Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I need to toughen up

My 4-year-old is having a hard time adjusting to all of this change. And if that isn't enough, there are little things here and there that continue to rock her little world: a sudden change in gymnastics, meaning a new teacher, and a substitute teacher at school.

Small things, but when you're already experiencing so much change, those things are huge. Especially to a small child.

Then she does things like tell me she misses her old toy box from her old room. She says she wants things the same as before.

How do I handle that? She's crying out for her old life. Maybe I make too much out of these little comments, bringing my worries about divorce into the picture and assuming what she says means more than it does.

But then again, they say divorce is really hard on children. So I need to take what she says and how she acts seriously. I'm just so scared. I don't know what's right or wrong to say to her.

"Yes, honey, I understand that some things are changing and that's scary and confusing to you. It's OK to be sad. Just remember that you're brave, and that it's good to try new things (I feel like I'm feeding her a line of B.S. here). And most importantly, remember that we love you."

So, do I just say that over and over and over again each time she shows her inner hurt? Is it working? When will it work?

They need me. It's as simple as that. Less time with Dad (I'm sorry...I know he loves them...but they need me).

My counselor told me constantly that they'll be fine. They'll adjust. Keep things at each home consistent. Provide plenty of love and nurturing. Don't fight with the other parent in front of them. Keep structure and discipline. If you do all of those things, your kids - especially given their young age - will be fine.

I'm trying really hard on all fronts. Is it working? When will it work?

I get so wrapped up in the fragile emotions of my young girls. I try to look at the big picture: My goal is to create a good, supportive, enriching childhood for them so they can turn into happy, healthy adults. Facing adversity is part of that, of course. But this kind of adversity? The kind where your mom is suddenly not there half the time?

If I try to picture them as adults, I can see how they'll probably end up just fine. If everyone whose parents were divorced didn't end up OK, we'd all be screwed up. Right? Or am I fantasizing?

I get too wrapped up in the here and now. And as a mom, it hurts my heart so badly to see them (mostly my 4-year-old) struggling. I seem to think that one sadness or misstep on my part is going to be permanent. Like that's the sum total of their experience. But that's crazy, right?

Sigh. OK, I've cried enough for one night, so I will move on.

Have I mentioned how much this sucks?


  1. Hey there.. I've been trying to comment from my Iphone but type a novel and slide my finger the wrong way and blammmmmo erased.... grrrrr.....

    So I completely get where you are at. M was very much like your sunshine. She doesn't do change or transition well... she never has... funny she is in gymnastics too.... and when her teacher changed last time.... she was so hurt.... So I must talk gently to her every time change is on the horizon.... she has a gentle soul...She is still a mammas girl and prefers me over her daddy hands down... I have poured my heart and soul into her.. and she and I are very close.... so some days it is still a struggle... she will often causually suggest that she really only needs to see daddy for one day... she feels that is enough.... with that said.... it did get easier and the tears do not flow so freely any longer on drop off day. I have followed a few helpful rules that i think have been useful.... I have always let her know that I don't leave her with daddy because I want to.... but because I must... because when mommy and daddy have two homes.... mommy must share with daddy... and daddy loves her very much and it is important for her to see her daddy. But I let her know that it is not my choice... but important for her... if that makes sense.... I also never told her I was sad she was going or that I would miss her... I was told that that actually does more harm because children feel responsible for our sadness.... I always faked that smile as hard as I had to.... and worked really hard to play up how fun it was going to be at daddy's house... but then again he was very much a disneyland dad so that helped a lot... now.... well... not so much.... but she is older now and she gets that it is the way it is.... she knows that mommy does not get to keep her home... from daddy's visit time... just because she wants to stay with me... and i remind her about how much fun she usually has... Trust me.... as a child who grew up from divorce.... my mom left my dad.... I was 3 when they split... and i never remember them together.... I remember them apart.....and now that I know a bit about my dad... as an adult... I know my mom made the right choice...plus... I am still a mammas girl and I admire her more than any woman in the world... she did what she needed to do to be happy... and to pave the way for her girls.... she never spoke a single negative word against my dad... she still doesn't.... and I really did turn out okay I promise.... You see I too ended up with the wrong man... but got the greatest gift of all... my daughter M. My mom showed me that the best gift I could give my girls... is a happy... soulful.... loving home.... I have amazing memories as a child.... your girls will be fine..... I am living proof...

  2. Oh, thanks so much for your response to this. You know, my parents got divorced too. But I was 19. It's just different. Somewhere in the middle between really young and 19...that's almost worse, cause I think it's even harder on kids/teens. So, I keep telling myself that once they get used to this, it will be normal.

    It makes me sad/scared to think that your little one (wait, she's the big one now!) still has problems with it, even if it's much easier for her. But it's good to know how you handle it, cause my Sunshine is so sensitive and a mommy's girl, too.

    I'll definitely remember to tell her Mommy doesn't want to be away from her, but that it's important that she spends time with her dad. Thank you for that. I hope that helps her realize I'm not just pushing her out the door. I think that's my greatest fear - creating abandonment issues with the person she loves most.

    I definitely have tried to keep my emotions in check and always faked that smile.

    Today I started a calendar for her with definitive mommy days and daddy days written on each corresponding day. I'm hoping using that as a reference point will help her feel more prepared.

    Also!!!! He agreed to let me have them back before bed on Sundays!!! So two overnights during the week and one long day on Sunday, but they come back before bed. That. Is. Huge. I'm scared he'll go back on his word. This schedule gives me no free weekend night until after they're in bed, but I don't even care. I'm assuming/praying it will help her anxiety greatly knowing she'll be home and in bed at the end of the day.

    OK, enough of my novel this time. Hope you're doing well. I, as always, greatly appreciate your input.

    I'd like to get more people reading this/giving me their opinions. Any ideas how to do that without giving up who I am? (I suppose I could create a Twitter account under the name Limbo Mom...)

  3. OK I know I've found this a year late but I wanted to let you know that my parents got divorced when I was 6 and I am a normal girl. I am one of the lucky few because my parents got along great as not married friends. I'm 27 and my dad still helps my mom with her vehicles, they are still friendly at birthday parties and holidays. When they got divoriced my grandparents took my sister and I to live with them in Mississippi. I do remember missing my mom dearly, and I know she missed us so much it hurt to talk to us. But my grandparents had a more stable life than she was able to give us at that time. When the divorce was over and my mom had a place to live (and school was out) they brought us back to her. She was always a strong presence in my life, never took any crap, took pride in doing everything with as little help as possible. We were lucky to have my grandparents move back and lend their support. I just wanted to give you a little bit of hope to go along with your day!

  4. Stacy - Finally Blogger will allow me to comment on here. Anyway, thanks for what you wrote! It does make me feel a lot better. I wish ex and I got along. We don't, and the girls know it. When he's rude in front of them, I don't respond, but I make sure to talk with the girls later and let them know that Mommy is fine and that we ignore rude people's comments. They seem to be doing really well, and I hope we can navigate their changes as they get older. And I REALLY hope ex will cut out his vindictive ways.