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“My mom took a year off” he said

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Prayingforhope posted 5/23/2014 11:23 AM

A few years ago a dear friend told me about how his mom “took a year off” from the family when he was around 12 years old. When he described it at the time the story simply made no sense to me. He would tell me how his dad, for the year, was their sole caregiver, responsible for every meal, breakfast in the morning, getting them to school, doing their laundry, taking them to and fro all their events, homework, etc. In a nutshell he described his mom as “fed up” and literally took a year off from the family to focus on herself. She then returned to her role in the family after the year was up.

This friend reached out to me last week after many years and I recalled his crazy story about his mom and all of a sudden IT MADE PERFECT SENSE. I look at my family today and the way we’re living, with me being responsible for most of the time with the boys (all weekends, all homework, all parent-teacher conferences, most of the cooking, all the shopping, all vacation trips, plus dinner and breakfast during the week, with most of their other meals shared alone with their nanny) and I realized, my kids could easily describe their own mother as “taking time off from the family.”

Obviously I’m not going to question my friend about what might have happened between his parents all those years ago, but what made no sense previously, now makes perfect sense as I watch my wife go through her healing process. She has said many times in MC she had to take the decision to “put the oxygen mask on her” and only focus on herself for a while. And with my absolutely support, that is what has been happening for the past 7 months. Obviously, it’s been a traumatic process for me personally to see her so removed from the family, from the boys, from our marriage but I understand it is critical to her own survival right now. I pray that eventually she also returns at some point to our family, but only time will tell on that front.

So there we are. It never ceases to amaze me how much more we see having gone through dday and the emotional destruction and healing that follows and the deeper insight that provides into ourselves and that of our spouses. Happy Friday everyone.

Jrazz posted 5/23/2014 17:26 PM

It never ceases to amaze me how much more we see having gone through dday and the emotional destruction and healing that follows and the deeper insight that provides into ourselves and that of our spouses.

Nicely put.

The thing is, I don't get how this isn't still completely damaging to the poor kids - this break.

I'll be honest, I took a break from family stuff directly regarding FWH. I didn't do his laundry, clean up after him, I made him take over the bills (huge mistake, that)... but I was still completely committed to being DD's mom. I would cook for her. I would clean for her. Granted, she was an infant, but I still did playgroups and playdates and outings...etc. Did I feel like the affair took away my identity as wife? Absolutely. Mother? Hell no.

I guess what I'm saying is that while I understand the compulsion to completely check out, I still don't think it's the right thing to do to a child. I would imagine that the psychological ramifications would be enormous. Check out for a week or a month, maybe. A year? I'm saddened and confused.

annb posted 5/23/2014 19:43 PM

The thing is, I don't get how this isn't still completely damaging to the poor kids - this break

^^^THIS! I also have three boys who were a bit older than yours upon discovery of the A, and although after D-Day I was not as emotionally present as I had been, I was STILL there. Maybe just going through the motions sometimes, but they lacked for nothing even on those days when I could hardly get out of bed. I was still their mom no matter what.

Are your boys in counseling?

Dance4Me posted 5/23/2014 19:56 PM

Wow - hard to understand how a mom could check out completely for a year like that. Like Ann, I was physically there and present in their daily life, but I wasn't emotionally there all the time - especially on my bad days! I had no where else to go and stayed in our family home, even when I was fence sitting for quite some time. My FWH did pick up the slack more than ever during those first few years I was healing, but at the end of the day, my kids were my first priority with everything!

I am sorry your kids are dealing with the aftermath of your infidelity and your wife's healing. At some point, for the sake of the children and the marriage, she needs to stop fence sitting and decide what she ultimately wants.

If there is an underlying mental illness on top of the infidelity, maybe I am wrong here. I am just going by what I know as a deeply hurt, healing BS and mother of three.

myownmaster posted 5/23/2014 20:07 PM

BS here. Have you spoken to her about the potential ramifications of not being there for the boys? Especially the eldest. Guys are deeply affected by their mother's actions. Kinda like how sons who's mothers had affairs tend to have trust issues with women, your son who is old enough to deeply feel this sort of abandonment may fear getting close to women when he's older. Some resentments don't go away easily.

Sorry to pile on your wife. You obviously are protective of her as you should be, but there is a line you should not be ok with her crossing in relation to your own kids.

And if your son(s) do end up having issues with your wife in the future, what, is she gonna blame you for it?

BrokenButTrying posted 5/24/2014 03:25 AM

I'm going to reply as a BC (betrayed child) here.

I agree with Jrazz.

My mum had an A. Ok, my parents separated so it was different but if my dad had taken a year off to look after himself... well, that would have been abandoning us when we needed him most.
Any child who felt that way would have a hard time reconciling those feelings as they got older.

Being abandoned by a parent because they leave is hard, but to be abandoned by a parent when they are still in the house, I just don't see any good outcome from that.

I completely get the BS need to heal, I support it 100%. But healing at the expense of the kids? No way. You dig deep, you heal and any energy you have you put on supporting your children as well as yourself. Like Ann said, even if you're just going through the motions some days, it's better than checking out on them completely.

My dad is a very complicated man. My relationship with him has been difficult but he has always been there, no matter what.

sinsof thefather posted 5/24/2014 03:29 AM

I agree with Jrazz.
Me too.

RippedSoul posted 5/24/2014 03:38 AM

When I read the post title, I was confused. Wasn't this in the Wayward Side? Yet, in my case (and the case of many BSs, I thought), it's the WS who takes time off. For the affair. And it's the BS who carries the load for the family. In my case, since my WH is an SLA and has been being treated for depression for the past 8 years, I'm still shouldering the lion's share of the work.

Have I found more "time" to be selfish? Absolutely. I got my hair cut a month after D-Day (although not again since--and it's been 18 months); I got A pedicure; once a month, now, I'll go out to lunch with a friend; I'll read a book (instead of clean) without feeling guilty; I work out more regularly; I treat myself to ice cream after every S-Anon group meeting I attend. And I spend A LOT of time reading about addiction and adultery.

There's not a right or a wrong to this. There's just perspective. After my experience, if someone said his mom/dad took a year off, I'd assume that particular parent is the one who was cheating. Interesting how that works.

[This message edited by RippedSoul at 3:38 AM, May 24th (Saturday)]

Prayingforhope posted 5/24/2014 09:53 AM

@Jrazz, you basically nailed the overall concern and it’s almost exactly what our therapist said at last month’s MC session when she told my wife “the only problem with your approach to healing is your kids aren’t being taken into account.” Like the comments to your post, at this point I’m just worried for her and I’m beginning to think my A opened up another can of worms that she needs to work through on her own (she has said similar statements like this in MC).

There are positive signs on the horizon as my wife asked to take the boys on a weekend away in a couple of weeks and she already booked a summer trip alone with them. Both of these will be huge since it will be the first significant amount of time she has spent with them since dday, so I’m happy to see that happening (and I know the boys are excited).

Either way, the kids will be a topic in our monthly MC session next week since it’s obvious the limbo thing is wearing on them. Every time I see them now they ask me if I “get to stay the night?” “When I am going to live with them again?” Etc. You start to realize regardless of where my wife wants to take our marriage, after 7 months, the kids want some sense of what their future is going to look like.

@RippedSoul, your post made me smile a bit because yes, you’ve just encountered a minority breed of wayward that has been put in limbo by their BS. She kicked me out (rightfully so) of the house 6 months ago, handed me the “keys to the kids” and has been living her life alone, refusing all contact with me ever since. She grants me 2 hours a month in a MC session (I’ve asked for weekly sessions to no avail) where we check in and see if she wants to work on the marriage. It isn’t much, but for now it’s better than D.

SisterMilkshake posted 5/24/2014 10:04 AM

Wow! I feel your BW is acting very selfishly. To totally check out, uh no. That is not okay in anyway shape or form.

It must be so confusing and unsettling for your boys. You can't stay the night, but you must be there in the morning for breakfast? How about your wife leave, since she is gone anyway, and you move back in with the boys? That would make more sense and it would be more cohesive for your boys.

I don't think she can "kick you out" and in this case it would be best for your boys for you to move back in. If your BW doesn't like it, she has choices.

[This message edited by SisterMilkshake at 10:05 AM, May 24th (Saturday)]

bionicgal posted 5/24/2014 10:20 AM

While I haven't been a perfect parent since dday, my butt was on the soccer field coaching my son's team 24 hours after I found out. (With my husband).

As a parent, you don't get the option to not show up. I may be distracted, and I may not be able to connect with my son emotionally as much as I'd like, but there is no taking time off in parenting. If one needs a week or two to go regroup somewhere that is one thing, but I don't have any patience for that kind of self-centeredness, at all.

Prayingforhope posted 5/24/2014 10:43 AM

@SisterMilkshake, I arrive at the house by 7am in the mornings to ensure I am there before they wake up. I'm with them until they go to sleep in the evening. Later, my wife then sends me a text to tell me she is 20min away and asks me to leave the house before she arrives.

But yes, your point about choices is the key one since at this stage in the game, I can't realistically not live with my kids any longer. As you can appreciate having lived through this hell, our separation was a temporary agreement to give her a space to heal. At 7 months out, the kids' needs now take priority over my BS, so if I insist on moving back in (obviously I don't want to force anything), she will need to make some decisions about where she wants our family to go.

Exhausted in OH posted 5/24/2014 11:21 AM

PFH, your posts always make me so sad, for you and for your wife. But until this one, I didn't realize how checked out of the kids lives your wife has been. I'm no psychiatrist, but I am a pediatrician. I am always hesitant to comment, because we only get your take on things, and no way of knowing what the truth is. But if half of what you say is true, your wife either needs to see past her own hurt to be a presence in her kids lives, or she should let you live with them. Has anyone talked to the kids about what is going on? There is NO WAY they are not blaming themselves on some level for what is going on. They must feel totally abandoned, by both of you. They must wonder, each and every day, why their mom doesn't want to see them. Please find a way to get her the help she needs, because in the end, it's the kids that matter.


Fireball72 posted 5/24/2014 12:31 PM

It's funny how when I commented on this a few weeks back, people said that I wasn't giving the BS a chance, that I was wrong to think that this was manipulative, etc. But this is exactly what I meant, and I STILL think it's not the right tack to be taking.

You don't just up and abandon your family, no matter how much it might hurt. It doesn't matter about PFH (no offense meant, PFH) - that's immaterial. But what DOES matter is that the kids are witnessing behavior that can only be described as confusing, and it hurts THEM in the long run. PFH either needs to live in the house on a full time basis, or not - this "rotating" stuff only puts major, confusing questions in the kids' heads. No need to act lovey-dovey, no need to be in the same room with him, no need to even speak to him - but, damn, really? Nearly 8 months of this? PFH, you must have an iron will, because if it were me, I'd have walked LONG ago. Seriously, this is NOT the way to handle the hurt.

I understand the BS's point of view here. I really do - hell, I'm a BS (or was), I'd have probably reacted with as much anger or more as Mrs. PFH. But I would NEVER do this to my kids. Ever. This is putting them through HELL.

As I said, I just find it amusing that it's only NOW that people are beginning to understand what my original post meant.

PFH, I hope that there's some resolution for you - and mainly for your KIDS - very soon. You all can't keep going on like this, the emotional damage is going to be massive if it continues.

Good luck.

[This message edited by Fireball72 at 12:33 PM, May 24th (Saturday)]

Kajem posted 5/24/2014 13:56 PM

I took a week off after DDay, I told him to leave, called in the Calvary (grandparents) and when they arrived, promptly curled up in my bed and stayed the week. I checked out here and there over the years ( never very long) and never left my kids wondering what happened to me?

My kids therapist got a glimpse into what my kids were thinking happened to destroy their family and it was much worse than an affair, and had everything to do with blaming the kids.

They thought one of us was dying and didn't want them to know!

I hope your kids are getting help.

She's gone from the house everyday? What does she do? Where does she go?

I'm sorry, it appears like she's checking out of the marriage.

dmari posted 5/24/2014 15:27 PM

Hmmmmmm ... I find this post very interesting. A different perspective. In my case and many other BS in the D/S forum, our WS's literally just up and leave which, of course, is devastating for our children. Your situation is like the opposite. ///Scratches head\\

Prayingforhope: I am relieved that the children's needs were brought up in your last session. Are you in IC? As much as you want to reconcile with your BS, it appears you are also at a point where YOU need to make a decision that would be in the best interest of the children's mental health (instead of waiting for your BS to indicate either R or D). And you may have to let go of your goal to reconcile.

I really really feel badly for your children. I pray that your children have their own therapist, too.

eta: to fix mistakes

[This message edited by dmari at 3:28 PM, May 24th (Saturday)]

Tickingtock posted 5/24/2014 18:24 PM

How much time did you spend with your kids in the 7 years you were having an A? Could your wife describe you as taking time off when you were traveling on business and having an A?

Jrazz posted 5/24/2014 19:25 PM

How much time did you spend with your kids in the 7 years you were having an A? Could your wife describe you as taking time off when you were traveling on business and having an A?

So I get how this is a valid question in and of itself, but I don't think that taking time off from the kids is a quid pro quo kind of deal. I'm not a fan of hypocrisy either, but at the end of the day putting the kids first means taking measures and assessing behavior in the here and now.

Being a BS who WANTED to run for the hills some days, I have compassion for Praying's BW. Having been a late-teenager of divorcing parents I understood their need for me-time but also thought it was completely shitty that they bailed on my sister and I when we were hurting and confused. At that point I wasn't adding up which parent had been there for me historically - I just needed them to be less self-centered and have some compassion for the kids they brought into the world.

I don't think that there's a ton of room for "well you did it first" when it comes to who spends less time with the kids. IMO.

SisterMilkshake posted 5/24/2014 19:53 PM

How much time did you spend with your kids in the 7 years you were having an A? Could your wife describe you as taking time off when you were traveling on business and having an A?
That is probably the exact guilt trip Pfh is operating from.

Branca posted 5/24/2014 22:47 PM

This post touched a nerve with me. I am a BS.

Since D-Day #1 I have been struggling. Since D-Day #2 I have been struggling even more. Struggling to live a normal life.

WH has taken over some/many of the jobs I used to do while I have been going through shock, numbness and depression and physical illness. This includes quite a bit of childcare, shopping, cooking, laundry. I feel guilty about not being as good a parent as I 'used to be' when I felt stronger and happier, before D-Days. My nerves feel shot, I am irritable and less patient with the children.

I haven't checked out of family life, but I have dropped some of my responsibilities because I have a feeling of not coping. I feel I'm not a good role model for my children. My having lower standards/expectations in terms of behaviour and even just basic stuff like house tidiness and being organised must impact on them and what they are learning from me.

I am aware that my daughter in particular (age 8 nearly 9) has picked up on changes in me. She tells me very very often how much she loves me. I wonder if this is because she's very worried about me. I feel bad about it. She doesn't know about the infidelity (I think) but I have told her that I'm having health problems which affect my moods, which is true.

In my mind I wish I was a stronger person that could deal with the infidelity without it affecting my ability to be a good parent... but I feel a failure at this. I have not been able to achieve this.

Lately I have noticed my mind appears to be struggling. My memory has become atrocious - I have forgotten appointments and other things that normally I would write in my diary or follow through on as I am/was normally a very reliable person. Now I seem to have lost my ability to cope with more than one simple thing at a time, almost like my poor brain has gone on 'safe mode' with only the basic operating system without any extra features.

Is this the emotional destruction you speak of, Prayingforhope?

Is this a person in crisis mode? Is it PTSD? I don't know. I hate being in this situation and I didn't ask for it. I want to choose to move past it and yet I feel stuck. There are better days and worse days. I love my kids and would never abandon them, and yet I have not been able to be totally present for them during my time of suffering.

Sorry if this is a kind of t/j I feel I am kind of on sick leave from family duties even though I am right here with them.

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