One of the greatest problems resulting from divorce (assuming there are children involved) is how it impacts our relationships with our children. We leave one relationship because it is not making us happy, and usually we are faced with forming completely new relationships with our children. Believe me, the children did not ask for any of this, so that is what makes it the hardest.
The greatest paradox of sharing children once you’re divorced is not having them all the time. Typically as parents our children are with us seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year. Not so once we are sharing custody. We are presented with something that most parents never have, at least until their youngest leaves for college, and that is free time. We are also left with the big void of not knowing what is going on when they are with their other parent. Are they okay? Are they not okay? Are they more than okay? Which answer would make us the happiest? Be honest now.
My children just left my boyfriend and I after spending two weeks with us. It was great having them, but I have to admit that spending the last two nights alone with my boyfriend was heavenly too. I love him so much, and there is an ease when we are alone together that is never there when children are present. Does this make me a bad mother? Of course not. It makes me someone who can adapt to different scenarios and make the most of them.
I missed my children as soon as I put them on the Jitney on Monday afternoon, and I will miss them more with each passing day that they spend with their dad and stepmom. At the same time though, my boyfriend and I are relaxing and doing things together that we find more difficult to do when they’re with us. And that is the great paradox folks.
I’m reading a memoir about a woman whose husband left her when her boys were two and four years old. It is called “A Year and Six Seconds” and it is by Isabel Gillies. Last night, as I was reading this book, it began to raise a lot of memories for me from when I first got divorced. My children were six and eight. It was not easy. I remember what it was like juggling two little ones by myself every weekend, on airplanes and during long vacations, every evening after work. It was exhausting, and also lonely in a strange way. I was never actually lonely because I was with my children, but there is a certain loneliness that comes from being with young children and not adults… a lack of adult stimulation and especially companionship. And then there were the long, long days and nights when they were with their father. When was the last time I had to make plans for a Saturday night or else stay home alone?
If you are divorced with children you will learn (hopefully) to cherish the time when your children are away. Perhaps it can even make the time you spend together all that much more special.
I will tell you this. I feel very lucky to have found the man of my dreams while I was still raising two children. It is not easy for a new partner to come into the fold of someone else’s family — not easy for the new partner, not easy for the children, and not easy for the parent. Having the time alone with him while my children are with their father and his wife was critical in enabling us to develop a true and deep love and intimacy. This alone time is also equally important for couples with children who stay together. It can’t always be about the children and the family unit. Adults need time alone together to rekindle the flame, discuss topics other than their children, remind themselves of what they fell in love with in the first place.
So… children… I miss you terribly. Boyfriend… I am enjoying you immensely. I love all three of you like crazy!