I wrote back in July about our impending talk to the kids about daddy leaving. I wrote this post in my notebook on August 17, but neglected to publish it. I wanted to continue the story on this blog, so here it is.
How to you make a talk about Daddy leaving not sound as if Daddy’s leaving?
How do you tell your kids you’re moving six hours away from them?
This talk was different from the “mommy and daddy aren’t going to be married anymore” talk - although it had the same air about it. The four of us sat on the couch and chair (not the same ones as the divorce talk), and before Daddy said anything, Baby Girl said to him, “Are you and L* getting divorced?!” We smiled and said, “No, sweetie.” (L is Daddy’s girlfriend.)
This talk was different. This wasn’t “our” talk. This was “his” talk. This was his news for the kids. I was there, but this was all him.
Daddy told the kids he was moving to Ottawa. And the look on Baby Girl’s face almost crushed me. I can’t even imagine what that must feel like to be told, at seven years old, that Daddy is moving away. Far away. He won’t be around much anymore.
How does that not sound like “I’m leaving you”?
The Boy doesn’t quite understand. At five years old, all this is pretty hard to grasp. He doesn’t really understand how far places are from each other. Or that things will be different.
Baby Girl, at almost eight, gets it more. She said, “This is worse than the divorce!” And I said, “I know, baby. I know.”
We weren’t trying to downplay the news, but we were trying to let them know Ottawa will be cool to visit. And they’ll have a house there. And a room. And a playroom. And there will be lots to explore.
She looked at Daddy and said, “Stop trying to make this fun.”
He answered their questions as best he could. And he said, “Well, how long has it been since you’ve seen me until today? It’s been about a week and a half. It won’t be much different than that.” And Baby Girl cocked her head and gave him a ‘don’t bullshit me’ kind of look and said, “It will be longer than that.”
We continued to talk and she asked what I think is a very mature question, beyond her years. She looked at Daddy and asked bluntly, “Are they (work) making you move there or is this your decision?”
And to his credit he didn’t wimp out on the answer. He said, “They aren’t making me go. They asked me to go.”
So Baby Girl is a bit mad at Daddy’s work.
After she asked her questions and we’d talked a bit, she began to head to her room. I asked, “Do you want Mommy to come?” And from the back I saw her nod yes. And I asked, “Do you want Daddy to come, too?” And she made an indecipherable head movement. I went up to her room with her and I asked again. She nodded yes. I called down, “Yes.” And Daddy and The Boy come up to Baby Girl’s room.
I was on my side, back against the wall, spooning Baby Girl. Daddy laid down beside her, The Boy on top of him.
And four of us just laid there. All on a single bed.
Then The Boy said, “Why do you love Baby Girl more than me right now?”
“Oh sweetie. I love you just as much right now. Baby Girl is just needing lots of cuddles. Do you need some, too?”
I stayed until bed. Read stories. Tucked in and gave kisses.
Then I left my house and cried.