By Elisabeth K. Corcoran
Author of He Is Just That Into You
My divorce was three days out, I had just been to church with my kids, and I was sad. Like, you could tell just by looking at me kind of sad.
“What’s wrong?” my daughter asked.
“Being at church without a husband is still hard for to get used to. And the divorce date is coming up this week, remember? So I’m probably going to be pretty sad for a few days.” (A few days? Ha!)
“That’s a random thing to be sad about,” she said.
“It’s not random…it’s in three days…” I replied.
“I haven’t even thought about,” she said.
Stunned, “Well, it’s not your marriage…” I said.
“Isn’t our dog cute?” she asked.
Subject closed apparently.
What this conversation taught me is that what matters to me doesn’t always matter to my kids. The breakdown of my marriage affected them the most probably when their father moved out two summers ago and then when the three of us moved to a new home last fall. I have spared them of most of the gory details that have gone on behind the scenes so “divorce day” meant next to nothing to them.
What this means is that I am learning to deal with my sadness alone, or at least, not front and center in our home on a daily basis. Yes, they can know I’m sad. And they should. They should see that divorce is not a celebratory time in someone’s life. They need to know that there is heartbreak because it is wrong and not what God had wanted for us as a family. But they don’t need to see me cry into my soup or stop eating altogether or lay around on the couch staring at a turned-off TV.
So, I share my hurt with my friends. I cry when I’m on my own or behind closed doors. I am productive when they’re around and let myself take more of a breather when they’re not.
It is one hundred percent okay for me to have feelings and to feel them appropriately. But I must remember that it is not my children’s responsibility to know my every thought and sadness, to carry that burden with them wherever they go, or to make me feel better. I need to let them be who they are – teenage children – and let them grieve and heal as they best need to, in their own ways and time.
Elisabeth K. Corcoran, 2012