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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 me 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.
“Ummm…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, so…” 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 our new home last fall. I have spared them 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 try 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 is mom to two teenagers. She loves spending time with her kids, her friends, reading and writing. She is the author of At the Corner of Broken & Love: Where God Meets Us in the Everyday; One Girl, Third World: One Woman’s Journey into Social Justice; He Is Just That Into You: Stories of a Faithful God who Pursues, Engages, and Has No Fear of Commitment; In Search of Calm: Renewal for a Mother’s Heart; and Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom’s Weary Soul. All these books can be purchased on Amazon.com in paperback or Kindle.
If you find yourself in a difficult marriage or have gone through a painful divorce and you’re looking for a safe place to find encouragement and hope, you may email at Elisabeth at [email protected] and request to be added to her private Facebook group for women like yourself.
You can follow her on Twitter at ekcorcoran or friend her on Facebook.
Watch Elisabeth and her friends spread hope through Africa with Samaritan’s Purse.
Elisabeth is a proud Member of Redbud Writer's Guild.
Publiction date: September 4, 2012