Slumber Party Talk

Slumber Party Talk

The girls had a slumber party last night.  In total, there were four little girls under the age of 7– tiny, giggling girls who stayed up way past bedtime creating memories that will last a lifetime.  It was the girls first real sleepover and spring break was the perfect opportunity to do it.

As the girls were eating dinner they began talking about where they were born.  Before I knew it the conversation shifted to divorce and before I knew it, four little girls were discussing a very grown up topic.  I continued cleaning the kitchen and listening to their conversation- ready to intervene if necessary.  Then, my daughter said something that gave me chills.  She said to her friend, “One time, I did something bad and my dad squeezed me really hard around my stomach”.  I stopped in my tracks and said, “Honey, you didn’t do anything bad”.  She looked confused.  “I didn’t?”, she asked.  “No.  Remember when we talk about making poor choices?  Daddy made a poor choice- you did not do anything wrong”, I stammered.  I then gracefully shifted the conversation back to a slumber party approved topic before leaving the room to catch my breath.

Back in 2008 when our marriage was coming to an end, I heavily contemplated staying in the marriage to protect my daughters.  I discussed this decision with my family and remember saying to my dad, “I can pretend for the next 16 years”.  Over the next few months I let that statement resonate in my head.  Did I really want to show my daughters a pretend marriage.  Did I want them to think that this is what love is?  Did I want to set them up to fail in their own marriage?  The answer was “no” – I could not pretend for the next 16 years.

I felt that I was doing the right thing by leaving when they were very young.  I still feel like I made the right decision.  I hoped that the memories of our last year together wouldn’t impact them because of their age but that was naive of me.  Three years after the fact, my daughter holds onto those memories and to many others.  While I don’t know how to fix it for her, I can work with her counselor to ensure that she can talk about these issues in a safe environment.  I am thankful that she has other friends from divorced families so that she can openly share memories and emotions.

4 Responses

  1. You DID do the right thing! You will not teach your daugther to stick up for herself or do what’s right if you don’t do it yourself. I struggled with the same thought process and it took many friends and family members to remind me that by leaving my X I was teaching my daughter a fabulous lesson. If I would have stayed in the horrible, abusive relationship the pattern would likely continue. I am now often told that I’m looked up and admired for leaving such a bad situation. One friend whom is a college professor told me, “I’ve never heard a student say how proud they are of their mom for staying with their father that abused them and treated them like dirt.” It doesn’t really make it easier in the whole picture, but it makes me feel better for my decisions.

  2. A friend of mine was in a bad situation (abusive husband in every way except physically) in her marriage at the same time mine was. She came to me at one point and said, “the reason I can’t spend time with you is that when I’m with you I’m jealous of you (for fleeing). I have to stay with ‘M’, and when I’m around you, I think I can leave.

    She put up with it for seven more years.

    Now, all but one of the five children college-bound or in college, and with all of the savings and retirement gone, with more than 20 years of “only” “being at home” and no “work” experience…..she made the break. She wanted to stay ‘for the kids’, but I see the difference in the older boys vs the younger children: the older boys disrespect women, just like their ‘highly-christian’ father.

    My boys have had a rough time of it. With X, there was no way around ‘insanity’. But *THEY* are young men of character.

    I just want to hug you….

  3. I also got to a point early on when the pastors and elders and community members wouldn’t believe me, and I had to ‘arm’ my kids with:

    “Emergency: call 911”
    [the # for child protective services]
    [their personal counselor phone #]

    BUT…I had to have them hide it safely where their dad wouldn’t find it…and have them each commit to ‘looking after’ each other. It just was that messed up.

    And a ‘pretend’-pastor-missionary. With all the other christians thinking he’s one step below god himself, and me the horrid woman who would leave such a good man….