- Originally written Sept. 21, 2014. Still true.Dear Ezra and Lian;
I love your mother. I love both of you.
Ezra, you already know this. You are old enough to know this is true. I have told you many times. Lian, today you are too young to understand what is happening. Most of all this letter is for you to read when you are older. Ezra, when Lian is older please make sure your little sister believes this.
My legal paperwork got filed in court over a week ago. This means that your Mommy and Daddy permanently won’t be living together any more. We haven’t lived together for 16 months, but this makes it official. This doesn’t change anything really for you, but soon your parents will be divorced.
You and others will ask yourselves, like you have asked me in the past; why? Eventually you will meet someone who will tell you something like this; “Sometimes mommies and daddies stop loving one another. That’s why they get divorced.” Don’t ever believe or listen to that. That idea has nothing to do with me and your mother. It’s not true about us. I love your mom with all my heart, but it takes more than love to make a marriage last.
I have tried so hard to make sure that we could all stay together. Now I have to stop holding on to your Mom. It’s really, really difficult, but it’s what your Mom wants. I just have to love her from a distance. The best way I can do that, is to love you as best as I can. You are the apple of my eye. My favour will rest on you as long as I shall live. Just because my marriage is ending does not lessen my love for you. You bear no responsibility for this divorce; not even a little bit. I will provide, protect, lead and embrace you all the more. I’m sure it might get to be too much sometimes. I might hug a little too tightly and forget to let go. When I over-love you, I’m sorry. Please forgive me in advance.
Any time I compare you to your mother, it will be to highlight one of your positive attributes. When I see you, I will always see a little bit of her. That’s a good thing. Your eyes, your nose, your dimples, your easy laugh and smile. They all remind me about the best of your Mom.
My biggest regret about this is that you don’t have more brothers and sisters. If there were twin or triplet versions of you that would make my joy even greater. I love all your mother’s children so much. I will pour my affection on the two of you.
Sometime in the future, you might be feeling bad about yourself. Wherever you are, no matter how old you are, read this letter. Remember that your father loves you and always will.
Since September, my divorce application was sitting in a pile on a judge’s desk. Quite by accident and a misunderstanding on my part, I found out on Feb. 10th that a judge had granted my divorce on January 10th. That meant that the next day my divorce would be in effect. Somehow, it caught me by surprise. This was real.
On Saturday, when told his parents were now divorced, Ezra thought it meant his mom wasn’t his mom anymore. She was his ex-Mom. After our separation, his mom, Ruth, spent 3 months last year in Chile visiting her sister. That entire time, Ezra was convinced he was never going to see his mom again. No matter what I said to him, he would not believe that she was coming back. At that exact time, he began going to a new school because his parents were separated. He was bullied. He had no friends at school. He was very miserable.
Yesterday, Tuesday, my almost 4 year old, Lian was standing by the front window. She watched her mom walk away down the sidewalk. With tears streaming down her face, she was screaming at the top of her lungs, “Mommy, don’t go!!! Mommy, don’t go!!!” She got herself so worked up that she vomited up a mixture of chocolate milk and toast on the carpet. She sat on my lap for 15 minutes heaving giant sobs of sadness while I cleaned the mess off of her and tried to get it out of the carpet. When she calmed down, she said, “Can I help?” Together we rubbed paper towel on the carpet, till the yuck and the stain were mostly gone. This is only 1 of Lian’s many screaming separation episodes.
This morning, I awoke to a text message from Ruth. “I don’t know what to do. I miss the kids so much.” My phone is filled with her text messages telling me how much she misses the kids or how often she has cried because she is not with them. Only she knows just how many tears she’s cried because they are not together every day. I know it’s not a few. I have lost track of the number of times Ruth has used every excuse to spend a few extra hours or even minutes with Ezra and Lian. She misses the bus. She cancels going back to her apartment due to the weather, her health, my health or the kids’ health.
Tomorrow, I have another counselling session. It helps me work through my divorce. For the last 21 months, I have been going to counselling. That whole time, I also have had a days assignment at work for compassionate reasons. I’m not working rotating shifts because I am a single dad going through a divorce. I have kids in daycare and a son with autism who needs a parent with a fixed schedule. That decision will be reviewed in May. I’m grateful for that decision for more than just practical reasons. It kept me from having to bring a note to work from my doctor and my psychologist stating that I wasn’t fit for my duties in a nuclear power plant. Thankfully, I’m much better now. (Update: On Aug. 7, 2015 I’m feel better than I have in probably 15-20 years.) For a long time, I could not concentrate enough to work in an industrial environment. I’m fortunate to have a sympathetic employer and health insurance that gave me the opportunity to get better. Most don’t have that chance.
Sure, divorce is much more than this. It means one can get out of unsafe marriages. It means you are free of the “ole ball and chain”. You can end a lot of dysfunction. Yes, but it’s also my stories above. If you or someone you know are thinking of choosing divorce, remember it comes with a cost. Make sure it’s worth it.
Remember for a lot of people this is a “best case scenario divorce”. It was settled amicably. I could tell the stories of others that are a whole lot worse. I know the social norm is to “suffer in silence” and not “air my dirty laundry”. I should try to save face and not give any information that would make anyone question the wisdom of my decision to get divorced. Yet, if one person hesitates from jumping into the family breakup quagmire, it would be worth it to me.