Ewwww. The custody arrangement.
When you have bambinos, that’s a tough one, particularly in the beginning of your divorce discussions.
When you’re used to having things be “normal” and all of a sudden they absolutely have to be different, it bites. You simply don’t have a choice.
I will never claim that it was easy for me. It was Devon who had to move out. Honestly, I made him move out, for reasons that I won’t get into entirely here, but let’s just say it was a boundary I had to uphold once I spoke it into existence. It was either this thing that you must do, Devon, or you have to move out. Looking back now, I did it out of spite, but I don’t regret it entirely. It was what it was. It was a bitter time for me, and while I’d like to blame him for making the choice, it really was me who made the final decision.
It really sucked. It especially sucked for him. Besides the tough reality for Devon, it was really rough on the kids. Man, it’s difficult to even think about it now. I really put Devon through some shtuff.
What it afforded me, though, was the gradual time it took to get used to not having my kids every day. I cried when they had their first overnight at his house. I cried many times after that. I probably drank too much wine, too, but that’s how I handled it. (Hopefully you won’t handle it that way. I certainly don’t recommend it.)
By the time our divorce was final, we had come to the arrangement that we’d have the kids one week off/one week on.
If I could make one recommendation about your final paperwork, it would be to do every other week if your living arrangements and proximity allow for that.
In fact, I just had a conversation with a good friend of mine this past holiday weekend at an awesome music festival about that very thing. Speaking as a family law attorney, which he is, he said that he almost always recommends that arrangement to his clients. He also said that generally, they balk at it.
I understand why people do resist it. There’s usually one parent who can’t bear the thought of having to spend one minute away from their children. I mean, it’s tough and I get it. Often, there’s bitterness involved. Like I said, things used to be “normal”, but now the parents are forced to split the kids up for balanced time with the other parent. “It just isn’t fair to them,” some might say. But is divorce or your situation fair in the first place? It probably doesn’t feel that way.
I say, “Make the most of it.” Make a new normal.
The point is that this past week I got to go to an awesome music festival, enjoy myself, meet new and interesting people, have zero responsibility except to the group of people I camped with (and even that was marginal)… all because of our one week on/one week off custody arrangement.
During my weeks off, I get to enjoy myself. Find myself. Have a chance at a new life as a single woman.
Then I get to come home if I take a trip, like this past holiday. I’m so ready to see my kids at that point and spend time with them that I nearly pee my panties with excitement.
Picture the single mom or single dad who has to do everything all by themselves. THAT is a tough spot to be in. I know several of them and I am very blessed. Deadbeat parents are the worst. I happen know some single moms or dads who would cut off their right pinky toe just to have a break and have the other parent involved in their child’s life.
Let me list all of the trade offs of getting to have a week by myself.
1. I’ve been allowed the freedom to travel. I’ve been to Washington, L.A., Tennessee, beautiful backcountry camping trips, San Francisco, wine country, and tons of concerts. It was much tougher to do those things when I was married with kids every day.
2. I was able to get through surgeries, cancer treatments, and chemotherapy recovery without having to worry about the daily ins and outs of taking care of three kids.
3. I’ve been able to go to school to get my Masters in Secondary Education without having much trouble with childcare.
4. After a week of running children willy-nilly all over town to three different schools, sporting events, play dates, cooking meals, cleaning up after kids, getting up extra early to get things done… I get tired. By the end of the week, I’m ready for a break and I’m not bitter about having to keep doing those monotonous things all over again the next week. I get to do what I want to do.
Shall I go on?
The festival I went to this last week was full of children having fun with their parents and getting their hippy on. Were there moments I was a bit sad about not being there with my own kids, and even Devon a time or two? Definitely. My camp mates would have really enjoyed my kids and Devon would have kept that campsite clean and super organized. Heck, maybe he would have even typed up daily schedules for everyone and would have made everyone’s life simpler. He would have been amazing there.
But you know, I enjoyed getting to walk around, feeling good about my singleness, dancing for joy to good music and thinking about how blessed I really am. I knew my kids were in good hands and that the second I got home, I’d get to smother them with affection, cook a meal for them, run them to sports camps, and tuck them in at night… and I couldn’t wait.
I’ll be ready for another break after the week is up, though. Maybe I’ll get my hippy on next week, too. Who’s down?
Peace, Love, and Happiness- Emily
P.S. I would like to add that if it weren’t for Felipe, the kids’ stepdad, both Devon and I would be in a pickle. Thanks for all that you do.
Questions to answer in the comments below:
1. If you are already divorced, what has been your experience with your custody arrangement? Why did you choose to do your arrangement the way that you did?
2. If you don’t have a custody arrangement yet, what are your hang-ups? What do you want your arrangement to be?
3. If you aren’t already divorced, how do you plan on starting a new single life, if you can even think about that yet?