‘Why’s there no daddy in our home?’ I couldn’t speak the truth. I never expected the question so early.’: Single mom discusses divorce with children, ‘They should make their own decisions’

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“‘Why is there no daddy in our home?’

This was a question that popped up recently from Big A. Though she may not speak as well as the average 5-year old yet, you can tell she has a lot on her mind.

How I answered? For one, it wasn’t an easy topic to explain to a little girl. I never expected the question to come this early, or that I’d need to prepare an answer so soon.

So, all I said was, ‘Well… Daddy doesn’t stay here, and some families are like that. There is nothing wrong with that! Sometimes a mummy and a daddy can’t get along well together, and then, they don’t stay together. But you do have a dad. He cares for you in his own way, and that’s all you need to know for now. All I want for you is to be happy. Are you happy?’

Courtesy of Michelle Lim

Big A nodded her head, cuddled me a bit, and went off to play with Small A.

I had so much more in my head, but which I knew I could not speak of. Like the truth behind why daddy isn’t around anymore. How I hate it I am the only one teaching them discipline and values, while their dad comes once a week to play ‘Dad of the Year,’ where anything and everything is okay. I have mixed feelings about them seeing him still. On one hand, it’s great they at least know who their dad is. But on the other hand, I bear the brunt of all the not so great sides of parenting. Sometimes I wish Big A wouldn’t grow up so fast, so she can stay in this innocent phase of her life. But on the other hand, I want her to grow up so she’ll find out the truth and so I don’t need to hide it behind a pained and tired smile anymore.

What IS the truth about their father? There is no proper summary of the trials and tribulations we went through. So, when the girls are big enough and they start to wonder why, how would I respond? I have often played out the scenario of how I would explain things in my head. Starting with how every couple starts with being in love, and yes, we definitely had our good times. However, there were many red flags which I ignored throughout my years with their father. From cultural differences (he and his family are very traditional Chinese, and I was brought up with Western beliefs) to how finances were handled.

On my part, I kept thinking we would work things out as we grew and matured together. But their father started hanging out with the wrong crowd and spending less and less time at home. The burden was fully on me to take care of the household, the bills, and the children. He stole the kids’ and my belongings to sell for cash, on top of taking money from me. The last line was drawn when I found out he was not only using my money to enjoy leisurely activities outside of us, but he had also cheated on me multiple times. Their father finally spat out that he wanted a divorce, as he had no feelings for me anymore. He gave up on us when I hadn’t yet. That’s when I decided my daughters and I deserved a better life, and I had to love myself more.

But for now, all I can do is nurture them and let childhood be as carefree as possible.

Courtesy of Michelle Lim
Courtesy of Michelle Lim

The endpoint is don’t intoxicate your child’s mind that so-and-so are/were bad people. That they should hate them and despise them. It will only work against you because toxicity is not the way to go. They’ll grow up in their own time. In order to be able to do all of this, I had to learn how to appreciate and love myself more. I had to know how to take care of myself before I could take better care of my daughters.

As parents, WE are important too. Our lives may seem to revolve around our tiny humans all the time, and it does. But we should never forget about ourselves. Whether my daughters want to love their father or not in the future is entirely up to them. Because I believe, in time to come, when they learn about the truth, they will be old enough to make their own decisions. Until then, stay happy and create happy memories with them in their ever-fleeting, precious childhood days.”

Courtesy of Michelle Lim

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Michelle Lim. You can follow her journey on InstagramSubmit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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