It’s almost bedtime for the kids so we’re sitting at the table as they are having a little snack before bed. My son Dylan looks at me and asks me to tell him something about myself that he didn’t know. The first thing that comes to mind is a huge revelation which I have not shared with him or his sister yet and I’m wondering if now is the time. Instead of getting into that long winded discussion, I tell him a silly tale about how a girl named Tina cornered me in my bedroom when I was about 6 years old and kissed me.
It’s not the first time that he’s asked me to tell him something he didn’t already know. One night during a bonfire in our backyard, Dylan asked me to tell him a secret that I had never told him before. I looked at Tamara with a look and she immediately smiled and opted to tell him and Megan the story about their brother Kyle who died the year before Dylan was born. Kyle was our first child but had a premature death at around halfway through Tamara’s pregnancy. It wasn’t a miscarriage and was in fact a fetal death. The cause of it was undetermined but we mourned the loss and moved on. Just over a year later, Dylan was born. We explained to the kids that although it was sad, in a way it was also a gift in that Dylan & Megan may not have been born had Kyle survived.
The story of Kyle is one of two major points from Tamara and I’s past that we have held onto until we thought the right time had come along. When I looked over at he that night at the bonfire, I thought she was going to tell the other story.
Prior to us getting together, we both had previous marriages. I was married for three years and ultimately divorced my first wife. Tamara was married for nine years and became a widow when her husband was killed in a car accident. We both have memories and experiences from those marriages but they aren’t something we have ever told our children. I have had conversations where my ex has been part of the topic but I’ve never gone into detail about it. My kids have even met my former brother-in-law and his kids and when asked how he knew me, Jason replied “well, we’re brothers, kind of in a weird way” and the kids never said anything about it.
It’s the only part of my own personal history that has remained somewhat secret and every now and then, I contemplate telling the kids about my former marriage. Just the other day, we watched a few of my homemade videos and when one video was finished and the list of videos came up, a few of them were from my “former life” and Dylan asked me to play one of them. Knowing it was filled with video and photos from my first marriage, I told him not today but maybe some other day.
Tamara has said she’d like to keep the illusion that there wasn’t a life before the life we had together for the kids as long as we can. Right now they see us as having always been together and as soon as they learn of our previous marriage, it might take away from that.
For me, I find myself compelled to share all aspects of my life with my kids. Eventually they will learn about my past and I wonder what kinds of questions will come out of that.