a letter to my daughters about our separation

How to talk to kids about getting separated

My dearest Lily & Lexi,

I have something to confess.

I had a lot of fun tonight, while you were at your dad’s. I never thought I’d say that, but it’s true.

Five months ago, the thought of spending nights away from you on a regular basis literally made my stomach hurt. That’s one of the main reason I fought against the separation for so long. I hated the thought of you doing anything cute or fun or for-the-first-time without me, and still do, really, but now that the separation is a reality, I have had to come to terms with it.

So here we are, ten miles apart for one-to-two nights a week, and instead of being sad, I’ve decided to embrace our time apart. Not only and am I going to like it, I’m going to love it because this is what life is presenting us in this moment, and just as I’ve said before,

“If you love life, it will love you back.”

I’m also going to love it because the three of us are together so often, this time apart gives us space which will allow us to appreciate what we have in each other.

Don’t get me wrong, of course I’m thinking of you and missing you like crazy. Like when I take the warm towels out of the dryer and bury my face in them, laughing to myself while envisioning you both wrapping yourselves in them like mummies. Or when I walk by your room and catch a glimpse of your favorite Beanie Boos staring at me (remind me why I agreed to get you that unicorn again!?!?).

But then, I settle in for some “me” time. I work a little, Facebook a little, and catch up on some of my backlogged DVR’d Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon episodes. I drink some wine, text message friends, and even watch some TV up on the high channels (don’t ask, you’ll find out in due time what that means).

What’s so awesome about this situation is that tomorrow is going to be amazing. You know why? Because I’m going to bounce out of bed, with a renewed spirit, waiting for you both to come home. I’m sure you’ll be in good moods because you love your time with dad, eating chocolate chip pancakes and sleeping in a tent in the living room. Even though I had a hard time at first hearing how much fun you have on your nights away, it now brings me a great sense of peace.

Since there is an abundance of unnecessary mom guilt in the world, I’ve decided to not feel guilty for enjoying these nights apart. The mom-guilt zone is treacherous (seriously, any kind of guilt is totally counter-productive). Instead, I am going to “look on the bright side of life,” and know that this is where we are meant to be.

With love and light, and hope that you brush your teeth thoroughly when you’re not at home,

Your Mom XOXOX



  1. 1

    Lovely. While I am sorry that you had to go through this in the first place… happiness seems to be just around the corner for you.
    It’s a testament to you that you are now finding the beauty in the “space”. xoxo

  2. 2
    Laura says:

    You make me cry Mary. I’ve been taking life lessons from you for a long time now. Even though I’m not struggling with the same stressors, there are take home messages here to be applied to any hard life situation.

  3. 3
    Molly W says:

    You, my friend, are a wonderful mom. Have I told you that before?!? Women don’t say that enough to each other. And I believe that to be true in the deepest part of my heart. Thanks for sharing your courage and strength. You’re inspiring others, including me!

  4. 4
    Lisa says:

    So beautifully said, Mary!

  5. 5
    Beth says:

    Next week. You and me. Wine.

  6. 6

    This is amazing! What a great mom you are.

  7. 7
    Tabatha says:

    I am newly separated as well, but my kids’ dad isn’t at a place he can keep them overnight, so I still wrestle with when, eventually, I will be away from them. So thank you for this — now I have a less aside from loss and regret to be able to look at the situation, whenever it comes to pass.

  8. 8
    Tonya Staab says:

    Yup. All of this. Love you lady.

  9. 9

    Perspective is everything, doll, and your girls are going to thrive because you are showing them how to actual DEAL with life, not just put on the pretty face and fake it.
    Love this, in spite of the sucky situation.

  10. 10

    This is such a great post. Your girls are fortunate to have a mom that is a living example of moving forward and creating the life you want to live.

  11. 11
    Mariana Salerno says:

    Love EVERYTHING about this post, but damn you for making me teary at work! Xoxox

  12. 12
    TheNextMartha says:

    Just beautiful. I’m glad you are able to have this for yourself, and them.

  13. 13
    Bryan says:

    This is awesome! I wish more parents had the courage to be honest with their children about situations like these. The beautiful thing that I have learned about children is the amount of resiliency and understanding they have. Thanks for sharing this.

  14. 14
    Kat says:

    Oh Mary I didn’t know. I’m so sorry for the changes, but I hope if I ever find myself in a similar place I am able to look at it just like this. How amazing that you get some time to rejuvenate your spirit and give your best to those girls.

  15. 15
  16. 16

    What an honest and heartfelt post. I think we could all embrace and love life more, regardless of our situation. What a great example you are.

  17. 17

    Mary, this is a beautiful letter and puts things into perspective. When in doubt, smile it out!

  18. 18
    Alli says:

    This is so beautifully written. Looking for the positive is so important and such an inspiration to strive for. You’re an amazing Mom!!!

  19. 19

    misting up over here – so glad you found the highlight in this experience!

  20. 20

    If you love life, it will love you back…. amazing words of wisdom! I know your girls are thinking of you too and making the best of it because of the way you model life… like a winner!

  21. 21
    Sherri says:

    I think being honest like this is exactly what your girls need from you right now… and while I am sorry that you are dealing with this right now, I hear a confident soul in this post. Much love to you, Mary…xoxo

  22. 22
    Mandy says:

    A few months after my separation I realized wandering the house listening to the ghosts of my family was not, as you put it, loving life and allowing it to love me back.

    Now, three years later, I can tell you it gets easier and easier. My babies are safe with their dad and I’ve been able to explore interests I’d never think I had time for: painting, the random yoga class, sea glass hunting…I even get to see movies while they’re in the theater.

    With the added pressure and work it takes to be a single parent – even in the best of circumstances – you need that downtime to breathe. I’m so glad you’ve discovered it.

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