My husband and I went to see a parenting expert and found out everything about how to tell the kids about the separation, from what time of day to tell them, to what to feed them, to the Feng Shui. For example when ripping their little hearts out, should your chair face East or West?
As we patiently explained the “transition” with carefully chosen phrases like “I’ll always be your mommy,” “This is a grown-up problem” and assorted other shrink-speak, the children seemed like they were going to cry forever. As instructed, their father and I began to weep openly. It was important that the children see that we were disappointed too, we’d paid two hundred dollars an hour to find out.
The tears were genuine because we too thought we would stay married forever. (Cue doves at sunset.) Now that that didn’t happen, we’ve had several months and even years to come to terms with this, whereas the kids were obviously still living in that white picket fence, bourgeois pipe-dream. But telling our children we cried real tears, because we could not bear willfully hurting these little souls. Also because even though we’d paid a therapist a fortune to make this experience as smooth as possible, it was still sucking ass. (And not in the good way.)
It’s lucky my husband and I got professional help, because I probably would have told the kids this way:
“Guys hi thanks for joining me, besides being your mother and everything that has entailed over the years- milk machine, sandwich maker, butt wiper and general all purpose troll-slave, mommy is also a living human and as such has some kind of wants needs and desires that weren’t being fulfilled by daddy (though to be fair he gave it a damn good shot) and mommy (you’re going to love this guys because I know how much you love your mommy) has found somebody to fulfill those desires, and that happens very loudly in a small apartment just North of here.”
“You see, this new guy makes mommy really happy, not just because of the awesome, filthy stuff that happens in that apartment, and when mommy’s happy she can be a better mommy. She can be a loving, caring, relaxed mother, instead of a red-taloned, froth-mouthed, apoplectic Disney villainess.”
“You see there are different kinds of love kids, like the love you guys have for each other or the way your parents love you which is forever by the way, even though you eat with your hands, and then there’s the special love grownups have for each other, we call that “being in love.” There are some grownups who have that kind of love for children and that’s why we have a safety code word, we never talk to strangers and no, you’re not going on Facebook you’re only seven…”
“Have you noticed that mommy has been so much happier and less scary and stopped yelling at you completely? Well that’s because her root chakra has been wedged open, and when that happens a woman takes on a kind of glow where everything, even you guys, gets softer around the edges like Barbra Streisand in a close-up. Now do you think you could put your incessant, selfish, whining demands aside for a moment and be happy for the woman who gave you life and technically could also take it away?”