My children are young adults in their early 20’s. I had all three in 3.5 years so they are close in age, and they have close bonds with each other, too. I always felt that it was a great gift that I had such wonderful kids who understood what it meant to be family.
We are one of those families where everybody rallies together immediately to help one another. We generally all know within minutes when something happens to one of us. Well, as I was reading all those emails on D-day, I had the presence of mind to know that I didn’t want our children to know about this, at least not until I had time to think it through. One of our daughters, Lee, rents our downstairs apartment from us, so I didn’t want to be raising hell with my husband upstairs when she was home. She had told me the evening before that she was riding to work with her husband the next day. I found the emails later that night and spent all night reading them. I heard her husband leave in the morning, so I figured Daniel and I were alone in the house.
It turned out that Lee was not feeling well and didn’t go to work early with her husband. She was home when I lashed out at my husband.
I didn’t want her to go through that all alone, so later in the day I called the other two and told them. They both screamed and cried and wanted to come home to be with Lee and me. My son wanted to throw Daniel out of the house. I told them that they needed to stay in school, but I hoped they would support their sister from there.
So my children have gone through this journey with me. They would have found out anyway. I went into shock and suffered PTSD and they would have known that something terrible had happened to me. Especially in our family, since we have always been so close and have always spent so much time together… Mom had always been the optimist and cheerleader of the family… it was hard on everyone.
After the initial shock, I kept most of my pain to myself and tried not to let it affect them too much. We celebrated each of their graduations in a big way and the whole family helped to get each one settled into their new adult lives. But it’s not all excitement and happiness. They are each going through their own personal turmoil.
They were so well-adjusted. Each one had determined their initial career path and went after it with determination. Each one knew what they wanted in relationships and had good people skills… They are all still achieving great things at work. But something is amiss now in each of their lives. My two girls seem to have this notion that they have to protect themselves from the cruel world. They are no longer open and they definitely do not trust easily. Just like me. His affair did not just hurt me. It hurt all of us, even though they were out of the house already when D-day came around.
My son has written off committed relationships altogether, at least for the foreseeable future. He says that if Mom couldn’t make a marriage work, no one can. Such a sweetheart… but that’s not the idea I wanted him to take away from all this. He insists that family and friends are enough for him now.
And now my oldest daughter Lee is having her own marriage and infidelity issues. Her pain cuts deep into each of us.
They are all good kids and gifted in their own way. They will find their way to their best selves, I’m sure. And we are all still really close. But they’ve each taken a stance on relationships that will lead them down a hard road. It’s sad. Just sad.