I was scrolling the Internet this morning looking for some inspiration on how to help my children through the tumultuous divorce we are in right now and I found this article. In my opinion, a must read for all parents with children that have chosen to dissolve their marriage. Clear, concise, factual and really puts it into a good perspective.
At present, I am working on how to help my daughter who will be 5 in August through the divorce. I also have a daughter who will be 3 in August.
I need help.
I'm trying to let go of the expectation that my ex will help me with this. He has a lot of emotional issues and didn't want the divorce and finds himself in a place of anger, bitterness and resentment and, at times, it shows up in his actions: not calling the kids, taking a weekend off from his visitations.
Let's be clear here, I too can be angry and bitter. Especially, when I see the unjustness of this situation. When I am left with the upset children because Daddy didn't call. When I have to answer the question over and over, "Is Daddy coming home today?"
I am in the process of working on this and have made myself a promise to work through it, not avoid it. I am seeing progress and I can acknowledge that. However, it is very hard to realize that IF I do fall backwards, there is no one to catch me. I will be met with even more anger and bitterness from him, instead of loving support. But, this is one of the reasons we are divorcing and one of my main issues in life: trying to get emotional support from emotionally unavailable people, trying to feel validated from people that cannot validate me.
For awhile, I kept fighting with him to "man up" "step it up" "don't be that guy" and I realize after another anxiety attack over this, this is pointless. He is who he is and he won't change. He is grieving this loss on his own time and I have to be respectful. So, I will parent alone.
Sometimes, I think some fathers don't realize that parenting isn't just paying money and seeing your kids. Its guiding them, its role modeling, its giving them the coping skills they need to get through life successfully.
What I had to realize is that you can't give what you don't have, so how could I expect my ex to do this? He is having a hard enough time coping with this situation, it is not fair for me to expect him to be able to help our children. He is simply not able to...yet.
When I would bring all of the these things up to him, sometimes in a nice way but mostly in a nasty way he would accuse me of controlling him, manipulating him, using the kids against him. Let's just say those conversations never went well.
Throughout this journey, I have found it very hard to remain calm and positive when I am exhausted and feeling the world on my shoulders. I am actively working on my communication skills and trying to work on, pausing before speaking and not "coming at him". Sometimes I mess up. I am human.
When I would be accused of manipulating him, controlling him, using the kids against him, I would be sent into a tizzy. I am not! I am trying to protect my girls from a feeling I know all too well. The feeling a little girl or boy gets when Daddy doesn't live in the house and doesn't call. Unwanted. Unloved. Undeserving.
But when I am honest with myself, I can say, in the past, I did manipulate and control him, I no longer do this but I definitely did in our marriage. I am not proud of that. I do not speak to him nicely all of the time, he has a right to have these feelings, too. I get it. I don't like it. But, I get it. But guess what? After we get past our communication issues, we still have a BIG issue. The BIGGEST issue, really. We can argue about our communication all day and how it should've/could've been said better, we can attack each other until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, we need to focus one the issue at hand. Our children!
It's important for us to remember, as adults, we deem some issues and situations "not that big" in our world. But they may very well be THE biggest issues in a young child's world. To a little kid when one parent doesn't live in the home anymore and doesn't call them for a day, their world is shattered. It doesn't matter what the justification is for not calling, what matters is how the kids feel and what we can do to help them. What tools can we give them?
Don't make the mistake that so many parents do and brush off children's emotions because you think its not a big deal.
Listen, empathize and be there for your kids.
So, yes, I will parent alone until their father is ready. I do not believe my ex is failing them but I do believe he is failing to cope with this situation. Ignoring and avoidance doesn't make it better.
What can I do? I can work on accepting his process and continue on with mine and our daughters.
How do I plan on doing this?
Today, we are off to the library to get a ton of books on divorce and loss. I will work through this with them, not for them, because I simply cannot do that. Though, I wish I could.
Oh, how I wish I could just hug them and take their pain and confusion away. Kiss them and melt there anger and sadness away, but this is not reality. We will work THROUGH not AROUND this issue, I will show them the coping skills needed, I will give them unconditional love, I will always be there for them. I will answer the same questions over and over again.
I will not put a mask on this situation. I will not sweep this under the rug. I will not replace it with toys and presents and fun events. I will not pretend we should all be happy all of the time. I will face this with them. In a way that is healing, supportive and loving.
In the end, we will be a healthy family and my girls will know that this was not their fault. They did nothing wrong. They will forgive us, love us and respect us as we will for them.
It doesn't just take two to tango, it takes two to getting a standing ovation for a stellar performance. Right now, I do not have a supportive partner but my kids will never know that. They will know that Daddy loves them, misses them and does the best he can.
When he is ready to parent with me, I invite the help. Lord, knows I need it.
Click here to read the article that inspired this blog!