Monday, October 8, 2012

What about the kids?

By now you know much of my story.

I left home for a short period of time after Kris found out about my affair.

I left behind four children.

I didn't just leave without talking to them though.  I knew that they would need some sort of explanation for why I was going to be gone.

If this had happened four years ago, the kids would have been too young to really understand anything that was going on, except for the oldest, maybe.

If this had happened when they were 16 and older, that is an entirely different story.  I honestly believe that, depending on each child and what they could handle, we likely would have told them what happened.

But as it is, my children, once the birthdays are all over in 2 weeks, will be 7, 10, 11, and 12.

How do they process the fact that mommy is leaving for a while?

What do you tell your kids when your husband finds out that you've been living a lie, with another man, for the past 7 1/2 years?

So, what did we tell them?

I told them that I was having a really hard time right now.  I was struggling with life and needed to find my relationship with God.  I explained that I had gotten lost along the way and needed to figure out where I stood with God.  It wasn't a lie, or misdirection.  It was at the heart of everything.  After all, if I had been close to God to begin with, I would have been equipped to fight against temptation.  As it was, I had put my armor down years ago and was in no way prepared for the temptation of emotional intimacy with someone.

The youngest has the kind of personality where she just rolls with the punches.  You know, she didn't understand really that Kris and I were having problems.  She just knew I was going to stay with a friend for a few days.

The 10 year old, she didn't even care so much about me leaving.  She was concerned for my soul!  She is such a sweet and compassionate kid.  While I was gone, Kris told me that she prayed that I would know I was a good mommy.  Even though I had never voiced my concerns about what a horrible mother I was (what I believed at the time), she must have sensed this.  And after I came home, she asked me more than once if I had "found my relationship with God yet?"  And I would explain that I hadn't yet, but that daddy was helping me get there.

My son is probably the one that was impacted the most, emotionally.  He has always been impacted by my emotional state of mind.  When I am struggling through depression or stressful times, his behavior is worse (that's an entirely different story!)  I don't really know how he dealt with me being gone.  My husband didn't share with me any significant behavior changes while I was gone.

When I came home, it was clear to all of the kids that something had changed.  No longer were Kris and I distant, physically or emotionally.  In fact, that first week I was home, we were all over each other.  At least, as much as we could be without being inappropriate in front of the kids!

It was like a honeymoon.  Only better, because to be honest, our honeymoon was less than the beautiful and exciting experience we thought it would be.  We fought.  We cried.  We didn't know how "it" was supposed to work.  While we struggled to remain pure while dating, we did manage to save intercourse for marriage.  But is wasn't as easy as we thought it would be.  I can remember thinking "How on earth do people who aren't married figure this out?"  And "Is everybody's 'first time' this complicated?"  But that is a story for another day.  Or never.

My oldest was probably the one who understood the MOST of what was going on.  The actual truth.  Though she didn't know details, I caught her reading my other blog.  So I know she read a post that talked about pornography and how evil it is.

I asked her why she was reading my blog and she told me it was because she wanted to.  Gotta love pre-teens...

I told her that there were things that she was probably too young to understand.  She told me that she had read another post, but stopped when she saw the word "adultery."

I can remember thinking, "How much does she know?"

I told her that if she had any questions or wanted to talk about anything she read, she could just ask.  Knowing which post she left off on, I know she didn't begin reading "The Ugly Truth."  The first time adultery was even mentioned was when I wrote about the song "Does Anybody Hear her?"

So, she has picked up on bits and pieces here and there.  She knows that Kris and I had a very broken marriage and I was very lost as a Christian.  She knows that now Kris and I have a marriage that is happy and thriving, and that I have "found my relationship with God."

She's fairly easy going and I know that if she were to ask me about the affair, I could tell her and she would understand.  Maybe not why I did it, or how I got to that point, but she would understand what it meant.  She is wise beyond her years.  I am not afraid of talking to her about the affair, if she wants to know more.  So far, she hasn't asked for me.  I think she is just happy that Kris and I are happier and healthier than we have ever been.

I really love that my kids are at a point in their lives that they have been able to witness this transformation in our marriage.  They have seen me "lose my way" and seen God make himself real to me.  These are lessons that not a lot of kids get to see firsthand and I pray they take them with them into adulthood.

As the kids get older, and it seems appropriate, we will talk to them about our past.  Kris has talked to our son about his addiction to pornography and the profound impact it had on his life and our marriage.  He is teaching him to avert his eyes when there is something inappropriate on TV or on billboards.

I will never get tired of hearing my son say "Eww.  That's gross.  Why would they show that?" when a woman is dressed inappropriately!  I have told him that at some point, he will like girls in "that way" but he insists that he never will, and I am content to have him feel that way for as long as I can!

The more important lesson here is what we are teaching our children.  Regardless of what they heard or know about what happened, we are teaching them to be honest and vulnerable when they are struggling against God.

We're teaching our son to respect women and understand that it is not OK to view a woman's body that is clothed indecently, or not at all!

We are teaching our daughters that they are so much more than what they wear and that modesty is important.  We are teaching them respect for themselves and that it is not healthy for a man to look at them inappropriately.

The average age that a boy sees pornography for the first time is around 8-10.  Our son is now 11, and to my knowledge, as not seen pornography outside of the stupid soft-core stuff that is all over television and in magazines.  He was sharing with me last night about how it upsets him that one of his friends keeps talking about this new teacher they will be getting.  His friend keeps saying "She's hot!"  This really bothers my son.  He sees the disrespect already that this boy has towards this teacher and he hates it.  I am PROUD of my son for thinking this one and recognizing it, and in his own way, defending his new teacher!

We will do everything in our power to protect his eyes and his heart from becoming enslaved in the bondage of lust and pornography.  It is our responsibility as parents, and men and women of God.  I couldn't tell you what all my husband said to my son when they sat down to really talk about pornography and lust, but I know that it was effective.  And I know that had my husband not been given victory over his addiction, our son may have fallen into the same trap at a very early age.  Thank God that this transformation in us took place when it did.

Pornography?  Now THAT is a different topic altogether, that I will write on.  There is nothing I hate more in our society and world than pornography.  And the fact that it is everywhere.  But perhaps I should save that for another day!


  1. Oh Jamie, the pain you must have felt as a mother. I'm so blessed to read that you are allowing God to transform your marriage. He's the only One who can. You do your part to give Him honor and submit to Him and He'll bless you as a result of your obedience.

    1. You know, you bring up a good point. I've never written about what it was like, as a mother, to leave them. You may be reading that soon. It wasn't easy. And it left me feeling like a failure. Perhaps I should write through that. Thanks for your encouragement, and the post idea! ;)