If you have kids, you know the car is where all great conversations happen. Once upon a time, my husband’s mistress unexpectedly showed up at our doorstep with a toddler in the car. As you might guess, a slightly emotional scene occurred.
The next day, as my daughters and I were heading out for ice cream, my 6 year-old asked:
Mommy, is Connie’s son Daddy’s too?
My heart stopped. I’d been dreading the day that question was asked. Inwardly I was still raw from the news myself and furious that I, not my husband, had to deal with the big question. I’d been scouring books, unsuccessfully, to learn the best way to handle the inevitable. The closest I came to an answer was that mental health experts deemed family secrets a huge, unhealthy burden for families, and that kids instinctively know the truth.
So, with all the non-judgmental feelings I could muster, I answered “Yes.” My heart was pounding, dreading the questions to follow and wondering if I’d just ruined her life.
After a moment my daughter simply grumbled, “That’s not fair, I don’t want to share any of my things with him.” My 3 year-old, excitedly kicking her car seat, chimed in “Me too!”
I couldn’t have agreed more.
Sometimes, life throws us curves bigger than we could ever dream up on our own. I remember when I first tearfully told my hairstylist the “baby news” she gasped, “Oh, my God, that’s a woman’s worst nightmare.” It was mine, second only to my marathon journey through the family law system.
Affairs happen. I knew that. But, how do you move on when your husband and his mistress (a woman who’s been to your kid’s soccer games and a guest in your home) present you with the reality of a love child?
There’s a whole new world to consider. The mistress told me she couldn’t wait to see my daughters excitement when they met their new baby brother. When I pointed out my little ones still thought babies came by stork and only to mommy and daddy she went silent.
I was shocked by how painful it was to be cheated on. I cried for a year straight about how the baby had destroyed the idyllic family I’d worked so hard to create. Movies glamorize affairs and leave us sobbing for the poor married one who must abandon his/her lover to return to the drudgery of married life.
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