How To Be Sad And Not Ruin Your Children’s Lives

It’s no secret that I’ve been going through a rough time personally. That’s because in the age of the internet, I don’t believe that privacy exists. I certainly do nothing to propagate it, with my endless confessional writing. Even as a stand up comic at 17 I was determine to put large chunks of my life on stage. It was how I processed, I reasoned. Of course, this was before internet trolls… Also, before the NSA gave a shit about my breakups.

My main concern is not taking out my worries on my children and that is a lofty goal I fail at almost daily. As summer vacation draws to a close (in 10 days, 7 hours, and 21 minutes, not that I’m counting) I have spent much quality time with my kids in between a bevy of camps worthy of a Texas debutante. Collectively they’ve surfed, acted in Shakespeare plays, played in rock bands, been to the movies, Shakespeare, museums, lakes and pools, and that’s not even including the RV trip with their dad all over creation. All they need is a Swiss finishing school and they’ll be ready for their lives as socialites. (They could do with it too, their table manners remain appalling.)

I have intentionally and consciously spent more time with my two boys as well, knowing that this specific adorable phase when they still love and look up to me will not last forever. I have tried to be interested in what they’re interested in and while I often fail at this, I am just as often happy to listen to their bubbly excited chatter, just to watch their faces light up in innocent joy.

Unfortunately as an important relationship in my life has trembled on its foundations and finally crashed to the ground in an impressive fireball of emotional pain, I have found it harder and harder to maintain a sunny disposition for the children. Day after day, as things were slowly falling apart and I was powerless to stop them (like a car crash, but less pleasant) I would give them my ubiquitous excuse after yet another mopey afternoon, “Sorry guys, mommy’s not feeling well.” Until by the third day my younger son rightly asked, “Again?” He was probably wondering why mommy’s sad sickness medication had stopped working.

I was forced to tell them that the relationship had come to an end because random bursts of crying for no reason are probably confusing for other adults, let alone for children. Also so that I would stick to my resolve and stay away. And my young sons surprised me by being sympathetic and sweet, although they had too many questions, some of them good ones that even I can’t answer. “If you’re sad why don’t you call him?” And I wish I could tell them the truth- “Well honey, it’s the same reason you don’t call your crack dealer when you’re sad, because some short term pain is necessary to avoid more pain later.”

As it is, I try to remember that they weren’t the ones who made me angry or sad, they simply were born, and at some point in time I was truly, wildly excited about that. I still am. What they don’t tell you about children is that they do save your life, only so they can ruin it later. Slowly.

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