I was terrified to tell the kids about the divorce.
I Googled just about every combination of words I could think of.
How to tell your kids you are getting divorced.
The best way to tell your kids you are getting divorced.
Tips for telling your kids you are getting divorced.
Every article and blog post was written by a psychologist or a therapist.
Nothing I found came from actual parents who had gone through it.
I posted a question in a couple divorce support groups I had joined on Facebook.
But the only posts that get any attention in those groups are the ones where women are just bashing their exes or posting pictures of themselves crying hysterically because they are so sad.
I didn’t find a whole lot of support for myself there.
The experts who write the blog posts tell you the same things.
Plan what you will say before hand.
Tell all the kids together.
Don’t tell them too far in advance.
Don’t give them too many details about why you are getting divorced.
DO give them as many of the details about where they’ll be living and what the parenting schedule is as possible.
Well, we didn’t have many details completely figured out. We still don’t.
But the kids were starting to ask a lot of questions. And I was really afraid they were going to see something somewhere like a text message on my phone or a piece of mail or overhear a conversation.
It was time to tell them so they heard it from us first.
My husband and I have been seeing a therapist to help with co-parenting.
We discussed what we would say in her office.
The exact moment we were going to tell the kids didn’t happen exactly as planned.
But that didn’t really matter.
Breaking the news to the kids was probably what I dreaded the most in the whole divorce process.
I was afraid it would be one of those life-altering moments that forever changes your life.
That traumatizes you.
That fucks you up irreparably.
I had catastrophized so many scenarios in my head, and all of them ended tragically.
I had also predicted how all the kids would react.
I ended up being three for five.
Three kids reacted — initially — exactly the way I had anticipated.
Two of them surprised me.
We were sitting outside on the back deck around the table when we told them.
One of the kids started quietly crying.
One broke into heart wrenching sobs.
One completely lost it and took off into the back yard.
One just sat their quietly.
Another one seemed completely unphased.
We waited a little bit for the really upset kids to calm down, trying to reassure them while allowing them to just work through their feelings.
The one who ran into the yard came back before too long, still upset, but noticeably calmer.
We were all seated at the table yet.
They started asking questions.
Where are we going to live?
Are we moving?
Who is staying in the house?
Do we have to switch schools?
What about our birthdays?
What about Christmas? Can we all still have Christmas together???
For most of their questions, our answers were the same.
We aren’t quite sure yet. We are working on all the details.
Then one of the kids fired off a few more questions.
Directly at me.
OH MY GOD. ARE YOU GETTING A NEW BOYFRIEND???
Fuck that, I thought.
Definitely not, I said.
WELL THEN ARE YOU GETTING A NEW GIRLFRIEND???
Oh my gosh! NO! I answered.
And then came the kicker.
ARE YOU ACTUALLY A LESBIAN AND THAT’S WHY YOU ARE GETTING A DIVORCE???
All I could do was laugh.
I’m not getting a boyfriend and I’m not getting a girlfriend and I’m not getting divorced because I’m a lesbian, I reassured all the kids.
One of the kids got upset again.
I knew you guys were going to get divorced, but I thought it would be after we all went to college!
Another kid said, “I don’t feel bad for us. I feel bad for Mom and Dad.”
That was pretty enlightened.
And another kid said, “It’s okay. It’s not like they are dying. I still have a mom and dad! They just won’t live together anymore.”
After about 20 minutes, everyone was calm.
We went down to the pool as a family and we swam and made s’mores.
Then we went inside.
My husband and I have been sleeping in separate rooms for a long time now.
The younger three asked if they could have a sleepover with me that night.
I said yes.
One slept in my bed, and two slept on mattresses on the floor.
We did that for four days.
Well, one kid went back to their own bed on the 2nd night.
The other two stayed.
On day 4 I told the kids it was time to get back to normal and sleep in their own beds.
They were fine with that.
Life as we know it hasn’t changed all that much yet.
We are all still in the same house.
But we are starting to do things separately with the kids.
My husband is taking a vacation week with the kids, and I have a week with them.
This has been a good transitionary experience for all of us.
The kids are getting used to doing things with me and their dad separately, and equally as important, I am getting used to it.
Every once in a while someone will bring something up, and then if they want to, we talk about it.
They say things like, “I had a dream last night that your divorce wasn’t real.”
They are handling it really, really well.
I am so proud of them.
Number 4 said to me a couple days after we shared the news that it was “the best I’ve seen you and Dad cooperate in a long, long time.”
So maybe we didn’t get the marriage part right.
But telling them about the end of it?
That part we did pretty well.