Just as farmers incubate eggs to until they’re ready to hatch into chicks who will take on the world, we as mothers (perhaps single moms most of all) want to shelter our children from the harsher realities of life.
During the divorce and many times since, my ex has shared with the girls his version of what happened. This version paints me as the villain…the evil one who tore our family apart because of my selfishness. My children, the ones I want so badly to protect from the darker side of life, would come home saying “dad told us…”
And what can a mom say? At 5 and 6 they were far too young to understand everything that had happened between their father and me, nor should they need to be brought into the middle.
From the very beginning my response has been “what happened between your dad and me is complicated. There are always two sides to the story and if you want to know my side I’ll be happy to talk to you about it when you’re an adult. Until then know we both love you and that is all that matters.”
Holding this line was difficult in the beginning. I was full of self doubt. Did I do the right thing? Was I being selfish? Was there something wrong with me? During those early days I was still bombarded with messages that I was a bad person, a bad parent.
One day my ex’s girlfriend called me up about something that was going on and she told me the divorce was all my fault. Tears were running down my face, my oldest daughter watching me. As I cried, silent so this woman on the phone wouldn’t know how much her words struck a chord, my daughter told me to just hang up. Over and over she said that, clearly upset by my emotion. I told this woman who thought she knew everything, “of course you think it’s my fault, you’ve only heard his side of the story.” So she told me to tell my side.
At that moment I had a choice. I could engage in a debate with this woman or I could hang up as my very wise daughter suggested. I chose the higher road. I was not going to convince this woman that I was right and everything she held as truth about the man she was living with was wrong. Nor did her opinion matter.
What mattered was the opinion of the little girl listening to my half of the conversation. I chose to be strong for her. I chose to shelter her from what I might have said. So I told her that I was not going to tell her my side and I hung up. My daughter gave me a hug and in that moment I felt we were going to be ok.
Children lose their innocence far too young today. They don’t need to know the things they are exposed to. I think we could learn from the farmers and incubate our little ones just a little longer.
Photo by seabass creatives on Unsplash