Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mom, We Need a Crib

Jake asked if his father could set up a crib for Elke.

Half of me wants to cry. The other half wants to feel overjoyed that he's so in love with her. Ugh.

Has our good co-parenting model confused Jake? Maybe he thinks we're just one big happy family? As my mother so wisely pointed out, I can't make this better for Jake. I can't buy him a crib for his sister at his father's house. His sister doesn't live at his father's house. My kids have two different fathers. That means when Jake goes to his Dad's every other weekend, he goes on his own.

I've been struggling with how to handle this and it's not been easy. Recently, I interviewed two experts for an article I wrote for iVillage about "16 Ways to Make Divorce Easier on the Kids." They had some excellent advice for parents that I had to apply to myself: 1) Don't shy away from adult conversation. 2) Let your kid know it's okay to be angry.

So I talked to Jake yesterday. I told him there were good and bad elements of the divorce, just as there are good and bad elements of life. Bad that his sister doesn't get to go with him and that he misses her when he's gone. I told him I knew what that was like since my brother and I were split up as kids too. Good that he gets to have alone time with his dad without having to share with anyone.

One thing I didn't do was make it entirely okay, which, wow, that was a difficult mommy exercise. We always want to make everything okay for them! I told him that he can be angry if he wants about it. "I'm not angry about anything, Mommy," he said. Well, just wait a few years, my love. Or maybe not. Maybe he'll just accept it as is and understand that I've done my best. But then there's Elke. This is a 17-month-old who walks around asking for her brother "Jake, Jake, Jake," all day long. It makes my heart ache.

I think Jake's dad and I are going to meet at the park with the kids at some point. And when she gets older, it's possible that she'll be able to spend some time with Jake and his dad if everyone is open to it. I'm not usually so down about this sort of stuff, but wanting to make it better... well, you can't always make it better. You can make it palpable. But not always better.

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