Knowing Our Needs Doing Divorce blog

My daughters hurt my feelings.  They didn’t mean to and I am sure they were not aware of their infraction.  But I was feeling sad and put out all the same.  They were at their dad’s house when my newly published book had arrived.  I excitedly opened the box and pulled out the neat stack of hardbound books.  I hugged one to my chest and sighed with pent-up cheer.  The celebration would be a day delayed.

This goal was years in the making and one of my proudest accomplishments.  I was bursting.  Of course I shared the news with my close friends, colleagues, and family – but I couldn’t wait to share this moment with my daughters.  They had, after all, inspired nearly every sentence of my new book.

The next day, we finally all got home from school, work, and activities.

“Look (!!!)” I semi-squealed, pulling the book from the box.  “Cool,” my youngest replied.  “Oh wow Mom, that’s great.”  My other daughter said.  Neither held the book, looked at the book, or wanted to read from the book.  They went on unpacking their backpacks and moving on to chores and homework.

Wait, what?  What just happened?  To say I was deflated would be a massive understatement.  I started to sulk.  However, I am a master at doing so passive/aggressively so they didn’t even notice.  Then I became unsure.  Maybe this wasn’t that neat.  Maybe I was expecting too much.  Maybe this was yet another example of my ego riding high and getting in my way.  I was quiet and kept to myself for the remainder of the evening.  They didn’t seem to mind.

The next night I brought it up.  I wish I could report that we were like a picture out of a Norman Rockwell painting sitting at the dinner table as a happy family when I calmly told them they had hurt my feelings.  But I can’t.  Instead I just blurted it out in frustration.

“You hurt my feelings yesterday.  I was really excited to share this accomplishment with you.  You are the people I want to have these moments with.  I had to wait a whole day and the night it happened I was by myself and I just couldn’t wait until you got home.”

They looked at me – the understanding slowly sinking in.  “I’m sorry Mom” came in unison.

“Your opinions matter to me.  It is important to me that you are proud of me.  When there are big things that happen in my life, it is you I most want to share it with.”  They understood.

The next day, after work, I found the post it note and my favorite comfort food waiting for me.  My girls come to my house after school, but had been picked up to go to their dad’s before I came home.  In that time and space my daughter met my needs.

And so this became yet another silver lining of divorce – I have to ask my daughters for what I need.  Their dad doesn’t nudge them in the right direction, reminding them to say nice things to their mom, or do it for them.  I have to be clear.  I have to talk about it.  I have to avoid being passive/aggressive and say what I need.  I am grateful for this lesson because not only am I practicing the skill of speaking aloud my needs, but modeling it for them as well.  And as you can see, they know how to sweetly meet my needs.

Angela Dunne

CategoryDoing Divorce
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