Transition for Children after Separation and Divorce

There are things that no one will teach a mother who’s just gone through a separation or a divorce. Because this is a life terrain that has a bitter taste in our mouths. You can’t have a discourse of preparedness just in case divorce happens. So we learn in the process.

As the adults bang or rather close doors at each other, the children are somewhere in their world trying to open it.  Saying things in their minds and at the same time scared about the door shutting completely or staying open. They’re scared when the door is shut because they won’t have a feel of the other parent as it used to be.  And they’re scared of it remaining open in case of abuse, they’re scared of the outcome of the fights.

separation and divorce

I had really tried my best to not let my children watch the Shakahola massacre that happened in Kenya some times last year, but because they have conversations in school… I got home one evening and they were all watching in horror the body bags, such chilling images. 

My daughter turned to me and said  “Mummy kama ungebaki kwa marriage yako ungekuwa hivi”?(Mummy if you had remained in your marriage, would you have been like those in the body bags?) as she pointed at them. I didn’t respond because how do you even respond? Yes, my daughter carries not people’s problems so she’ll refer to it as “marriage yako” (your marriage).

Children need guidance ...

I sat and wondered how much processing my children have been doing and also, have I given them space to process it all? It got me thinking that if I am yet to process much more in regards to the abuse, separation and divorce, in-laws, my family and everything else that happened, what of the children?

I realized that I really need to be gracious with them the same way I ought to be gracious with myself. 

It’s a process.

Children who’ve been abused by proxy are like boils waiting to burst open. They’re edgy and calm at the same time.They carry with them the stench of the former  home to the new atmosphere. They’re high and low, happy and sad. They’re processing and so are we.

There are days that I was ignorant of the fact that my offsprings were also processing. I’d dress up my little gal for school, peacefully at her pace. Then the driver would be hooting, it’s time for school, that’s when she’ll be up in screams and running to hide under the bed and shouting “nataka daddy” (I want daddy)she’d scream her lungs out. 

Driver hooting and there’s commotion, then the brother goes to talk to her she couldn’t hear of it. My attempts were always futile. The brother would go to school without her, I’d later tag her along on my way to work, drop her to school and proceed to work or rather hide in the washroom and cry my eyes out the first 30 mins.

It’s never an issue of, oh daughters and their dads, sons and their mothers. No. Children just love the idea of having both parents. 

Due to the desperation during those days I called the other parent and asked if he can parent three days in a week as I do four days. But most men love the idea of children but not the reality of their nitty gritties. We swam on. 

These things were happening after the first year of separation, One Saturday I needed to drop my son to school as the sister stayed home sleeping. In my mind I thought she won’t be awake till I’m back. Woe unto me, I got home to a wailing house “mummy ameniacha” (mummy has abandoned me) you know the cries  where the voice disappears? She had cried it all.

Battling abandonment issues

I then realized my daughter is battling abandonment issues. Going to school made her feel unsafe because family is not with her. You leave her alone in the house assuming she’ll be fine, in her mind she’s been abandoned.

Us walking our separate ways left her thinking she can be dropped anytime time by either of us.

She’s taken me through cycles of emotions. I have teared because when I am helpless I just cry.

I have learnt to hold her like a baby and just let her feel safe, secure and protected. I have learnt to assure her about us sticking together no matter what. 

I have learnt to hold her hand, to let her share my bed and clamp on me  at the age of nine. When she misses her father we talk about it, when she wakes up and says … hata nitahama niende kwa daddy…(I will move to daddy’s place) I don’t land on her with pans and slippers. I listen, we discuss and find a solution.

I envy those who divorced before they had children.

They have the time to process their own transition without the burden of the kids.

My son is also going through his transitions at his own pace. I have seen him angry, so angry that he’d break the doors.

He’s escaped from home several times. He’s been through trenches, I haven’t even healed from. But he gets better each day.

Recently he told me, mummy, do you know how hard it is to live only with one parent? Mummy I just want a daddy… I didn’t respond immediately until he asked “mummy have you listened?” And I was like …”You know people don’t just find men and marry them, they take their time when a relationship ends so that they think and choose right. Then he goes like “mummy, I don’t care, I just need a daddy”.

Stawi Camp helped me

I had to bring in something I learnt in Stawi Camp  class, with Dr. Carol Chakua. Being an emotional container for my children. I had to ask him for a date. We talked more on that matter in depth.

Same time his sister Ella asked me mummy, so you chose daddy? 🤔 I had to ask her to give me some time, then we’ll be able to talk about choices and even listen to her on what she thinks about choices but I still had to say … Yes, I chose daddy. But we had to part ways, so that we don’t hurt one another.

A mother walking away with her children

We’re soon clocking 4 years but transition still happens, it keeps happening. 

I don’t like this transition in particular. But it’s a journey that teaches us GRACE. And at the same time we learn and learn more on the Lord’s GRACE. 

How are you handling your children’s transition process especially if your marriage was abusive? Sometimes we assume that our children are OK until, and just until then.

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