Divorce is hard. There’s no doubt about it. It’s hard on so many levels. My girl Oprah gets it. She’s talked freely on the legacy of her parent’s divorce. It’s a frequent topic on her show and in the O Magazine.
Today is the day I exchange my children with my mother-in-law. Same day, same time, each and every week. Initially this was the hardest day of the week for me. In the beginning I could not stand that I gave the children I birthed away for 78 hours whole hours.
I couldn’t stand that I didn’t know what they were doing or how they were being cared for. I couldn’t stand that I didn’t know where they were minute to minute or who was caring for them. I hated that I didn’t have complete control of their lives.
Mostly I didn’t trust THEM with my children. I didn’t trust them to do the right thing.
Sometimes I think I made a mistake by suggesting such generous visitation. In retrospect, I don’t think he deserves to have our children so much of the time.
Most of my feelings come from my anger (see last blog) and my desire to punish him for not being a better husband.
As I stated, I’m the one who came up with the visitation arrangement in the first place. I needed to establish a reliable schedule for the children early on so the transition would not be so stressful. I also believe strongly that The Baby needed sufficient time to bond with her Daddy.
I don’t see them or talk to them while they are with their Daddy. Agree or disagree? That’s just the way it is. I simply spend the next 78 hours waiting for them to come HOME.
This is what I’ve learned to do with my time…take care of me. Whether it is work, school, therapy, bubble baths or a cocktail with my girlfriends, I’m taking care of their mother. The best gift I can give my children is a healthy, happy well-adjusted Mom.
Sometimes I feel guilty but I’ve learned to curb that emotion. We all live with enough guilt just by virtue of being someone’s daughter, sister, or friend…we don’t need to assign more to ourselves as a parent.
I recently attended a class for divorcing parents who have children. I must give kudos to the State of Montucknut. It is extremely progressive when it comes to protecting children during the divorce process. I attended this two-day class presumably to learn how to become a better co-parent than I was when I was married.
As of this writing I don’t have any direct communication with my former spouse. All discussions regarding the children go between me and my (ex) mother-in-law. She and I exchange information about doctor’s appointments, feeding and sleeping schedules, poop and all that goes with the territory of being a parent.
This is completely contrary to Dr. Gary Neuman, Oprah’s resident divorce and “children of divorce” expert. After reading through some of his tips, I feel really good about the direction I am going with my parenting skills.
First he says we should become a new kind of parent. I can tell you that I definitely feel I’m a newer , better version of who I was when I was married to He Who Cannot Be Named. I sought out and implemented new parenting techniques that have made the job of being a single mom so much easier.
Dr. Neuman urges us to Respect the Other Parent. The irony of this statement is glaring only because if there was any respect in the marriage to begin with, you probably wouldn’t be divorced. But, indeed, it is counterproductive to talk badly about your ex-spouse. As good as it makes you feel to bash your ex, don’t do it in front of your kids. It hurts their heart and makes them feel bad about themselves. Don’t forget, they are ½ your ex-spose. Also watch what you say when you’re with your friends. Remember, children are always listening.
Finally he suggests that we make the other parent count. In other words, get used to seeing him in the context of birthday parties, school events or other public gatherings. It’s bound to happen so practice being cordial now and those meetings will go much easier in the future.