Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Temporary Nature of Relationships

My soon-to-be 10 year old was born with a wise soul.

She seemed to have come into this world with an otherworldly understanding and feeling of life and the people she encounters. This is both an amazing and challenging experience for me as a mother. I often find it difficult to hide things from her and at other times, I may even neglect to hide some things because of her beyond-her-years maturity. It is a delicate balance, for sure.

As an example, lately she's become more aware of the cost of things. In the past few years, she's downplayed her birthday party so that it won't be an expensive endeavor for us. I certainly don't mind this. She balances it out with the electronic gifts she asks for anyway!

I don't think I spend exorbitant amount of time talking about finances with my daughter but she is aware that "things cost money" and we could save the money to buy something else at a later date. This awareness works for me and it is rubbing off on her little sister as well.

My daughter's awareness has also turned to the temporary nature of relationships.

When Gentleman Jack and I go more than a few weeks without a visit due to the long distance between us, for instance, she begins to inquire whether we're still together.

"You DO still talk, right? And text and stuff?"

I think it makes her concerned that we may just fade away... as evidenced in my previous relationship. Her father's new relationship has been volatile as well. From my understanding, there have been more than a few times they were no longer dating only to come back together later. I typically hear about these breakups from my children. They're typically hearing about them when the breakup is over and his girlfriend's children fill my daughters in on what happened.

She was only 4 when her father and I separated and she was VERY aware of what was happening. We kept it quiet, only having mild heated discussions outside and only after she was in bed asleep. He was gone on business trips so she didn't witness much of anything. But she felt it... every time he was gone, in the sadness in my eyes and in the discomfort when he returned.

Now, though she adores the ex-husband's girlfriend and begs to see Gentleman Jack whenever she can, she also expresses a complete acceptance that those relationships may not be forever.

In discussion about whether Jack and I will marry, I asked her not to worry. Neither of us plan to move to each others' town.

"Who knows," I told her, "Maybe in 10 years or so when your sister and you are grown..."

"If you're still together then." she notes, nonchalantly and without an visible trace of sadness.

I looked away after she said this, so she wouldn't see my crinkled brow. As a divorced parent, I am already concerned with how our past will affect my daughters' futures. I've already asked the question, "Will raising them as an independent woman create more independent women... who believe they don't need men?"

I agree we don't "need" a man to complete us but we do "need" the differences and challenges and growth that a relationship brings to our lives. I also agree that having an understanding that relationships may not mean "forever" is healthy.

However, part of me mourns. She may not grow up, as I did, believing a prince will sweep her off her feet into "happily ever after"... but will viewing relationships as fleeting serve her well?

What are your thoughts?

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