Article by Wendy mcCance
When I began thinking about having children, I pictured the idyllic life for my kids that you love to read about but rarely see. I wanted the kids to have a carefree childhood full of special happy moments. I wanted the kids to feel loved and cared for in a way that would make them feel safe, secure and completely nurtured. I definitely didn’t want them to be touched by any worries that only an adult should have to face. I was in a bad marriage and had a horrible divorce, my entire wish for my kids blew up in my face.
As I write this, I am choking up and have tears in my eyes. For years now I have not been able to completely get over the loss of the dream I had for my kids. It still hurts my heart terribly and the healing has been a slow process, if sometimes a stalled one. I have written about adversity and about how it can actually strengthen your resolve and bring you more success. Trust me when I tell you I have seen this process happen first hand with the kids.
After spending this last weekend with their father, I was told some horrific stories about the way they had been treated. It was emotional not physical, but awful and painful to hear. Lets just say that there was manipulation, put downs and bullying to the point of making the kids break down and cry. It’s just a situation that breaks my heart because I am powerless to change the parenting arrangement at this time. Truly, this is so far from what I could ever possibly envision for my children that I am devastated by it.
There is an unexpected result from all of this trauma. My kids are smart, resilient and (I know this doesn’t make sense) but, confident kids I know. You would think that they would be broken by some of the experiences they have had. The most amazing thing is that they have learned how to deal with a variety of extreme personalities and now a lot of what they are confronted with rolls off their back. They honestly get that it is another person and not them who has some instability which is incredible. They are go-getters who are popular, very active in a variety of activities and take school work incredibly seriously. These are good-hearted kids who don’t walk around with hostility, but have gentle souls and search out those that they can nurture and make feel good about themselves.
If I could see into the future before the kids were born and had a choice between hard times that produced remarkably strong, confident kids or an easy childhood knowing there would be some struggle as they got up to speed on the ways of the world, I would probably choose the second choice. I want them to have it all, but I would be willing for them to struggle a little adjusting to the world out there over being ripped off of the carefree childhood that I think each person is entitled to. You are only a kid once and you can never get that time back.
I am constantly being complimented on how wise and grown-up the kids are. They are often called old souls because of the way they understand so much for being so young. This is the comment that breaks my heart every time I hear it. Sure I’m beyond proud of them, but it’s what got them to this place that should never have been part of their life. They are children, not adults and I don’t celebrate the maturity they show, but mourn it.
In the end though, the kids are doing really well in the face of adversity. Their future looks good and I believe they will have many successes to celebrate. As for me, who knows what the other side of the coin could have been like. I only got to see their lives played out one way. I am grateful that even though my kids are still relatively young, they are strong and teach me amazing things each day.
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Been there. Done that. Got the T-Shirt. I could tell you my own heartbreaking stories but it wouldn’t do any good. All I can tell you is that somehow your kids will get through this and all you can do is be there for them. I would like to tell you that someday they will look back and see how wonderful you were and how awful he was and will “come to their senses.” Don’t hold your breath. Just do your best and in the end, no matter how things turn out you will know down deep inside that you did your best, and that’s all you could do.
Life sucks and that’s how it is. Sorry. You’ll be OK. Your kids will be OK. Hang in there. Sorry.
Love and aloha,
Kay in Hawaii
I always appreciate your straight-forward words of wisdom. Thanks so much for your thoughts, your opinion means a lot. 🙂
First off, your kids seem remarkable and well adjusted. This is a credit to you.
Second, very few kids grow up in that ideal environment now a days. And many of those that get to, quiet a few are unprepared for the harsh realities of the world.
You are giving hope to other mothers (and fathers) that thier kids also can come out the other side very well adjusted. 🙂
My only child, a daughter, Katie Scarlett, was 7 when I separated from her father. Suffice it to say that there were many reasons that I chose to leave him including verbal and emotional abuse and some psychological problems that he refused to address. I worried constantly that our court ordered shared custody would be damaging for my daughter. I saw many of his behaviors that I felt were problematic and wondered how my daughter would be affected.
I realized that there was nothing I could do to change his behavior. All I could control was mine. I tried hard to be kind, loving and most of all consistent and dependable for her. I did my best to try to answer her questions in an age appropriate way and to assure her that she was safe, wanted and loved. I also tried to explain, again as best I could at each age and stage, why I made the choices I did for our life together. I wanted her to be able to understand my reasoning even when she did not agree with it.
I also tried very hard, not always succeeding, not to speak in a negative way about her father and his behavior. I assured her that he loved her and that he was doing the best her could. I felt it was imperative that she learn who he was from her own experiences with him and not from mine.
And I prayed. A lot. I did the best I could and trusted that it would be enough.
Kate will be 21 in a few months. She is a happy, healthy and well adjusted young woman. She is attending college, pursuing a BFA in Photography and working a part-time job in retail and also doing an internship with a wedding photographer. Right now she is in Colorado with her father and is planning a trip to Israel this summer. She is active and has lots of friends. I count myself among them.
She has chosen to live at home while attending school and working. It just makes economic sense. But it also works well for us. She is a fabulous room mate. Caring, kind and thoughtful. We live together well as grown women. I rarely, and I do mean rarely ever have to play the “mommy” card.
I know that I have been blessed. Yes, I was very intentional about the way I raised her, but I was also very lucky. Not everyone is.
As I read your post, Wendy, I see clearly that you are kind, caring, loving and yes, intentional. I pray that you also have luck on your side.
Hi Cynthia, Your comment was so heart-warming. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It helps to hear from others who understand what going through this is like. I am thrilled that your daughter is doing so well. It’s obvious that you did a wonderful job of raising and nurturing her.
Wonderful and heartfelt post Wendy!
As long as they have you, they’ll be great…I have no doubt!
I think you sound like you are doing great. I found it hard to realise my children were not going to have the idyllic life I wished for them too, but each day they grow stronger and I know that yours and mine will stand up to what they know is not right when it’s needed.
Good on you for having courage!
I really appreciate your thoughts. Thanks so much. Wishing you all the best!
Hello Wendy, I realize you have feelings of great mother. It’s natural. But things get out of control or escape from what we have established, is also part of life. I think you’re the best person to give their children a foundation for them to be good people in the future. You said God kids are resilient. This is good. The suffering and going through the “fire” does. Makes people better. I know you know do it for them. You’re a mother. It’s a wonderful person, absolutely.
Thanks so much for your thoughts. I really aprreciate your point of view. 🙂
Tank you. (Obrigada)
De nada (You’re welcome)
Wendy that was so right on. But that’s you! Good job. And as I have alway’s said: your kid’s are blessed to have you for there mother. There GREAT kid’s.
Thank you for this. As someone who grew up like your kids are, I want to say that the fact you recognize it goes a long way. It might seem that could backfire, but I promise you acknowledging makes all the difference
I don’t know your personal story, but I would like to remind you that verbal abuse, emotional abuse, is still abuse. It isn’t a lesser abuse than physical or sexual. I’m sure you know that, and me reminding you doesn’t help you, but I feel an obligation.
I’m sure you have great kids that love you dearly!
Thanks for the heartfelt comment. Yes, I know that emotional abuse is still abuse. I know that the effects of it can forever change the way someone trusts another and how they look at the world. It can be devastating.