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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I fucking hate notes like these:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I fucking hate empty bedrooms.
- 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.
- I fucking hate the high road.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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).
- 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.”
- 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.
- I love-love-LOVE notes like these:
- I love-love-LOVE every one of these freckles:
- I love-love-LOVE the memory of unbridled joy captured on my iPhone from the week before.
- 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.
- I love-love-LOVE that Boyfriend Brett leaves me messages on random food.
- 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.
- I love-love-LOVE the “two weeks on” of “two weeks on/two weeks off.”
So now, your turn:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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…