I was just a baby girl child, only three years old when she and my Daddy decided that they couldn’t live together anymore, that they fought too much and were just not right for each other. I remember them fighting, but somehow knew it wasn’t about me, and let it happen without getting too scared or upset, as I recall, anyways.
So when we moved out of the apartment and me and my mama had a sleepover with Nana, which happened occasionally, it didn’t seem too strange. After a couple of days, though, I noticed things were different right around the same time Mama crouched down and looked me straight in the eyes. She said that she lived with Nana and Pop now, and that Daddy lived with Memaw and Grandad, and that I was welcome to stay anywhere I wanted to.
This is pretty heavy shit for anyone, but I was three. I took it like a champ. I remember thinking about it for a minute, realizing the gravity but not really comprehending the situation. Little Amber looked her Mama back in the eye and said “I want to live with Daddy and Memaw now, since I’ve stayed with you and Nana for a couple of days.”
My mama never wept, didn’t freak out, and just nodded and said, “Ok.” I don’t remember feeling her being upset or sad, although I’m sure now she was, somewhat. We went to my Memaw’s house and that was that for a couple of years (visiting regularly of course) until Mama got her own place nearby, a block or so away. I always had my Daddy and Mama nearby me, allowing me to bounce from one to the other on a whim…them and the loving grandparents made me a big safety net of loved ones who I knew cared for me, even though I knew by then that they were humans, with fears, and emotions, just like I was.
My folks were never BIG PARENT people to me, but REAL people. For that, I value them. For that, and for the choice given to someone who couldn’t even tie their own shoes yet, I thank them. And for never letting me see the true anger they bore each other, I thank them as well.
If you hate your mate, then do so. If you love your child, then do so. And for the love of god/goddess/plants or whatever you pray to and believe is watching you, please do not use them as a pawn in your emotional outbursts. Don’t tug them. Remember Solomon, and don’t cut them in half. Remember patience, and let them know they are loved by both and don’t tear them apart with your anger.
The only times I got really angry at my Daddy is when he said something nasty about my Mama. I knew well his anger towards her, but that wasn’t his place to share it with me.
The only times I mistrusted my family is when they spoke against my Daddy…again, it wasn’t their place to tell me “adult” problems…when he was just my Daddy.
I was given a choice that most children are not given. I was given respect, and love, and kept apart from their mutual emotional displays (except that one time, where they nearly broke the fish tank, and I told them off for almost hurting Pierre, ze amazink and also swimmink feesh).
For the love of your children, THINK first, and FEEL on your own. If you can’t seperate it, then seperate yourself and seek counseling, or meditate, or whatever makes you calm and rational. REALLY rational, not just pretending to be so.
Your child thinks, more than you think they do. They know way more than you assume they are aware of. They realize that you are a person, and they are closer to the source. They know it better than you do, the fact that you are a falliable human, and that one day they will have to grow up to be one, too. And they will learn their responses from you.
If you fear, so will they. If you scream, so will they. If you treat them with disrespect, don’t expect them to be around longer than they have to.
It takes two people to make a child, until we learn that cool trick that certain reptiles and amphibians have. And what is the first big lesson we teach our children? SHARING. And if you can’t live it, they can’t learn it. RESPECT. If they can’t see it in the two people they know best, how can they know what it means?
Some of the worst lessons we teach our children are BLAME and FAULT. Now, these are different than their cousin RESPONSIBILITY…who is a valuable friend. Blame and fault cause only pain. Responsibility causes awareness of one’s ability to affect change on a situation and know that you must assume the consequences of that change.
I made a choice that was the fairest choice a toddler could come up with. Sharing. Balance. Fairness, Peace, and LOVE.
You are a mirror. What does your child see when they look into you?
That is what they will be.
Copyright Amber Shehan, May 29, 2011 – You may distribute for non-commercial use. For any other inquiries, please contact [email protected]