A Letter To My Oldest About My Divorce


A Letter To My Oldest About My DivorceLast night as I was tucking you into bed, you looked uncharacteristically contemplative. I pulled up the covers and brushed your hair away from your forehead, looking deep into those big wide eyes by the glow of your nightlight, and I asked you what you were thinking about.

“Well, tomorrow we’ll go to Daddy’s house,” you said just above a whisper, trying not to wake your little brother already breathing to the rhythm of deep sleep in the top bunk. He always falls asleep so quickly, but not you. Bedtime is your prime time for overthinking. Worries and anxieties always seem to rise to the surface as you lay your head down to sleep.

“That’s right,” I responded. “Tomorrow you’ll go to Daddy’s house, and you’ll be there for one week.”

“Well,” you said slowly, trying to string your thoughts together, “I just want you to know that I’m going to really miss you.”

There’s so much meaning packed into that one line.

I can’t decide whether you’re telling me to comfort me, in case you think I’m worried that you’ll forget me while you’re gone or whether you are feeling extra sad tonight on the eve of your departure to Daddy’s since we’ve started our new co-parenting schedule. I can also see you hesitating to voice this thought, as if telling me that you’ll miss me is some sort of betrayal to Daddy, as if it somehow means that you won’t enjoy his house as much as you should. As usual, I struggled to figure out how to respond.

“It’s okay to miss me while you’re gone,” I reassured you. “I’m going to miss you, too. You know what I do when I feel sad? I try to concentrate on all of the happy things. Just think about all of the good things about staying at Daddy’s house and all of the fun that you’re going to have with him this week. You’ll be back again with Mommy before you know it.”

I stayed in your room that night long after you fell asleep, watching your chest rise and fall, and just soaking in your presence. Bedtime is my prime time for overthinking too, and that night in particular, I was just a bundle of worries and doubts. On nights like that, all I can do is offer up my prayers and my dreams for your future, and try to go to sleep with more hope in my heart than discouragement.

I hope you haven’t lost your childhood. I hope that despite this enormous family divide that you have to cross every other week, you will still be able to capture the wonder and magic of being a child.

I hope you’re eating your vegetables at your Daddy’s house. And brushing your teeth. And avoiding too much screen time.

I hope your bond with your brother strengthens through this experience. He is your one constant in the midst of transitioning from household to household, and I hope as you two get older, he will be your confidant and pillar of support through even the darkest of times.

I hope that you never lose faith in the nuclear family. Just because Daddy and I couldn’t get it right doesn’t mean that you won’t. I hope your own desire to get married one day isn’t dampened by the failure of our marriage.

I hope that you grow stronger through this experience, better able to handle responsibility and independence. I already see you trying to help and guide your little brother through the challenges he’s facing that you’ve already walked through, and I’m so so proud of who you are and who you’re becoming.

I selfishly hope that you still need me. Even though we will spend a lot of time apart, I hope there are still needs in your life that only I can fill. I hope you don’t immediately grow out of the feeling of wanting your mommy.

I hope that one day this will all make sense. There are so many questions that you have for me that I can’t answer yet — you’re still too little. But I hope that one day we can sit down at a table together, adult-to-adult, and I can explain so many things about this confusing and heartbreaking period of both of our lives, and I hope you can forgive both Daddy and me for putting you through it.

Someday, I hope. But for now, it’s time to go to sleep.


  1. You are so brave and courageous not only to share this but to live it everyday. You are doing the very best for you and your boys right now. Your honesty and the way you have handled such a difficult situation will remain with Jake and Teddy for the rest of their lives! Never doubt how much they love you, God loves you, and we love you! ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•

  2. Rachel, this is a great post. You are an awesome writer. I am so sorry you and the boys are going through this. Donโ€™t ever doubt yourself because you are doing an amazing job with everything you are dealing with. You always put your boys first and they will not forget that. Hang in there Rachel. I love you!!


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