone thinks about it. Well, that makes you the real super hero.

Photo Credit: National Institute Of Mental Health

**did you know? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.

Panic Disorder affects 6 million adults, or 2.7% of the U.S. population.

Social Anxiety Disorder affects 15 million adults, or 6.8% of the U.S. population.
SAD typically begins around age 13. According to a 2007 ADAA survey, 36% of people with social anxiety disorder report experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.

Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44.3.
MDD affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7%of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.5 years old.
More prevalent in women than in men”

Mom Transparenting

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