Last weekend, another mom told me about part of a conversation she overheard between my daughter and hers. “Your daughter was giving my daughters some good advice,” she said with a smile on her face, letting me in on the joke. “We were talking about how the order of events in life should be college, then marriage, then having kids. Brynn stopped us and said ‘no, you fall in love, kiss, then have babies and then break up.'” I laughed, maybe too loud. Oh isn’t it hilarious how Brynn talks like an adult?!
Moments later, after the other mom had walked away, I turned to my mom in tears. “Did I warp my daughter?” Surely I have scarred her 7 year old brain if she thinks you break up after you have kids. She doesn’t know it’s supposed to be “happily ever after”. She doesn’t know the parents are supposed to stay together to be a parenting team and raise a kid in a healthy home. Now she’s just going to be looking for a sperm donor if she wants to have kids and not an actual partner because she’s never had a good example of what a healthy marriage/relationship looks like and please, Lord, don’t let this make her into a stripper.
Clearly, I had a little bit of a breakdown over her innocent comment. My mom reassured me that I did not warp my daughter, but I needed more time to overthink it all. How can an issue possibly be resolved if you don’t overthink about it for at least a week?
After having some time to process, I’ve decided to believe her comment wasn’t a bad thing. I don’t believe it’s a bad thing that I haven’t hammered “college, marriage, kids” into her head (especially considering she’s only 7). Everyone has a different path, and I don’t ever want her to feel bad if hers doesn’t mirror the “ideal”. She has told me before that she doesn’t want to have kids, and I’ve assured her that that’s okay. If she doesn’t want to get married, that’s okay too. Do I hope that she’ll make better choices than I did in life and not follow the path I did? Of course. I think every parent hopes that for their kids. But ultimately I want her to be happy, healthy, and loved.
As for thinking you break up after you have kids – I am still sad that’s been her experience in life. I don’t think that will ever change. I wish it could have all worked out differently. But, I am glad she doesn’t feel weird about it. To me, that comment means she doesn’t feel like something abnormal happened to her. She doesn’t feel like things didn’t turn out the way they should have. And I am thankful for that. I’d feel worse if she was embarrassed that she had divorced parents or felt sad about it. She sees it as her norm, and I’m at least glad that could come out of the situation. If she was older when we split up, I might not have been so lucky.
It’s hard to raise a kid. It’s hard to feel like you’re doing a decent job at raising a kid. But realizing my kid is pretty well adjusted for what our situation is/has been is the closest I’ve been to feeling like I’m doing a decent job raising a functional human being.