And the time came, when the risk to remain in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom. ~ Anais Nin
And so it was.
The day after my oldest girl turned 7, we told the girls that we were separating. To spare the blow-by blow, initially they both took it very hard. I'll never forget the look in Maya's eyes when it sunk in - I could see her pain, fear, confusion, sadness. In that moment my heart broke for my girl and if we had not tried absolutely everything to save our marriage I know that moment would have been so, so much worse. Tegan clung to her Daddy, crying, and begged him not to go. We both hugged her and reassured her that she would still see us both and we both loved her and her sister so much. She calmed down very quickly, where poor Maya was a little ball of hurt for two hours, alternately sobbing hysterically or throwing things. We took turns trying to talk to her, telling her that whatever she was feeling was normal for this and that we loved her and were sorry. Then she consented to a ride to Daddy's new apartment to see it and the new bunkbeds, and by the time they came back and picked up Tegan and I for lunch she was even smiling a little, told me she loved me and hugged me. We went to lunch and it was sad and happy - which seems to be a regular place for us now, this balancing of knowing that this is the right thing with the pain of making it so. Maya brought markers to lunch and wrote "Mom" with a heart on one hand, then asked me to write "Dad" on the other hand with a heart.
My sweet little girl is doing so well. It is absolutely not a smooth road, but she has a great counselor at her school who is helping her tremendously. Maya is a "fixer" and it's hard for her to accept that not only did she not have a choice in this, she also can't fix it. The girls and I are also keeping a journal together, taking turns writing in it to each other and passing it back and forth; and at the suggestion of a friend I am also keeping my own journal for them to read when they are older. Tegan has moments of being sad about having to go back and forth between homes, and in those moments Maya always jumps in to cheer her up and help her. That's where she shines, helping other people. I always tell my girls "No matter what, you always have your sister" and they are absolutely growing even closer through this.
There is so much to sort through. We have to sell our house, I have to find someplace comfortable for the girls and I to move to, I have to buy a new car (my 12 year old car is finally giving out) but this is all small potatoes. The only thing that matters is my daughters are going to be ok. They'll have ups and downs but they are strong and sweet and fierce.
And I'm finding through this, and I hope to spread the message, that divorce does not have to be awful. I am absolutely convinced that marriage is work and I recommend you try everything possible to save your marriage. But if you get to a point where nothing is working, it's ok to decide to part ways before you hate each other, before you've said things that can't be un-said and inflicted too many wounds. Once you have children together you are forever linked, and there is no way to sever that - so you might as well find a way to be friends and let go of the bad stuff. It might be just as hard as trying to save your marriage, or even harder; but you can give your children the gift of two happy parents.
I'm hoping after this post to get this blog to a new place of recipes and things that make me laugh and pictures of the greatest dog in the whole world, but there will always be updates of how my girls are doing. Because I think the whole "children of a broken home" stigma is pure and utter bullshit. There is no reason that divorce needs to be awful and painful, sometimes it can be just the start of a new chapter, for you and your children, a way to show them that it is ok to make a choice which allows you to grow.