A Letter to My Daughter About My Divorce

Dear Daughter:

In just a week or so, you will be 4. Your life is full of wonder and fun. You love princesses, fairies, My Little Pony, The Muppets, drawing, singing, playing pretend, dancing, chocolate, stickers, books, and Snoopy. You tell me your opinion on everything, yet still beg me to carry you from time to time and petition to sleep in my bed with me.

You still believe in fairy tales and that one day you could legitimately (in your mind) marry your father, yet are already faced with big life questions like, why doesn't Daddy live here anymore?

You are old enough to remember Daddy was once in the house when it was the three of us, a little family. You are young enough still that one day this will be a distant memory, and this comforts me. At times it may seem as if the three of us is just a photograph and nothing more, although that's not the case. We are still intertwined, even if we aren't all in the same house.

Choosing to divorce was heartwrenching for your father and me. It wasn't just that we had to acknowledge how all our years invested in each other didn't matter. That we didn't work no matter how much we tried. It wasn't just the financial devastation to both of us and the nights spent sitting down at the kitchen table trying to figure out who would have you on what days.

It was knowing that no matter what, a part of you will always wish we could all be together and knowing that no matter how hard we wish, we can never make that happen for you. And what mother or father likes going to bed at night knowing she or he can't make a child's wish come true? None of us. Going through the divorce process this past year when you turned 3 meant blowing up the idea of fairy tales in many ways early on for you. And while divorce is the only choice for us at this point, and we will hopefully move on to create lovely blended families for you, it's hard sometimes knowing we put a bullet in your heart. Sometimes the right thing to do isn't always the easiest or most fun thing to do.

When you look back at old wedding photos of us, you won't remember the people you see in those images. They will look like aliens to you, but indeed, we were so happy. You will probably wonder how we got from that point to divorce until you get older and see that your dad and I can't help it. We operate on two different planets, but really, I wish I could give you one easy answer to explain, but it is a whole host of things. For now, just know that I will always have love in my heart for your father. He is a wonderful father who wants so much for you to be happy. We do everything in our power to align our goals when it comes to you, even if we fight sometimes. At the end of the day, though, know that there was no greater joy in our lives than bringing you into the world.

You might get the notion that you were at fault for our divorce. It's common for kids to feel this way. Let me nip that in the bud right now, though. You are perfectly perfect and you. You had nothing to do with our divorce. Even if you flew down and sprinkled magic pixie dust on us, your father and I do not work. Magic isn't strong enough to make this happen. The divorce has everything to do with who we are, what we both value, how compatible we aren't . . . and nothing to do with how amazing you are. Even if you screamed all day long, every day . . . set our home on fire . . . beat us until we were blue . . . the divorce is not one inch your fault.

You are obsessed with fairy tales and still believe that the prince saves the princess in distress. As you get older, you will learn fast that you are no woman in distress, nor do you want to be! No one but you needs to save yourself. Until then, though, keep believing in happy endings and happily ever afters. Keep hoping for pots of gold at the ends of rainbows. Dream on about the ability to fly, unicorns, magical kisses, and talking trolls. Don't ever part with your love for the silver lining . . . the wish fulfilled. There is everything right with dreaming. Keep imagining, my little one.

Never, ever bottle all your happiness up in one person. When I met your father, I believed I was not a worthy person. Love and happiness were for better people, not me. And when he chose me, I believed he was better than I was. I believed I was lucky someone decided to love me, rather than believe I was worth that love. I felt like Cinderella when I saw your dad, a Prince Charming look-alike with a sweet, old-fashioned demeanor. I thought I needed to be "fixed" up when really I was just fine as I was. Please always believe that you are wonderful. No one else gets to decide if you are worthy enough.

No one else gets to put a price tag or value judgment on how good you are as a person. Only you set that standard. Only you decide how worthy you are and what you deserve.

And when it comes to finding happiness, let another person be the icing on your cake, but never let that person, man or woman whomever you choose, be the whole cake. Do not rely on someone else to make your life better. That's your job. Build a life that makes you happy and then when you feel you have met someone who will add a splash of color and joy into your world, invite that person in but remember: you can rescind the invitation. People don't get to stay forever if they can't be good to you. Protect your heart and believe in yourself, and if you find the company you keep doesn't share your vision, find better company.

I already know that you are a strong woman. You are one of the only 2-year-olds I know that could tell a 40-year-old man that it "wasn't his turn yet." You are afraid of no one, and you're tough. There were times when I thought, "Oh, wouldn't it be nice if you were a little more sensitive like me," and then I corrected myself and said, "No. Thank God you aren't sensitive like me." You are perfectly yourself and will be yourself without apologizing. You will not waver on what you think or believe, even if the person next to you wants you to. Men will be afraid of this. Too bad for them. Never, ever alter who you are to please anyone else. There is only one "you," and we love you this way.

Daughter, you may wish in your mind for all of us to be together again, and I tell you, be glad we are not. Your parents are happier apart, and there is no burden worse than living under a roof with two miserable parents. It may stink at times and having two homes is no small feat, but we promise that while this may not feel like a happy ending today, a few tomorrows from now into the future, it will be. Sometimes, even I forget this. You may see me cry here and there, although I try to put on a brave face. Always know that it's OK to cry and it's OK to grieve, but always move forward and never stop believing.


Your Perfectly Imperfect Mother