real life

"Mum, I need to tell you something about Dad..."

I’m sitting up in bed, my hands trembling with anxiety.

I’m about to drive over to my mother’s house and initiate one of the hardest conversations of our lives – much harder than when Dad left. Harder than when she had to sell the house. Harder than anything, really.

I wish I didn’t have to do this. I so desperately wish this wasn’t a conversation I had to have with my own mum. But here we are. Here I am – with shaky hands and a racing mind that just won’t slow down.

What am I going to say?

 What am I going to say? (Image: iStock)

My parents split up seven months ago, but memories of our family being intact are fading. Actually, any recollection of my parents talking to each other feels like a lifetime ago. I consider it a completely different life, if I'm honest.

Things seemed perfect until the second Dad came down the stairs, sat me, my brother, and mum down to announce he was leaving us all. Just like that.

No reason in particular, he said coolly. Just general melancholy. A restlessness. A desire for exploration and new beginnings. He was tired of this life. He would like a new one, pretty please.

ADVERTISEMENT

My mother was - and still is - heartbroken. With those emotionless words, her gentle heart shattered into pieces; 28 years of her life had, at best, been misleading, at worst it had been an utter facade.

The split was expectedly bitter, and my parents don't speak anymore. Communication runs through my brother and I only. They can't even keep emails civil.

In the weeks and months since separating, Mum hasn't so much as looked at another man. How could she? Her heart belongs to Dad. It's much too soon to move on, she says, she won't ever be capable of love again.

Within three weeks of leaving, Dad was seeing another woman.

It was casual, he told us (gross). Just a fling with a much younger lady.

I swear, my father is a walking, talking cliche.

That "fling" has not ended after six months. In fact, it's seen Dad go away on a number of holidays. It's seen him meet her little kids. And now, this Monday night, he's requested his "girlfriend" meet his children.

After six months of dodging around the truth with mum, I'm meeting my father's girlfriend. And I need to tell my darling mother the truth - that Dad's well and truly moved on.

I know I am going to be causing her so much pain. I know I will be driving a knife into her heart. I know there will be tears of frustrating and mourning. But the thought of meeting this woman behind Mum's back? That's a betrayal I couldn't bear to live with.

I wish I wasn't the one who had to tell her this. It feels invasive. It feels backward. It feels desperately wrong.

I don't want to tell Mum what I'm about to tell her, but I have no other choice.

And if I ever find myself separated from the future father of my future children? I will make sure we can at least be in the same room as each other - no matter what happens.

Because this is a conversation no child should have to initiate.