While living under the same roof worked for Husband and me during the weekdays because of our work schedules (I worked during the day and he worked during the night), we had to come up with a plan for the weekends. And the plan we came up with was simple. We would alternate weekends at home with the kids. Husband and I would be the ones shuffling in and out of the house. The kids wouldn’t have to be displaced.
On Husband’s assigned weekends with the kids, I didn’t actually have to leave the house until early Saturday morning when Husband got home from his Friday night out, I mean, working. I would then come back on Sunday evening and Husband would immediately take off. When it was my weekend with the kids, Husband would leave the house on Friday afternoons and not return until Monday morning when it was time for him to drop off the kids at school.
I remember one weekend when it was Husband’s turn with the kids at home and I was staying at my cousin’s house. I was already feeling super emotional about not getting to spend time with the kids. I hated being away from them even for a minute. I didn’t ask for it. Why couldn’t Husband just leave the house on all of weekends and let me stay with the kids instead? He was the one who was trying to figure his deal out. Not me. Why did I have to suffer without my babies?
On this particular weekend, I had just arrived at my cousin’s house and was lying down in the guest bedroom when I received a text from my oldest daughter who was 9 at the time. She wanted to know where I was and why I couldn’t bring them with me. She told me that she wanted to be with me that weekend. She told me that she already missed me. I tried my best to be upbeat but her disappointment still came through loud and clear when I told her that I couldn’t pick her and her siblings up. I assured her that I’d be home as early as I possibly could the next afternoon.
The minute my daughter and I ended the conversation, I burst into tears.
I hated that my daughter was upset and didn’t understand why she couldn’t be with me. I hated that despite our attempts to spare the kids from any of the drama that Husband and I were going through, they were still impacted.
Where Husband and I were resolute about not publicly announcing our separation we were just as adamant about not telling the kids. We never wanted to use the word “separated” with them because we didn’t want to worry and put thoughts of possible divorce in their heads. We were ok to leave it at “Mom-and-Dad-are-not-getting-along-so-we-so-we-just-need-some-space-from-each-other”.
But we all know that kids are smarter than we think. I’m guessing that they were able to see right through us. I bet my older two children knew what we really meant even though we weren’t saying the actual words. And you know, I was still ok with leaving it that way.
Maybe one day when they’re older I’ll be able to tell all three of my kids the truth about what happened all those years ago. Maybe I’ll be able to tell them about their dad’s infidelity and how it shaped me, us, into the people we are today.
My first-born once told me that she would never stand for a guy cheating on her. And that if her future husband ever cheated on her, that would be it. She would never forgive him. For her, cheating was non-negotiable and unforgivable, something she would never ever forgive.
I shudder at the thought of what she might think of me and all that I allowed her dad to do to me.