Before I dive into my single mom months, I wanted to share a part of my story that a lot of people (myself included) tend to minimize when thinking about divorce.

Married people share everything, right? They share space, friends, belongings, family, hobbies, and everything in between. Something I wasn’t expecting when getting divorced is that it somehow introduces a different kind of sharing. What’s mine? What’s yours? What’s ours? And, I don’t want to share that! We learn to share in preschool, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally. So, here are the things that I had to learn to share in a whole new way.

The Kids: This is by far the most important, but at the same time, the easiest thing to share. I know without any doubt, that my kids need their dad. Not only do they need him, but they are physically/mentally/emotionally HALF of him. DNA does not lie. I would be doing my children, the two people in my universe who mean more to me than life itself, a great disservice if I selfishly thought that their relationship with me was more important than their relationship with their Dad. So, “sharing” the kids, was never an issue for me.

Interestingly enough, I got some backlash for being generous with sharing the kids so readily.  I must be “lazy” or I must “really want a break” if I am so encouraging of my Ex having an equal custody share. Being ok with 50/50 or 60/40 had got to be a selfish decision that I was making so I could date and party. How could I ever want less than 24/7 with my kids? Well, for all of those moms who think that they are the only important parent in their kids’ lives… WAKE UP. Unless Dad poses an actual (real, not imagined) threat to the kids, moms with the infamous “golden uterus,” are not acting in their child’s best interest. (The Golden Uterus is a real thing, by the way. It is baffling; google it.)

Sure, I miss my kids when they are with their Dad, but I know that they are happy and safe. And since I’m being honest, having a few evenings a week, and every other weekend to myself, is relaxing. And sometimes – I am lazy! The funny thing is that when I talk to my friends who are married with kids and I tell them about what I did over my kid-free weekend, I see them start to daydream about what they would do with some free time. They say, “If I could just have ONE night!” Yes, it is nice, but I don’t share them so that I can have a “break.” I share the kids because I know it’s what’s best for them, and can you blame me for enjoying my “me” time when they are with their Dad?

{A quick interjection here – I got married after having my son, W. I thought that getting married was the right thing to do and that we could make it work. I tried, and we tried for YEARS to keep it together. I do not think that every married couple that has problems, or experiences bumps in the road, should end their marriage. Divorce is not cool. It happens, but it seriously sucks. There are couples who may face issues but with work, are able to persevere. So, although a few kid-free days per week sounds alluring, PLEASE don’t make any permanent decisions based on wanting a break or some alone time! Communication is key.}

Anyway, where were we? Oh, right… sharing.

The House: Obviously, we can’t continue to share the house. When planning out my post-divorce steps I read a lot about what was best for the kids in terms of the new living situation. I came across something called “bird-nesting.” Bird-nesting is when the parents rent or buy another smaller home, and take turns spending time with the kids in the family home while the other parent stays in the second home on their kid-free days. This way, the kids never have to leave the home that they are accustomed to living in. This is ideal for the kids, and I was actually considering it for a moment, but when thinking it through, it just felt yucky and complicated. Sharing a bedroom, sharing a bathroom, and even sharing common spaces seemed weird. Arriving at “home” to an ex-spouse’s dishes in the sink was not something that I could bring myself to do. Why create an opportunity for conflict when there wasn’t really conflict to begin with?

The next best option was one of us staying in the house so that the kids didn’t have to adjust to two new homes. Well, who should get the house? This is where another huge wave of guilt hit me like a ton of bricks. I let it consume me throughout most of the divorce process. I felt that it was ultimately my decision to split up, and I just couldn’t imagine pouring more salt in his wound. I had been thinking about divorce for years, and it had only become a reality for him over those past few months. I was already taking away his ability to have a “normal” family, and I didn’t want to take away anything else. When we discussed what we were going to do with the house, I did what I felt I had to do. I knew that I would be ok with or without it, and looking back, I know I made the best decision for our family. It was hard letting go of that house though… we had so many sweet memories with the kids there. All of my possessions and things that I had collected over the years felt like they belonged in that house. But stuff can be moved, right?

The Stuff:  OMG – you can collect a lot of “stuff” in 9 years. The lines so easily get blurred between what is yours and what’s theirs. And how about kid stuff? This part can get messy. I have seen a few MSA’s (Marriage Settlement Agreements) with things as insignificant as throw pillows listed out in them. I honestly just wanted to move out and move on. I wanted to get out of his house. Being petty over “stuff” was just not for me, so I packed up in one weekend. I took the things that were clearly mine (clothes, cosmetics, my childhood stuff, etc) and asked him about a few things that I had bought pretty recently that I knew he wasn’t attached to; that instant pot was coming with me! Unless he wanted it… because I was not about to fight for a pressure cooker.

Not all of it was easy though. I remember stepping into the kids’ rooms and actually crying because I knew that taking things out of their rooms wouldn’t be fair to them. Those rooms were their rooms, even if I didn’t live there anymore. I imagined W walking into his room, a familiar, safe place, and feeling like things were missing. I knew that they were going to have to adjust at my new place no matter what, so it was very important to me that their rooms at the house that they had spent the last 3 years in, stayed intact. I walked out of those rooms with empty hands, and a heavy heart, but most importantly, peace of mind. Our kids would sleep soundly in their bedrooms on “Daddy Days” with all of their familiar belongings in place.

The Family: I find myself feeling extremely lucky when I think about my Ex’s family, even to this day. The support I received from his family was more than I ever thought possible. His parents, his siblings, his cousins, family friends, friends, etc. So many people and I honestly had no idea what they were going to do with me after they learned that we were splitting.  When we told them, the reaction was mixed. I got sympathy from some, support from others, and silence from a few. But what was most shocking, was that fact that no one was outwardly angry. Maybe some people “gently” chose sides, but there wasn’t any drama. No arguments, no name calling (that I know of) and no yelling. I could feel their sadness, and I think that was actually harder for me to deal with than yelling. Typically, I can check out if people yell or are being dramatic… but have you felt your loved ones’ sadness? Ugh. It was rough.

After the initial shock wore off, I found myself missing them daily. We would see each other at the kids’ activities and everyone was very civil. I knew I would have to give them time and respect their process. Once again, I had years to work through these feelings, but everyone else was a bit blind-sided. After months went by, the tension and anxiety lessened. It definitely wasn’t the same as it had been in the past, and at that point, I understood that family isn’t something that you can fully share after divorce. I have stayed in touch with a few of his family members and family friends of his, and within the last three or four months, things have actually been as close to perfect as I could have ever hoped. Because of the kids, we see each other pretty frequently. Being around them feels like home and sometimes I forget that they aren’t mine anymore. I have to say that I extremely grateful that my kids get to experience his family’s love and support throughout their lives.

Creek Monkey?? This is the most insignificant but also something that I totally didn’t think about before splitting. We shared so many places. We had our spots. And now, who got “our” spots? What about Creek Monkey? So many happy memories at that place. Delicious ciders, outdoor lighting, familiar faces, and let’s not forget about those chicken strips… My Ex and I spent a ton of time there over the years. Sometimes with the kids and sometimes without. And now, who got dibs?

{For those of you who have never been to Creek Monkey and are planning on going because I made it sound like a magical place, please note, it is actually super average, so don’t expect too much! It was the memories that made it so special for me, not the 5-star cuisine.}

Although my Ex and I were pretty low conflict, for some reason, deciding who got “custody” of Creek Monkey stirred up a fair amount of hurt feelings. I suggested that we share it and possibly set a schedule of his days and my days, but he wanted it to be exclusively his. I remember him saying at one point, “You are fancy, can’t you hang out somewhere in Lafayette instead?” It made me smile because I am so not fancy, but that is a compliment, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ After some back and forth, I realized that it was just a place, and I knew it wouldn’t be forever, so I backed down. I am happy to report that we now have a 50/50 Creek Monkey Custody Share (only kind of joking)!! Woohoo!

So, as this post about sharing comes to an end, I can look back and smile at our ability to share, even things as trivial as chicken strips. Stay tuned for my next post about single mom life!

M

One thought on “Sharing is caring…

  1. Megan.
    You are and always have been such an amazing young lady. Aunt Debbie and I are so proud of you and the way you have so maturely and proactively handled this diversity in your life. You know that Aunt Deb and I are all about marriage and working things out, and we know how hard you tried to work it out. This blog is amazing and so are you!!!

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