Told

7 Dec

I tell them they need to come to our my bedroom, that we, their father and I, need to talk to them. Vivian bounces around the room oblivious, Rosalyn continues to chatter to herself, her world made up of straws and markers and people only she can see, tucked away inside her head as Vivian sings to Rudolph.

We sit them between us. My eyes start to fill but I beat them back by lashes.

I tell them that no matter what, NO MATTER WHAT, we will always love them, their father and I. Vivian looks up at me with her big brown eyes, wide and glistening. And stares into me.

I stumble, but continue as her father’s arm tightens around her shoulder. Daddy isn’t going to live with us anymore. Daddy is going to have his own house. As reality hits, as the words flutter down her chest like dying moths, her face crushes itself and the tears come, the tears you shouldn’t have to shed until you’re 17 and some boy just broke your heart. The tears I should not be staring at while my 6 year old freezes in her father’s arms.

I can’t stop it. My chest wraps itself inside out and a snake slithers around my heart, watching her. Rosalyn squirms in my arms, twisting and still nattering, but Vivian has a crashing realization of what this means, and she sobs a death call for us, and I await the requisite banshee outside my window.

Never. Never ever ever do I wish to do this to my child again. I am her mother. I should be protecting her, not wounding her, not shifting her world ten paces to the left, a little out of the sun.

I hold her hands tightly as she cries, and mutter all the pithy words I’ve read she needs to hear. We still love you-we still love each other, just not like a mommy and daddy should together. Two houses will be fun! You’ll see me all week and Daddy on the weekend and we can do stuff together now and again. If you need one of us, you just call.

But no, we won’t live together here. Daddy is leaving after Christmas.

Rosalyn asks where we’ll live. It’s the only sign that she’s been listening after all, her sunny side up disposition unaltered by the conversation. She’s young enough, immature enough to likely not be bothered.

Once Vivian’s tears have subsided, once she’s swallowed I remind her of how Mommy and Daddy haven’t been getting along, and how this way, we’re happier. She looks me in the eye and sees that I believe it. A weight goes off her shoulders much as one went off mine weeks ago.

We flip through the Sears catalogue to look at little beds for his house. We tell them that just this once, they get to pick which one they want.

I bend, remembering to whisper in their ears. This is not your fault. This is us. You have done, and can do nothing to fix it.

And we love you, more than you can ever know.

******

I refused to insult either child by telling them this is best. I still don’t believe that. I don’t believe that we’ve worked, TRULY worked on making this marriage work, and I will likely be resentful about that until the end of time. Maybe it’s because my parent’s had a good marriage, and Cancer stole it, and I wanted a real chance to have what they had-a home, a loving marriage, a family.

I have never thought Divorce to be the best option in cases where there is no violence. Not without trying to work stuff through.

But it’s not totally up to me. And if we can’t or won’t work through it, then this is best. Even if it crushes my heart, and makes me realize how I truly am a mother since only a mother would hurt herself this way to make it better in the long run.

I don’t know if we’re doing the right thing.

We took them to dinner, mostly to underscore the “we will still do things as a unit” point, and to give them a break from that tension. We walked to see where he’ll live, just a few blocks away, and smack dab between the walking trail, two parks and the corner store. A quiet, dead end street. Walking home, Vivian asked to play outside for awhile, the new snow too much to ignore. She asked her father to play with her.

She decided to play house with Rosalyn.

I’ll be the mother. You be the daughter. There is no father here.

How many times exactly, can a heart break in one day?

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18 Responses to “Told”

  1. sweetsalty kate December 7, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    Oh sweetie. They’ll be okay. You’ll be okay.
    xo

  2. Quadelle December 7, 2009 at 9:24 am #

    My heart is aching from the images you’ve planted in my brain, I can only imagine how much yours is breaking.

    You, all of you, will be able to heal and move on.

  3. christine December 7, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    i am so sorry this is happening to you, your family, your kids. it sounds as if you are doing everything you can to make this easier for the children, though it is breaking you apart.

    these wounds, they will heal.

    best,
    c–

  4. bromac December 7, 2009 at 10:13 am #

    My heart aches for you and the girls. I believe they will be ok, though, because I believe you will make it so.

  5. Hannah December 7, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    No words. Because none would suffice.

  6. Jürgen Nation December 7, 2009 at 11:01 am #

    Ohhh…thordora. I am so sorry. This has to be devastating for you – I can feel it through your words – and I’m so, so sorry. You’re in my thoughts, and I’m sending hugs.

  7. Laura December 7, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    I can’t even imagine how hard that must have been. It sounds like you did it just right though. I hope everything gets easier from now on.

  8. thordora December 7, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    Thanks all. I’m hoping it gets easier from here.

  9. magpie December 7, 2009 at 11:55 am #

    Oh, hon. Thinking of you all.

  10. jeanette December 7, 2009 at 12:19 pm #

    Nothing but hugs lady, nothing but hugs and love.

  11. patois December 7, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    I’m really so very sorry for all of you.

  12. Marcy December 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm #

    (((((Thordora)))))

  13. Jennifer December 7, 2009 at 7:46 pm #

    You have to remember that two happy parents separated are 10000 times better than two fighting miserable parents together.

    It teaches kids that there is no “happily ever after”, that people are not perfect and sometimes people need to go different ways to be happy.

  14. kate December 7, 2009 at 9:42 pm #

    Oh, Thor. I’m thinking of you.

  15. Maggie, dammit December 7, 2009 at 9:46 pm #

    Oh, sweet,
    sweet girl.
    No words, just…
    here.

  16. Shana December 7, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

    “I refused to insult either child by telling them this is best. I still don’t believe that. I don’t believe that we’ve worked, TRULY worked on making this marriage work, and I will likely be resentful about that until the end of time. Maybe it’s because my parent’s had a good marriage, and Cancer stole it, and I wanted a real chance to have what they had-a home, a loving marriage, a family.”

    Thordora, this is so perfectly written, so brutally honest. I have only this to say: please don’t beat yourself up over what you’ve described above. You know the saying: hindsight is 20/20. If we all knew how different circumstances in our lives would turn out, of course we would do things differently in a few key areas. But we can’t possibly know what those would be. We live life based on the most rational choices we can make at any moment. No one can ask more of us than that.

    Don’t let your regrets get in the way of living the best possible life you can now. Your girls have every reason to be proud of you.

  17. Kim December 8, 2009 at 12:39 am #

    Reading these words took me back 3 years, when we said them to our boys. It was Mother’s Day. Once we told them we were separating, they didn’t cry. They smiled. Two 12 year olds who knew it could only be better than what had been. Yes, it affected them. But now, 3 years later, I know it was the right thing to do. You have to believe that what you are doing really IS the best thing for your girls. Be open and honest with him. Teach them that sometimes the road to happiness is worth the struggle to get there. It will all be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.

  18. Bon December 9, 2009 at 10:21 pm #

    am late commenting at all. just wanted to say that you said things to your daughters that some small part of me has waited 37 years for my parents to say to me.

    it’s a rotten thing to have to do. but i think you did it with grace and great empathy, and that is good.

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