Saw this post from a buddy of mine on Facebook and it just made my heart break for him and, mostly, for his girl:
I wish I could say that I remember my ex and I having that conversation with our children, where we sat down and together told them the new state of the world, but that’s not quite how it transpired. We talked about how we’d break it to the kids and we both knew that the best practice was absolutely to have both parents present for the conversation but when my oldest asked Mom what was going on between the two of us, she simply told them that we were getting a divorce and I was moving out. And me? I wasn’t even home at the time of the conversation.
When I did finally see my children later that day, they were convinced that like so many of their friends, “moving out” meant “moving away” and that they basically were having me walk out of their lives. They were frightened and upset and it took weeks for me to convince them that I was still going to remain a big part of their lives.
Quite the opposite of their fears, we had joint custody from the very beginning, though that didn’t always go smoothly.
In fact, there was a period of 4-5 months in the early days when they were having problems switching during school days w/ homework, etc so very reluctantly I agreed for them to spend 5 days/week with Mom in the former family home, and Fri & Sat with me in the new place. I didn’t like that, nor did they: as soon as we could stabilize things we switched back to our schedule of them being with me Wed-Sun of just about every week and the other days with Mom.
As a note to single parents with younger kids, you’ll be surprised how much that all changes once children can drive! My oldest seems to have a schedule all her own and I’m never surprised to see her car in my driveway on a day she’s supposed to be with her Mom.
Still, we all go into marriage with our dreams of bungalows on the beach, a happy dog and a white picket fence, and too darn many of us are having to have this very conversation with our children, that their dreams of familial stability are being tossed out the window, with them either bouncing between houses, having parents bounce in and out of the family house (an arrangement I quite frankly just don’t understand) or having a parent simply walk off into the sunset. All three situations suck. But being in a bad relationship, trying to nurture and parent children while you’re off-kilter and not getting the spousal support you need to succeed stinks too.
Turns out that not only is parenting a whole heck of a lotta work, but relationships are too, and marriages when there are children involved? That’s 10x harder than any other configuration. No wonder we have a hard time. But still, I can’t help look at my parent’s generation where there was a tiny percentage of divorce and every single one of my friends and classmates in high school were living with their bio mom & bio dad in the same house versus what we have now and wonder where things went wrong.
But that’s all academic. For my friend, and for his little girl, the world just became a very, very different place. And my heart breaks for them both.
Can’t imagine that moment. But the reality is this … even the best marriages are an awful lot of work. Take too long a break from giving it your all, and you could be in trouble…
regarding your second-to-last paragraph: I grew up in my grandparents’ home. They were of a generation where divorce was just not an option. I watched them live a horrible dance of silence and fear, where one of them would leave the room when the other entered, except for our awkward nightly family dinners.
My ex and I decided we would rather our kids live in a situation where they have two happy, dedicated co-parents who were still both invested in their lives (albeit in separate houses) than to have them watch two unhappy roommates tiptoe around them for the rest of their childhood. It’s been almost two years since we split up, and we were right.