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It Took Me Four Months To Tell My Kids, 'Dad And I Are Separating'
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    It was December 2016 when my now ex-husband and I got separated. We were together for 22 challenging years. Kapag nahiwalay ka sa maski sinong minahal mo at nakasama nang matagal, especially if he is the father of your four children, iyon na ang pinakamasakit at pinakamahirap na haharapin mo sa buhay. Para kang na-tsunami!

    When it happens, you have so many questions, mostly sa sarili mo, then kay God. What did I do wrong? What have I not done to save it? Wasn't I enough? And if I wasn't, wasn't his love for his children enough to make him stay? Bakit ako? Bakit kami pa of all people?

    I begged him to stay. I did not want my kids to get hurt and deal with a broken family. I stayed in the marriage because I wanted to give my children a "whole" family.

    But then, some things happen in our lives that are beyond our control. Kahit anong pilit mo, hindi uubra.

    While I could not fully comprehend what was happening to my marriage at the time, I needed to deal with a more pressing problem: how to tell my children. Unfortunately, it took me four months AFTER the separation to do it.

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    How I told my kids their dad and I was separating

    What was so difficult? I was afraid I wouldn't be able to handle their reactions. Pero hindi ko na din kayang itago kung bakit every two weeks na lang halos umuuwi ang tatay nila. Kung nasa bahay siya, sa couch na lang natutulog.

    In the end, telling my children the truth was one of the best decisions and gave me a few important lessons.

    Your children will always be your source of strength

    I started telling my son, Rocky, my youngest, who was then 16 years old. I figured maiintindihan niya kaagad kasi hiningi ko ang advice niya nung nagsisimula ang problema. He even gave me tips.

    So pinakamadaling sabihin sa kanya na, "Rocky, I tried my best, pero ayaw na ng tatay mo."

    His reaction: "Let's keep praying."

    Rocky's attitude towards the whole thing actually gave me the strength to move forward.

    Never underestimate your children's maturity and intelligence to understand what is happening

    Then, I told my third and youngest daughter Nadja, who at that time, was 17. She cried, and I asked why she was crying. Dahil ba hiwalay na nga kami ng tatay niya?

    Pero nagulat ako sa sagot niya: "Bakit hindi mo sinabi agad, Mama. Matagal na pala 'yan. Malalaki na kami. Dapat sinabi mo agad."

    Next, I told was my eldest Nix, who was then 22 years old. Gaya ni Nadja, umiyak din siya. Sabi ko, "Bakit ka umiiyak?"

    Sagot niya, "Ang tagal mo nang tinago 'yan?! Bakit? Hindi ka pala okay.  Nahihirapan ka na pala all these months. We could have been there for you if you told us."

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    And I just said, "Kasi akala ko maaayos pa."

    Their reactions made me realize when major trials happen in the family, your children, especially when they are in their teens or are above 18, may understand the situation and have the resilience to face it with you.

    But not all children will take it well

    Kids can surprise you at how well they can process and handle difficult situations. But that also means there can be feelings of anger towards the parents and depression that may surface.

    Huli kong sinabihan si Nastassia, my third daughter who was 19 years old at that time. She was emotional about the whole thing. Hindi daw siya papayag na magkahiwalay kami ng daddy niya. She asked me the "why" questions.

    She cried — really, really hard — and she did so for many weeks. Then she became angry at me, then her dad, then herself. And there were mornings, she would wake up wailing and not wanting to do anything, including going to school.

    Mabigat sa puso. Sobra. Kasi ito yung reaction na ayaw ko. Ito yung kinakatakutan ko na hindi ko kayang dalhin sa kalooban ko. Pero wala naman na ako talagang magagawa.

    Each of our children is unique. Each one handles their emotions differently. So when you decide to tell them about a significant life decision, expect that their reactions would also vary.

    Constantly check on how each child is doing

    In the weeks to come, my kids and I started praying together. We grew much closer (and stronger) as we tried to help each other cope. I knew my kids tried their best not to burden me with what they were going through. Alam nila na sobrang malungkot ako at nahihirapan sa mga pangyayari.

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    Hanggang isang araw, pagkatapos namin magdasal, sabi nila, "Mama kung saan ka masaya."

    Then no more words. Just hugs and tears.

    Hearing this from my children after all the self-blame, the guilty feeling because I could not fix my marriage that meant an incomplete family helped me accept that I was now a single mom.

    Acceptance became easier knowing I had the support of my kids. At sa lahat ng pinagdaanan ko, ito lagi ang binabalikan ko: ang mga anak pala natin, iniisip din ang happiness nating mga magulang nila. Masaya din sila, kung saan tayo masaya.

    Nancy Galang, M.A., is a single mom to four children, Nicolette, Nastassia, Nadja, and Rocky. She was a college teacher for more than 20 years at Miriam College and worked as an executive producer for ABS-CBN, TV5, and Solar TV. Currently, she is a communication and marketing consultant for one of the local government units in the country. She blogs and vlogs at nancydavidgalang.blogspot.com.

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