It’s Love-Hate Monday. And You Might Just Love to Hate This Post…

Be forewarned: This post is going to be quite the rant, I can feel it already. And yet, it’ll probably be one of the most “real” snapshots of a moment of my life that you’ll ever read.

So if you hate it, please accept my apologies in advance, as today I happen to be in a dark place. The humor will return once the return of my children is more imminent.

You see, it’s Monday. A “once-a-month-Monday,” to be exact – the Monday when my kids leave my home for two weeks. Fourteen days. Three hundred thirty-six hours. Half a month.

Far too long.

This morning as I pulled away from my daughter’s school, fighting back my own tears after saying goodbye to her beautiful, tear-streaked face, I thought to myself, “This SUCKS ASS.”

But you know what? We’re not supposed to say that, are we?

We single mommies who share custody aren’t supposed to admit that it sucks. We are supposed to keep our heads high, to be emotionally ambivalent, to show our kids our strength. We’re not supposed to cry, to be saddened at the prospect of another half of our children’s lives – gone, without us being privy to a single moment.

We’re not supposed to be sad.

Fuck that. I’m calling bullshit on the “supposed to’s” and owning my anger and sadness.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an insecure hot mess about many things in life. I’m jaded. Most days I feel ugly and full of self-doubt. I fear my own shadow in relationships. Actually, I fear bricks in relationships.

But one thing about which I have few insecurities: my family. I am a fierce, funny, fun-loving mom who gives her kids opportunities, perspective, life lessons, amazing experiences. We talk, we laugh, we share – I have been blessed beyond measure with two exceptional children and the knowledge that I am a very good mom.

Yet these children are caught in a never-ending tug of war. My ex chose to leave me, which is perfectly his choice as a human being wielding free will – but a consequence of that choice was the destruction of a life of stability for our children.

Which brings me to my list of shit I HATE today.

  1. I fucking hate that I live in a “no-fault” state in which family court judges almost always award 50-50 joint physical custody unless one parent is a meth addict or a street walker. A legal system that prescribes joint physical custody as the rule rather than the exception is sheer “split-the-baby-in-half” fucktardery, a naive one-size-fits-all perspective that dictates a child’s best interest always is served when he or she is uprooted weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or whatever other crazy schedule best serves the parents. Because make no mistake: This is best for the parents…not for the children. Who among us can even wrap their minds around the idea of packing up your stuff and moving to a new home every other whatever? How can children thrive when they are in a constant state of turmoil? I am continually amazed at how well my children seem to be doing at the moment, yet I’m also continually aware of the future potential ramifications of this relentless upheaval in their lives.
  2. I fucking hate the Sunday before my “once-a-month-Monday,” because my children’s awareness of the looming custody change on the horizon devolves into a day of emotional outbursts and moodiness.
  3. I fucking hate notes like these:
  4. I fucking hate that my children tell their father that they are sad – and that he turns it into “You don’t have to be sad for your mom – she’ll be ok.” Guess what? They’re sad for THEM. And I am ok — except for the pain I feel on behalf of my hurting children.
  5. I fucking hate that I desperately want my children to be with me – yet based on the words and actions of “the others,” they don’t feel the same. And I fucking hate that both of my children know that.
  6. I fucking hate the recent article in Redbook Magazine that lauds the spirit of “single moms” and features an essay by a mom who laments, “It’s hard to let go of your kids when you share custody” – yet the essay reveals her kids are only gone “most” weekends. Try two weeks of every month on for size, lady. Of course I feel bad for all parents who lose time with their children, but this essay made me further aware of the craziness of my own custody arrangement.
  7. I fucking hate that women coping with post-divorce issues are labeled as “bitter” because they feel anger or sadness. Guess what? I couldn’t care less about my ex; but yes, I am sad on behalf of my kids, who never asked to be in this situation.
  8. I fucking hate empty bedrooms.
  9. I fucking hate that the man who proposed to me, was my best friend for 13 years and willingly started a family with me now can’t even show a modicum of respect for me – the woman who ushered his two children into the world through her own body. I fucking hate that he subscribes to this crazy notion of “parallel parenting,” which only serves to put the children in the middle of two totally different parenting philosophies and makes them responsible for adjusting to each.
  10. I fucking hate the high road.
  11. I fucking hate the “two weeks off” of “two weeks on/two weeks off.”

So yes, you’re right, this was supposed to be “Love-Hate Monday.” I’m on it.

Here’s what I love:

  1. I love-love-LOVE that my skin got slightly sunburned Saturday after spending a day watching my daughter play soccer and my son play baseball. The constant feeling of warmth radiating from my skin — the slight sting every time something brushes against it — reminds me of a great weekend spent outdoors with my two beautiful children and my crazy-cute boyfriend.
  2. I love-love-LOVE that my daughter brings me a stuffed animal every time before she leaves for her two weeks, asking me to take care of it while she’s gone. I also love-love-LOVE that I’m not sure if she does it to give me something to “mother” — or to give her the knowledge that I’m caring for something in her place and thinking of her. Regardless of her motivation, the symbol is beautiful. And now I’d like you to make the acquaintance of this month’s charge — please meet Squawky:
  3. I love-love-LOVE that my son routinely leaves stuff behind – a text book, a pair of cleats, an essential piece of a science fair project – because that affords me the opportunity to see him when I drop it off (if only for a few moments).
  4. I love-love-LOVE that my daughter and I paint our toe nails to match the day before she leaves, and that she tells me “When I miss you, I’ll look at my toes and think of you.”
  5. I love-love-LOVE baseball. I’m actually not a fan of the sport, and to be honest I fucking hate that spring ball in Reno is usually accompanied by gale-force winds, snow, sleet, etc. But I love the fact that three days a week during our two weeks apart, I have the opportunity to watch my son enjoy his favorite sport.
  6.  I love-love-LOVE notes like these:
  7. I love-love-LOVE every one of these freckles:
  8. I love-love-LOVE the memory of unbridled joy captured on my iPhone from the week before.
  9. I love-love-LOVE that since you started reading this post, the countdown on my iPhone that reminds me how long until my kids are safe and happy and in my home again has reduced by about 5 minutes, 38 seconds. And counting.
  10. I love-love-LOVE that Boyfriend Brett leaves me messages on random food.
  11. I love-love-LOVE that readers have shared their similar feelings, stories and perspectives, which helps all of us feel less alone and more “normal.” I love reading your comments, feeling your support and seeing you support each other.
  12. I love-love-LOVE the “two weeks on” of “two weeks on/two weeks off.”

So now, your turn:

  1. Love-love-LOVE the concept of 50-50 joint physical custody – or fucking hate it? I promise not to be offended either way, as I’m simply curious about your perspective.
  2. If you share custody with an ex — or have in the past — what are/were a few of your loves and hates of your arrangement?
  3. If you’re lucky enough not to share custody with an ex – either because you’re not divorced or don’t have kids – what do you love/hate about today?

And hey: Thank you so much for hanging with me today, gang. I wish you all a moment or two of freckles and unbridled joy in the week ahead — or whatever brings you unparalleled bliss…


About Mikalee Byerman

How can a sometimes bitter, definitely jaded, no longer trusting blindsided ex-wife still believe in happy endings? (not that kind of happy endings...sheesh, people...) By channeling her scary internal dialogue through a controversial blog/future book, swearing like a drunken sailor and spending all her spare time focused on helping others people heal. Oh, and wine...lots of good, red wine.
This entry was posted in Mikalee Byerman, My bat-shit crazy divorce, My custodial nightmare and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

148 Responses to It’s Love-Hate Monday. And You Might Just Love to Hate This Post…

  1. Shady says:

    I thought I had stayed married far too long because I could not bear the thought of not having my child with me every day. Now that he is an adult and I got the nerve to leave the marriage, I find it doesn’t matter. I still hate that he has to split holidays and someday, my grandkids will do the same. I hate that me and his Dad could not get our sh** together and remain a family for him. I wish I didn’t spend time waiting, I wish I’d spent that time making it work.

  2. I feel your pain… from a bloke perspective mind. :-)

  3. Debra Colby-Conklin says:

    Just starting down this road…again. Sitting alone typing this knowing he won’t be home tonight is a killer.

    I love the pics of your son laughing…this is what I look forward to as well !

  4. royminor says:

    I think I love the IDEA of a 50/50 arrangement, currently being the 15 in a 85/15 situation. But I know in reality it never works to the advantage of the kids– the best thing for them is to be in one disfunctional home most of the time and have a sort of weekend house or summer place where they go to be spend time with the other parent they will hate and curse as teenagers.
    Loves of my arrangement are how much I truly appreciate the time I do get to spend with my kids no matter how little it may be. Hates include most other things about it. Ditto on the hating empty bedrooms!
    Loved reading this blog, I think it may have helped me see things from my ex’s side of our situation at times… She’s still wrong and stupid, of course, but you helped to humanize her evil. :)

  5. Kudos on the honesty!

  6. Brandi says:

    Mikalee, you know I don’t make it online all that often, but I’m so glad I stopped by today. Your post is incredible — had me laughing and tearing up, too. You are amazing!

  7. Maggie O'C says:

    Wow, this is the first post of yours that I have read so I have some homework! I found you on Brigitte’s blog.
    My ex and I have 50/50 custody and it seems to be fine. It helps that we are good friends and have each others backs. The girls were to be with him last night and tonight (every Weds and Thurs) but he has work stuff so they stay with me. We only live a couple of miles from each other. We both have the “it will all come out in the wash” mentality so there’s no score keeping. We are very lucky. Good friends that weren’t supposed to get married but have great kids. All family events include my ex, his parents, my boyfriend, his daughter, my siblings, so on and so forth.
    Before I sound too Sunshine Family (too late!) plenty of shit in life and about my ex pisses me off or we’d still be married.

    Great post!

  8. alastor993 says:

    Okay… It’s Friday… but I hate today because my fiance broke off our relationship this morning and I love my students because they distract me from the enormous pain I feel inside….
    Thank you for your blog, I haven’t come by in a while, but I suspect that will change now…

  9. Cafe says:

    Wow, I really loved this post. I have no experience with having kids, much less sharing custody, but I can feel your and your kids’ pain. It sounds like they really love you and that you have a great relationship :)
    And I absolutely LOVE that pic of your son cracking up! haha!

  10. betty aubut says:

    I have never been married and never had children. I just want to say that right up front. I was a child once tho and just can not imagine the emotional trauma of being dislocated every two weeks. yikes. I do understand that it’s always for the convenience of the parents and the children are not considered. They are not asked where they want to live or how they want their lives to work.

    So, here’s an idea I heard once and thought was the best answer FOR THE CHILDREN when the parents turn into assholes towards each other. Both proclaim to do what’s right for the children so they should start now. Perhaps this is a suggestion that might work best for YOUR kids.

    You buy a separate home that is your children’s home. If there are two kids, there is a room for each of them then there is also a room for mom and a room for dad. The parents swap out every two weeks and their “room” gets locked for privacy. The parents get to have their already shaped personalities and values struggle with moving every two weeks instead of the children suffering harm to who they will become as people. If both parents really care about the kids as much as they say they do, this will be an acceptable arrangement for both. If the father remarries, the person they marry must understand from the start that because he needs to be a good dad to the children he already brought into this world, he will need to leave her (or she will need to be moved as well) every two weeks till his kids are 18 or 21 or on their own. If they have children, the “middle house” will have to be bigger OR the new mom and new kids will have to do without dad for two weeks a month as well. If it’s good enough for his “original” children, it’s good enough for the “new ones”. Never make the first borns ever feel that they are less important than the “newer model” children.

    this always seemed the rational solution to me. and provides the most consistency for the kids. If finances are an issue, then this expense needs to taken into account at the divorce! OR one parent who refuses to “have their lives upset” gets to give up custody except for holidays and a summer vacation. After all, both profess to love the children and only want what is best for them.

    something for you to consider. REALLY do what’s best for the kids. really put them first. disrupt your own lives before you would even consider disrupting theirs. You both are in charge of helping them become the best people that they can. a painful childhood is not in their best interests.

  11. Jenn LeBow says:

    My folks split when I was a teenager, and my mother totally took the high road. Through her efforts, we kids were able to maintain a relationship with our father without guilt or worry. I can only imagine how hard that was for her. Now that I am a married mom of 4, the very idea of having to be the high-road gal makes my head hurt a little. But it was SO WORTH IT for her to do that. I have such admiration for her, and a healthy relationship with both parents is a great place for an adult child to end up. You are clearly a great mom. The high road will always pay off! Stay on it! All of us are willing to hang out on it with you. ;)

  12. Kristen says:

    I only have every-other-weekend to get through – but it still bites. And I have the same sense of rage that I DIDN’T ASK FOR THIS and neither did my kids. But because my ex didn’t want to be a full-time family guy, I have to give up a chunk of being a family girl, which I was totally cool with (being the family girl – not giving it up.) I don’t want to go to bars and parties, I don’t want to “live it up”, I can only get so many pedicures (and I do enjoy every one). I just want weekends to be normal. Sigh. So sorry you have to do this on such a larger scale – so sucks.

  13. I did not hate your post – I can understand. Grew up in a home that was split. But I have to say I love the banana idea and yes – I am stealing it and using it on my kids……

  14. technogran says:

    What I would like you to consider is the opposite of your situation, being a single Mum who has to endure the fact that their Dad never bothers with them, never has them for even a day to give me a break from duties. It has broken my heart the way he has treat his two kids over the years with an indifference that I hate (and periodically have a massive rant about) but strangely they still talk to him.
    He will now offer to have our Down’s Syndrome daughter once a month for about half a day (takes her out shopping and for dinner) and that’s been about it. So who out of the two of us has the most right to rant?
    The irony is, he was the one who desperately wanted children…..

    • Lisat says:

      That’s a great reminder to us all who share parenting and face the ensuing challenges. It would be worse for the children to have a father who didn’t care about them.

      • Dana says:

        It’s not all or nothing though. It’s just as bad to have a father and his new crazy wife be toxic as it is to have an uninvolved ex. Both situations suck for different reasons. So sorry technogran for your situation, stay strong girl!!

  15. hemadamani says:

    i can feel your pain and really don’t know what to say. just hang in there …i guess. you are a great mom…

  16. lauralizrd says:

    I heart this blog. cannot believe how much it hits home…feel like you are channeling my every thought. I’ve said every one of your “hates.”

  17. You’re a phenomenal writer. I really enjoyed this. Good luck with your book!

  18. Sarah Harris says:

    Wow! Truth be told I slipped over here to learn what haunted hotel you’re staying in for your next feature. What I found was so amazingly truthful and so many things that I’ve surely wanted to say myself. I was just thinking today that I felt so fortunate that I don’t have a shared every other week or every other 2 weeks agreement. From my perspective, I love that I have a 90/10 arrangement where he comes 1 night a week for dinner and gets them every other weekend. From my perspective I get upset that the time he does spend with them involves TV or video games – no real connection – and he doesn’t try for more time. It’s the kids’ perspective too, that they get upset if their weekends are cut short due to baseball games or whatnot, but at the same time, I wonder if upheaving them every 2 week would be worse.
    I know my son doesn’t like things changing a lot, because of the divorce, when we spun his life out of his control. My daughter was too young to ever remember life with daddy in the house. Thereto, I don’t know if that’s better or worse. She doesn’t miss him not living with us as much, but I know she wants to be a more important part of his life. Especially now that there is a new baby at Daddy’s house. Honestly I hated the idea at first, but the new baby is very sweet and my kids love her, and I admit I love playing with the baby and handing her to him when she’s fussy to watch him have to step up and take care of her and hope that it will give him the chance to learn how to be the father – better late than never.
    I just am very protective of my kids’ hearts and this year there have been some things that squashed my kids’ relationship with him a bit. He didn’t show for my son’s promotion to Boy Scouts, and my daughter feels like a Nanny assisting her step mom instead of getting his love and attention. Sometimes I feel like it’s harder to deal with him now than when we were married because I have to be so careful for how I bring things up if I want them to be sincerely heard and not just dismissed. But the nice thing is the nights when they are here, I can cuddle with my kids and know that we have a good thing. I LOVE that your kids give you an animal to take care of or “forget” things just to get to see you for a bit. I LOVE your banana love notes too from your special guy!
    I don’t know what took me so long to check out your blog but I LOVE that I found you! I will raise a glass of red wine to you and say cheers!

  19. katiedid says:

    Love/Hate: I love your blog and hate that you feel the way you do about your parenting arrangement. Though, I think I understand it. Your situation is bad…with the parallel parenting and the antagonistic relationship with the other household.
    I’m a step mom in a non-custodial household. We see the kids every other weekend. My DH also gets to see them one night each week. He’d love more time with them but he just can’t have it. I have no idea how the kids feel….
    The situation I am in has caused me to think about the whole thing a lot and the only thing I’m sure of is that the kids have to be the center of every decision that gets made post divorce. When my DH used to ask for additional scheduled time with the kids the answer was always “I’m not willing to cut my time with the kids short”. Where is the focus in that statement? On the mom, not the kids. Eventually he stopped asking. In my opinion, the kids lose out. My DH will never tell them that he always wanted to be allowed to spend more time with them but their mother wouldn’t allow it. They’ll always just think that he didn’t want them as much as their mother did. That seems sad to me. They’ll always think that he left them – not their mother.
    Obviously, there is no good solution. Well, maybe there is but it isn’t possible for most adults. If the parents could agree to focus exclusively on the children and make sacrifices for what is best for them then maybe you wouldn’t see notes like the ones you have to read with unsmiley faces from your daughter. And I wouldn’t hear from my step son that divorce is “the bane of my existence”.

  20. John says:

    My hate for today: it’s been over a month since you’ve written anything for your site.

  21. patricemj says:

    i actually came over to your site because I always notice how you comment on freshly pressed and i’ve thought your comments are really short and thoughtful, and they just get better and better.

    i then read this piece and now i’m crying, which is actually a good thing, i function better after i weep. i can’t imagine how sad you must feel to have to be without your kids for two weeks each month. We all have horrible things to go through…I’ve had mine too. But the thing that i hate so much about the hard times is how they do make you hate. i got to be so ashamed of my rage. and spent years trying to hide it. so it’s nice to see someone just letting that freaking hate flag fly once in awhile. that takes a bit of courage. a lot of courage.

  22. candy says:

    I can understand your feelings because my son is going through a similar situation. Like you, it was a divorce that he didn’t want. He does not have a 50/50 situation, but he has them a couple afternoons a week and one weekend night each week. It hurts to see how he feels when he sends them home. It hurts to see my granddaughter cry because she doesn’t want the divorce. She and her brother just want a family….not a room at Daddy’s. So, divorce is ugly (sometimes necessary) and in the long run it’s the kids who hurt the most. I hate, hate, hate to see that.

  23. Pingback: An Ode to Three Douche Canoes « Me 2.0

  24. samesides says:

    I love your transparency and the fact that the thoughts that are in your head are presented so perfectly in your writing. A true gift.

    As I’m sure you already know, my ex and I have a fairly unique situation. I remember those early separation days before we began our official divorce decisions; I couldn’t stand the fact that the kids had to leave THEIR home and go somewhere else, just because of their DADDY’s choices.

    We are great friends now, as you know, but I thank you for sharing your heart so openly. It helps to remind me of why I have empathy for people in a worse situation than myself, and it makes me thankful for having Devon around as a great dad for our beautiful children…

    even though his calendar fetish and OCD tendencies still bug the shit out of me. Thus, I intentionally am late to everything and the house is a mess… because of him. Yeah, it’s totally his fault.

    So I guess the semi-answer one of your questions is: I hate having to try to keep my schedule organized and the house cleaned, but I love it that Devon and I can still co-exist and co-parent. I just don’t allow him in my house unless it’s clean. Otherwise, he’ll go into convulsive fits.

    Keep posting amazing stuff. Love it!

    Unicorns, Teddy Bears and Puppies-

    • Well, at least you HAVE a rationale for your lack of punctuality and trashed house. I think those are just character flaws for me… ;)

      I’ve teased you both extensively about how much you make me feel like SHIT — you guys make the co-parenting thing look so easy. But I have to keep in mind that the reason you have gotten there is because of BOTH of you having enough respect for each other. In my case, I was completely alone in the respect department…despite the fact that I did nothing whatsoever to lose his respect. But clearly in my situation, there is another factor at play — namely, what we all perceive to be a possessive, jealous and revenge-motivated new wife. Ugh.

      Thank you for posting your amazing stuff — I’m so proud of you both and rooting from the sidelines!

  25. heycrin says:

    I found this really interesting, as a child of divorced parents. I was young, about five, but I remember a lot and obviously the after-math of a divorce goes on for years (new partners, houses etc). I stayed with my Mum for the majority and my Dad every other weekend.

    All I can offer you is that there is no ‘right way’ of custody arrangement after a divorce, in terms of how the kids will feel. I felt like my Mum’s was my real home, but over the years I really, really missed my Dad and hated leaving him every other Sunday.

    Although he is the best Dad ever, now that my sister and I are adults we’ve started to realise that he really missed out on a lot of our lives, and that upsets me.

    Your arrangement is upsetting for your children at the moment because of the constant changing, but they will adapt quickly and get into a routine, like I did – but they will see their parents an equal amount, and hopefully, grow up having the exact same amount of attention and care from both. You may feel you are missing out on half of their lives, but so too is your ex – you are both on equal footing. They’re actually lucky kids and hopefully when they’re older they will be thankful that their situation is the way it is.

    I know it must suck, but I just wanted to give my perspective as a kid that is now grown up. I hope it helps somehow :) x

    • It does help, heycrin…thank you so much. I love hearing about well-adjusted, happy children who are products of similar situations. That’s all I can hope for regarding my own kids.

      The only issue I have is this: Yes, my ex is missing out on half their lives just like I do, but HE CHOSE this situation — I did not. He’s the one who hooked up with his high school sweetheart, he’s the one who left our family, he’s the one who forced our children into an instant “just add water” family with her and her children the second he left. Shouldn’t he be responsible for his own actions? Thus, if someone is to have to “make adjustments” after the situation he created, shouldn’t it be he?

      It’s useless to wish for this, I know — the courts in Nevada have a very “split the baby in half” mentality when it comes to custody, and we’re a no-fault divorce state. Just my .02. It does suck to be in this situation, but I do make the best use of my time with my kids possible — I couldn’t love them any more than I do!

      Again, thank you for the comment and for stopping by.

  26. Dena says:

    I thought Florida was a weird custody state, but you’ve got a whacked out system there, wherever you are (I’m assuming Nevada…you mentioned Reno?). Anyway, I agree that two weeks on/off is a very convenient way to split the kids for the parents’ sakes, but what about the kids? Ugh. I’m so, so sorry. And to have to adjust/readjust to each parents’ rules and ways of parenting. Your kids are awesome.

    Also, that banana is such a fantastic idea. I’m so gonna leave my husband a banana note one day. Thanks, Brett.

    • Ah yes, Nevada: home of legalized prostitution, gambling in every convenience store AND the most liberal child-custody laws EVER!

      Thank you for the supportive comment — it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who can see the potential ramifications on the children.

      I hope your hubby enjoys the bana-note. I know I did!

  27. Kylie says:

    That is a brutal schedule. No schedule is perfect, but kids need frequent contact with both parents. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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