The first night back after a weekend with Dad* is really hard. The girls have a rough time of it, trying to readjust. The sadness is very close to the surface, and the minute the lights go out and the covers go up, the tears come. In the past, it's been mostly the Bear who has a hard time, but this time Tank decided to join forces with her. They are both crying, now, calling out for Daddy. The Bear is still the worst - pounding on the door to get out and "chase him." Coming out with classic lines like "Life just isn't worth it. It hurts too bad," and "I hope Daddy still loves me." Those are always fun.
I try very hard to be calm and reasonable with them when it gets like this. It's okay to cry and feel angry, I tell them. Life's not fair. It never will be. We need to accept that and live with it, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt, or that we have to like it. I took the Bear out of the apartment so she could stomp her feet in anger without making the neighbors angry in turn. Her idea, but I thought it was a pretty good one. But it's just so hard to watch them be in pain, and to know that it's at least partially my doing, and I can't fix it. I think that's the worst part - knowing your child hurts and there's nothing you can do about it.
I'm trying very hard to appreciate every minute I have with the girls, not to be annoyed or frustrated because they're small and life is hard right now. But my first response to situations like this is to block out the pain, block out everything, and I don't want to do that here. This is part of life - part of the path I chose for us. I can't block out the pain - it's something we have to feel and work through to come out on the other side as better, stronger people. But if I could take the pain for those kids, if I could feel all the loss and confusion and abandonment for them, I would do it in a heartbeat. Life will not always be kind to them, I know, but at least now, while they're so young and delicate, I want to spare them this. And I can't, and that hurts me in ways that I never thought possible.
You always want better for your kids than you had for yourself, and yet here I am, exposing them to all kinds of heartache at an age when I didn't even know what divorce was. Sometimes I find it very hard to convince myself that living with a single mom will be better for them in the long run than living in a house with two dysfunctional parents. I know in my head that it will be better, have heard it confirmed by a thousand people, but looking at them, at the naked pain in their eyes, makes it hard to remember why we're doing this to them in the first place. I just have to trust that I am doing the right thing for them, right now.
*Mostly Grandma, but *technically* Dad.