5 rules to “keeping it together” for your children’s sake

“Women are like teabags. You don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water. ~~ Eleanor Roosevelt

This post is about the rules… no, no, no, not those rules, but the rules to surviving through this process. Rules about how to remain in control of your emotions, those pesky things that will sneak up on your at the sight of a Sarah Mc Lachlan on an ASPCA commercial or a movie like the Notebook—ugh love that movie but man does it make me cry. The emotions that you are keeping in check because as I said in the blog titled “how do I do this?” YOU are in control of your emotions.

These are the rules that I believe are imperative to keeping it together and also keeping the children protected from the pain, anguish and irreparable damage that may have been done by the split or what caused the split.

1. Cry in private!

Cry when the kids are not around, cry a lot, cry because it is good for you, because it feels good, because it is a release like no other. Cry because of the ASPCA commercial, cry because you stubbed your toe, cry because the laundry is piling up and you do not have the energy to do that and give baths.

Cry because you feel hurt, sad, alone, worried and do not know how you are going to pay for dinner, and the electric. Cry because well… quite frankly because you deserve to cry. But, do it in private.

Children do not need to see your pain, they need to see your holding it together, that you are a soft place for them to land while their world is being torn apart. They are resilient and will bounce back better than we can, but at any age not having their mom and dad together is tough. When Olivia’s dad and I split she was only about 18 months old, and I thank God that she was not old enough to remember us being together. Now, I know that sounds sad, but it is true. She has never known her father to be with anyone but the wife he has now. For her, us not being together was normal. So, I count ourselves very lucky in that aspect.

Never cry about the issues in front of the children, this can be perceived even in their young minds as guilt, they can feel as though they need to act a certain way, or not want to be excited to be going to see their dad, or excited to spend time with the other side of the family because you “need” them.

They need to be the #1 priority as far as peace and as much of a normal life as you can give them at that time. They need to understand that this is the way life is now, but that you are strong, and you are aware of their needs, and they are the most important thing in the world. Give them that… they deserve it no matter their age.

2. No talking about him to the children or where the children can hear you!

NONE! No! Do not do it! I promise you, you will regret it. I have never talked badly about Olivia’s father around her or where she could hear it. Did I talk badly about him to my friends, and co-workers—YUP! I did, I talked about him when he would do things other than the things that I felt at the time were best for Olivia, when we had issues, when his mind worked one way, and mine worked another. And, trust ladies, he did too I am certain of that. But I kept those conversations far away from little ears. She did not need to hear about the difficulties of our relationship and my attempts to ensure they had a relationship or the 4 hour to 8 hour drives we would make so she could see him. She did not need to know anything that was going on between the two adults in the situation, because well, we are the adults, she is a child!

If you have to blow off steam, send a text to a friend, call you mom or whomever, but do not start screaming into the phone about what a “giant piece of crap” he is, or “how worthless he is.” Remember her father and I have an excellent relationship now, and he is one of my the greatest people in my life. He is a good man who I trust, admire, and is a friend… now, in the beginning it was tough.

Your job is to ensure that even if he is a giant piece of roadkill sandwich you are above reproach, and you are still the gem in their eyes. You do not stoop to that level, nor do you allow others who are around your children to talk crap about him either. Talk to your mama, your excitable aunties, your well intending best friend, and make sure that they are on the same page. No taking crap around the babies… PERIOD.

My father was especially offended when my ex husband left me for another women, his statement was “I gave him my daughter and he shit on me.” My response “no dad, actually he shit on me.” But either way my father, (who the folks I use to work with in Virginia affectionately called “the Captain” for reasons well earning of this title,) “I am nice to him for my grand-daughter, I do not like what he did, but I am nice enough.” For instance, my daughters baptism in 2013 was the first time that my ex-husband and my father had seen each other since 2000. The Baptism was followed by a beautiful lunch at the Cheesecake Factory… yum. That was a long time for my dad to feel as though he was shit on, and the Captain is especially good at not forgetting those that hurt his family, especially his only daughter.

My father was once in the yard with a dog we had named Buffy, she was a gorgeous German Shepherd. The road I grew up on was used like the straight away at Daytona—people drove fast because it was a straight shot in the middle of no where. A few months before this particular day, Buffy was in the yard one minute and in the road the next, when a car flew out of no where, and hit her. My father especially in love with this beautiful creature took her to the vet, nursed her back to health, and she lived. She could not hold her bladder after this, but she was our family member, and our protector, who my family had raised since a baby. Now fast forward a few months later, dad, and Buffy are in the yard working around, meaning my dad was planting more trees to fortress our house in from the world, because I think my dad was one step away from building a moat when my mom stopped him. Buffy was enjoying the day, sitting next to him to keep him company. When the Captain notices the man walking down the road in front of our house . The next thing you know, dad says to her, “hey, Buf…” she looks up at him, and he continues, “that is the guy that hit you.” She gets up, starts walking towards the road, she breaks out in a full out sprint towards this man, he sees her and takes off running the other direction. The Captain, I am certain was very proud of himself, I am sure beaming from ear to ear because the man was getting what he deserved. I am not sure that she ever caught him, but it’s a good story. So, the Captain holds a grudge, and does not forget. Buffy, was the protector of his family, so she earned a lot of respect from him, but at the same time, she was part of the family.

We need to get him a gold star for not using his NRA card to damage my ex-husband that day. I am sure it also had something to do with the fact that we were in the house of God, and let’s not forget.. Cheesecake. After lunch we went back to my house, he sat down, had a beer, and watched NASCAR. Well deserved rewards for the Captain! Olivia was not the wiser that my father was holding anguish towards her father, and probably figuring out 9 ways he could maim him from the handshake to the end of lunch. That is the way it is suppose to be, that is mature. My mom, well, she is the sweetest thing on this earth, and would not say shit if she had a mouth full of it, and couldn’t hold a grudge or see the bad in anyone if someone was stealing the money out of the offering plate right in front of her. So, I knew I did not have to worry about her. She is amazing, and well, I got that trait from her as well… again, another blog.

Since that day, they have seen each other, even chatted a bit on the phone—things are good now. But Olivia’s papa will always be her biggest fan, the biggest spoiler, and she will always be “my girl.” Yes, I am just the vessel by which my daughter was presented to the world, I am no longer his baby… she is. Sometimes they sign my birthday cards, and my dad will say to “my baby,” I know this is just so I do not buy the cheap diapers when he is in the home.

3. Children need to remain just that… children.

The children are not chess pieces in a game their parents are playing with each other, they are children. They are not a weapon, they do not need to be relaying messages from one parent to the other, they are not your little bike messengers.

They are children, they grow up so fast as it is, let them be children or young adults and let them grow up with out knowing the ins and outs of their parents relationship. A simple, “hey text your dad that we are on our way,” or “ask your dad if he is coming to the game tomorrow?” Those are fine, but not “tell your dad that his child support had better be here by noon on Friday because I need to pay the bills, and oh tell him not to bring that tramp around you again.” FIRM NO!!!! No, and if you do that my friend, you need more than this blog, any book, or possibly even a therapist can provide. You need a hug from God while he is anointing you with the holy water straight from his personal tap. As my southern friends would say “you need Jesus!” Ladies, communicate, be mature, do what is best for your children. Remember that you are in control of you, your emotions, the way YOU react, not him, not his situation—just YOU!

4. It’s over because… well, it’s over.

I once read a book called “It’s called a break-up because it is broken: the smart girl’s breakup buddy” by Amiira Ruotola and Greg Behrendt. You may know them from the other famousish books like “He’s just not that into you,” or “it’s just a f***ing date.” The first book I am sure you may have heard of considering that it was turned into a movie, and is on every women’s DVR, netflix queue, or we cannot stop watching it when it is on FOX re-runs and we are folding the laundry.

Well, ladies, it is over, there is no going back—or maybe there is—if so, skip this one, because I am sure that you are the one women out of the thousands of us that will get him back and live happily ever after. There is a chance that this will happen, and there is a damn good chance, because I once read a statistic somewhere that 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and of those 50% of those people end of re-married to each other–within 3 years. So, its possible, but if you are still pining for him, we have other issues to work through. Now, I am not saying do not love him still, do not be sad—I just told you above how to cry in private, I am just saying once you determine it is over, and it is… then its over!

Being over is not a bad thing if the marriage or relationship was not good to begin with. That is an easy one, be done and move on. If you were in love, and he was not, or he was trying his game with other women, and you were left holding the bag… be done, move on! From the book, “it’s a breakup…” you get it—remember not great at the grammar thing, the authors, the aforementioned super writers said, “the harsh reality is that even if you have everything else in common, the one thing you don’t have in common is the belief that this relationship can work.” I think I am suppose to put brackets here with the mention of the authors etc. It is their work, let’s be honest, they are lucky I put quotation marks around it. Not stealing yo’ work Greg. You know he was once one of the writers on Sex in the City I just underlined and italicized that for fun. I am certain if you are reading this and you are a teacher, or someone who paid one bit of attention in English class you are scratching your eyes out, and for that I am sincerely sorry. Anyway… back to the end of the end and the new beginnings. Another amazing quote from that book about if is broken… is “…take a deep breath, steel yourself, and realize that this is going to hurt for a while. There is no quick remedy for the power of the sting of heartbreak.” That is the honest truth, there is nothing more imaginably painful than pain in the heart! Nooooothing, not a broken bone, or a flu, or burning yourself with a Fondue fork on your lip on Christmas Eve, nothing. Especially if you did not want the break-up, if you believed things were going great, and then all of a sudden he decided he is no longer in love with you, and he wants to follow the Grateful Dead re-boot band all over the country and live in a van. Well, that was dramatic in its own right, however, he actually said, “Amber your too nice, I am just not looking to settle down, and I think we should see other people.” Two months later he was living with a Brazilian swimsuit model and engaged 4 months later. What my 20 year old mind heard though was, “your too… I am moving to California to be with the girl I really want to be with because she can pee standing up.” I don’t know he mentioned it once, and it was weird.

Remembering the good times is easy and nice, and you have children together, and people will ask you “do you think you can work it out?” Or maybe even be so bold as to demand you work it out, like a southern mother I once knew, she said to me, “you will work this out, because you have a child.” My reply, “if I work this out with him, I lose my self-respect, and I will not allow my daughter to grow up with a mother who does not respect herself or have the strength to know that is worth more than what is being offered.” Plus, he did not want me, but there were good intending people who thought they could get her father and I back together again because well, people liked us together. Either way, it was broken—he had a new life without me, he was happy, and I was moving on—I was not sure how all the time, but I had a plan and my God as my witness… I always say “you can NEVER beat a WOMEN with a plan!”

Anyway, it hurts like hell, it is over, it is done. We could spend days writing and talking about this but when you know in your mind, and your heart just has not yet gotten the message it is hard. Really hard. But once your mind, and your heart are in sync, you will be prepared to deal with the break-up, take the time to deal with it. Go through the steps of grieving the relationship, be sad, be mad, deny, and then pull it together and grow from this situation. Grow into the person you need to be at this moment, and do not be afraid to change her into someone else later, but be the survivor, the parent, the guardian, and enjoy every second of the time you have with your children. They will be little today, and they will be graduating from College tomorrow.

5. Stop posting all of your divorce drama

Do not put it all on Facebook, instagram, snap chat or any other social media that is out there, or will be out there by the time you read this!!! You have to be above reproach for more reasons that just your children. The courts can see this information and more importantly so can your kids. The internet is forever…kind of like that little pocket of fat that sits above your lady parts after you have children. The spot that only a doctor can remove or at least it seems. I am not going to go on and on about this. You understand, don’t post it everywhere!!! It is no one else’s business and frankly no one cares. It may make you feel better, but it makes you look really bad, like too tight white jeans on well, pretty much anyone.

Ok, so enough of the rules.. you get it cry in private, do not use your children as a go between, don’t post all of your drama online, it’s over because it is, and the Captain is no one to mess with.

As always, much love and respect

@mber

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