"You are always going to love me, right? No matter what." My eight year old son asks me this almost every night before he can go to sleep. He has always asked, possibly because he has some special needs and is to some degree aware that he is not always met with acceptance and love in the world. Maybe it is only my imagination that he asks more often, now that his dad and I are not together.
The email I had from divorcecare.org today was about the losses of divorce, big and small, the ones expected and the ones that surprise us. My kids' confidence in the unbreakable nature of family love is a big loss. For them, primarily, we make every effort to have both parents in their lives as much as possible, to put aside our own resentments and bitterness. It will be a long time before they can understand why this divorce has happened, why they have experienced such a big loss.
I haven't uncovered an answer to supply at the end of the post, which is always the neater way to write. I chose divorce and brought this loss into the lives of my two boys. In Writing a Woman's Life, Carolyn Heilbrun observes that so often women struggle with accepting responsibility for their lives, a responsibility which includes having impact on the lives of others. One friend of mine is struggling with the question of whether to end her marriage, too, and her only difficulty at this point is that question of the impact on the children. It's a real question, I am not downplaying it.
I could not stay in my marriage any more; I am not going to justify that here. Here, where I am now, the question is how do I best help my children to grow and be healthy with their parents apart. I know that now they are not as confident in family or in me, specifically, as they were before. That is a loss.