This is a hard one to talk about. Even for me and I’m usually open to discuss pretty much anything. (Sex, vaginas, mental health, even my feelings). But it’s been playing on my mind a lot recently and I know it’s because Maia’s getting older and more aware of what’s going on. – More aware that her father and I are not in fact “mummy and daddy that live together, share a bed, share the bills and share our problems”, but are “mummy and daddy that live apart, share Whatsapp messages, photos, videos and a few polite words face to face once a week.”
The guilt never really goes away. It sort of sits there in the back of my head just waiting and sometimes if I’m having a really crappy day or moment, I’ll think it: “Her parents aren’t together. Will this break her heart the way it breaks mine when I think about it?”.
I am a little anxious that we’re not setting the example for Maia of what a “rock solid steady healthy relationship” looks like. That we’re not your average “family unit”. We live with my parents, so everything’s a bit upside down. She will never remember us a couple, she’ll never know what it’s like with her parents together, holding hands or showing each other affection. In some ways this makes me sad, but as a positive, she will never have to suffer the immediate effects of a breakup, because we’ve already been through it, she’ll have grown up with us apart. I like to think remaining civil, showing that we get along and that she is our sole focus is the most important thing. There is no stress anymore, no pressure to act as if we’re happy when we weren’t. It sounds awful because of course a child needs her father, but it feels right. I know there are thousands of children who only see their father at weekends, or even less if they work abroad often, so really I’m just glad he comes as much as he does. They have their quality time together – once or twice a week- and I know he’d do anything for her.
Fortunately for my conscience, there are two people in Maia’s life with a wonderful relationship, it’s no perfect example, (well what’s a perfect example?) but it’s twenty-six years of marriage. I would say my parents are rock solid and steady, if a little odd. They are an unusual pair in many ways, but somehow it works. I hear Mum come home from work and talk about her day whilst Dad listens with genuine interest, I hear them laugh together, plan our holidays. I hear them happy. It hasn’t always been this way, Dad’s depression brought some horribly dark times but I believe this only made their marriage stronger. I also feel their individual weirdness compliments each others’ perfectly.
I do sometimes think what will the consequences be to raising her as a single mother. Will she lack confidence? Will she be insecure? Will it bother her, bringing friends over to her grandparents house? Will she compare herself to others whose parents are together? Will she need therapy and if so how much?!
I sort of get the feeling I know the answer to these questions, if we handle the situation accordingly. It’s really down to the way we interact with one another and the way I talk about her Dad. I would never talk negatively about him to Maia and I would expect the same from him. (The pages of my journal are a different story…Lord I do hope she never finds them…). Although we are no longer in a relationship, the same elements are still necessary for everything to work between the three of us; trust, respect, communication, and a general feeling of friendliness. Children sense tension far more than we realise. (Okay I admit I am still waiting for the general feeling of awkwardness to dissipate but I realise I may be waiting a while).
I try and reassure myself that at least she won’t grow up in a stressful household, parents always arguing, tension in the air. I would rather show my daughter it is better to be alone, than with someone that doesn’t make you happy. – For alone is not an unhappy place to be.