When I was married, I would crave time alone away from my children to run errands, have a quiet dinner, or use even the bathroom. When we divorced, we agreed to split the custody of our two young children.
I definitely did not expect to feel ashamed to go into the grocery store at 6pm and see struggling moms with cranky kids.
We couldn’t share a knowing empathetic look, me without even a wedding ring, much less a whining child. These moms do not seek out my eye-contact for support. I wanted to say aloud, “I am a mom too! I also have food crumbs lining my purse. I AM ONE OF YOUR KIND!” I no longer belonged in this moment. Am I still a mom if my children can’t be with me today?
Split Custody Takes Adjusting
It’s not just the children who need time to get used to this new normal. Mom and Dad have different lives now too. And there are ah-ha moments that you can pay attention to and grow as an individual. Because divorce isn’t the end of you. In fact, it is the beginning of a new version of you. That ah-ha took a while. At first, when my children weren’t with me, I didn’t know what to do with myself or more importantly, how I viewed myself. It’s strange at first when your noisy hustle and bustle at 6pm is quiet because your children are not home. I was very unhappy to be away from my children. I did not know what to do without them.
I was once asked me, “Do you ever get used to the silence? ” Yes, you do.
Do not get me wrong, today I am not happy to be away from them. But you find a new way to live in their absence. You begin to run your life differently when you split custody. You look at your life with a different set of decision and perspective filters.
Split custody gives us both a break.
Ah-ha! Splitting custody gives us a chance to breathe for a minute. It gives us alone time that we never would have before. I rarely need to take my kids to the grocery store. I go when they are with their dad. I also try to reserve all the major cleaning when they are at his house too. I look at my week and anticipate what I can do when they are with their dad, such as a social event or plan for a project. Ah-ha, split custody is helping me be more organized!
It forced me to fill my free time with experiences that are not always defined by my children. I needed to redefine the essence that is Julie. I made new friends not centered around play-dates. Ah-ha, I could have friends that were a different stages of their lives. I attended more evening networking. I get coffee with friends on a Sunday morning. It gave me the opportunity to be more than a willing co-parent.