Back a millennium ago when you got married and didn’t realize that the piece of paper was for the Government, do you remember how important your wedding was? You obsessed about the dress; it had to be perfect, it had to look French, you drove miles outside the area to try on scratchy tulle and cheap-ass Chinese lace, until you found the perfect white (crème) concoction that symbolized the virginity that alas, was already long gone when you met your fiancé. Then there was choosing the day to get married -Winter Wonderland or Amazing Autumn? Sweltering Summer, a puddle of sweat gathering at your corseted cleavage, or Sassy Spring, as your allergies angrily rained out your special day? Everything down to the last cocktail napkin (Tom and Joanie, Forever ’00) had to be thought out, organized and color-coded to ensure that your marriage would turn out to be perfect.
Little did you know that the floral arrangements had fuck-all to do with the day-to-day business of marriage, and neither did you listen when anyone tried to tell you this. It didn’t matter, you would be different. You skipped, sashayed and glided up that aisle with all the confidence of a prima ballerina in Swan Lake (not a psycho one like Natalie Portman in “Black Swan.”) How did you know you were right for each other? Well, you “just knew.” Love was mystical like that, it could give you, at the ripe old age of twenty-something the psychic powers to predict every twist and curve pitched at you for the rest of your life and “just know” you would weather it all together… (Cue doves at sunset.)
So, now that that didn’t happen, I’m suggesting that you put as much time and effort into the separation as you did into the wedding. Especially when it comes to telling your children. Don’t make a drama of it, but don’t undersell it either. Renting out a hall and publicly announcing it to your children for the first time in front of all the people who were at your wedding (who haven’t died) is too much. Mentioning it casually after story-time one night, snapping the book shut and brightly adding “Well, good night,” is not enough.
That’s why it’s so important to pick the right time and place to tell your kids that mom and dad are no longer an “item.” Here are some suggestions I gleaned from my own horrifying yet ultimately minimally painful for the kids experience, again with thanks to Betsy Brown Braun for some of these ideas.
1. Do it on a weekend, not on a school day. This is not an announcement to wedge in between multiplication and that Native American Book report (which reminds me…)
2. Do it after lunch, boys especially do not do well with bad news on an empty stomach. (I’m sure my mother believes if I had been a better cook, the marriage would have worked out.) A friend of mine always says there are only two things you have to do to be happily married – “Feed ‘Em and Fuck ‘Em.” Feed your kids, so that you don’t fuck them (up.)
3. Pick good ambiance – don’t sit at your favorite table because you will forever associate it with misery. Do not put on music, unless it’s Britney Spears whose music was reportedly used to torture prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Don’t worry about your outfit though… unless you’re a surfer, in which case please put on a shirt and shoes. You don’t have to wear a tie, but you owe your children at least a modicum of effort. Dude.
4. Don’t sit on the same chair as your baby daddy/baby mama. Cozying up with them, even if you’re still best of friends will confuse the kids. Why are mommy and daddy not going to be husband and wife anymore when mommy is sitting on daddy’s lap and blowing in his ear? I exaggerate, but hopefully you are sure about this and even if you two have gotten together for a little private hate-fucking since you made the decision to separate, the children should not know this.
5. DON’T BLAME ANYBODY. I can’t tell you how important this is. Did your partner ruin your credit, fuck your best friend, and emotionally abuse you by calling you “fatty?” Doesn’t matter. You are going to be these kids’ parents for life so you better figure out how to make the kids your absolute priority. Would it be helpful for little Maggie to know that mommy never put out, emasculated daddy and then slept with the roofer? No? Then give it a miss…
Stay Tuned for the Next Installment: How To Tell Your Children You’re Getting Separated: Part Three – The Main Event. Thank you so much for all the kind words and thoughts on Part One, they mean the world to me! I know that our experience will help someone… because sometimes you “just know…”