Now that I finally have a place to go and I will be moving, we had to come out and tell the kid that we are going to split.
For weeks I dreaded having to tell her because I thought that she would be totally devastated and damaged by the news and that she would hate me because I am the one moving out of the family home. I literally spent days having extreme panic attacks knowing that she was going to be traumatized and would never be the same after we broke it to her.
The day came on Friday. We were getting ready for dinner and I pointed out to Ben that the move is less than 2 weeks away and we did want to give her a little time (but not too much time) to let it sink in so that she could ask questions and be prepared for seeing me pack boxes and pick out paint colors. And I told Ben that he was going to have to be the one to actually say the words to her because I didn't think I could keep it together long enough to get it out.
We sat down and he told her we had to have a family discussion. Then he simply said, "Mommy and I have decided that it would be best for everyone if we lived in separate places..." He tried to tell her that I am moving upstairs from Grandma and that she will spend plenty of time with both of us but she was lost in her emotions.
She burst into tears. She hugged me and cried and said that she didn't want to move and that she didn't want me to leave. She told us that she loved that house and that she wanted us to stay together. It was seriously the worst, most heartbreaking moment of my entire life. I mean, what do you do when you know your kid is hurting and it's your fault and you can't do anything to make it better?
I tried my best to stay calm but the tears rolled down my face. I wanted to tell her to forget it. That we made a mistake and things would just stay the way they are but I couldn't. Because even though a part of me really wants to do that and pretend that everything is fine, I know that in the long term everyone will be better off this way.
We sat and attempted to explain to her that she isn't leaving the house and that she isn't exactly moving but as a 5 year old she cannot quite grasp the idea that she will be able to spend equal time with both of us. The questions ranged from the logical (What if I am with Daddy and I want Mommy?) to the totally random (What if my bedroom misses me when I am gone?).
That night at bedtime she told me she was going to ask me exactly 4 questions about it and that was it. So she formulated 4 things that she deemed important. She asked if she was going to go to the same school. "Yes," I said. She asked if she could bring some of her things over. "Of course," I said. She asked what would happen if Daddy really missed her when she was with me. "That's what we have telephones and Skype for," I said.
Then she asked if we could get a kitten. My kid already knows how to milk a situation for all it's worth. Talk about timing. How could I say no when I had just totally ruined her life, right? "We'll see," I said. And that was good enough for her.
In the following days she talked about it surprisingly little and when I tried to bring it up she just kind of ignored me. I am going to let her lead on this one. I figure that once she starts to see the boxes and hears the talk about the move that she will ask more questions. But she seems far from damaged and distraught. In fact, she seems downright NORMAL by all standards. Is it possible that she may be okay after all? That she will survive this whole process, perhaps a little worse for wear but mostly okay? As a parent that is all that I am asking for.