If you ask me, and you didn’t, the worst thing about divorce is not seeing your kids half the time.
I was pregnant when I brought up the idea of separation. You can either chalk it up to hormones, and many people did, or you can understand that the situation, for me, had become so dire that I couldn’t bear to bring a new child into a home where the parents had become either silent strangers or angrily bickering about everything and nothing.
“Poor Charlie,” I’ve heard said. “He’ll never know what it was like to have his parents together.” You know what I say to that? Thank God. Maybe, unlike me and Serge, the little guy has a shot at witnessing positive, beautiful relationships as opposed to the dysfunctional one that was playing out in our home. Now the kids are experiencing happy, calm parents who actually like each other. No more driving in the car hissing back and forth while convincing ourselves our kids can’t hear when they absolutely can. No more arguing in the bedroom while the kids are downstairs watching cartoons only to turn and see Violet standing in the doorway with a look on her face that shatters your heart into a million tiny pieces.
Because not being with the kids half the time is so devastating, Serge and I have taken to texting photos of them to each other throughout the day. It makes a huge difference when the void of no kids is eating your heart and mind alive on the days they’re with the other parent. For example, Serge and his mom took them to an amusement park the other day and I got updates via several adorable photos including Violet and Henry fighting on a boat ride, Charlie grinning away. Last night I messaged Serge photos of the kids eating ice cream and later, a shot of them in the tub. I can’t tell you how far this goes in changing the dynamic of the divorce. Not only is one parent feeling included even though they don’t have the kids, it engenders positive feelings between me and Serge because we ending up texting each other funny captions to go along with the photos; often captions only we understand by nature of being together in this co-parenting thing to these three beautiful kids we’re raising.
Something that’s been hard for me is that we live in Pennsylvania near Serge’s family and mine is across the country in Utah. It makes me feel so lonely. When the kids are with him, Grammy is around a lot or they’re going to her house or Uncle Dave’s place. Holidays are obviously way more fun with family. I definitely feel left out. I’m not complaining — it is what it is — but it’s been one of the hardest things about the separation. I’ve always viewed Pennsylvania as Serge’s state and I still can’t wrap my brain around the fact that this is where I’ve settled, this is where I’m raising kids, even though I don’t really know anybody here. In fact, one of our main points of contention during the early stages of separating was where we’d raise the kids. I instinctively wanted to return to family and friends in Utah and Serge obviously wanted to remain near his family in Pennsylvania. After a lot of back-and-forthing and tears on both parts, here we are.
Realizing I have a text, though, and seeing the sweet faces of my kids has saved me from despair more times than I can count. When feeling overwhelmed at my new full-time job or just sitting home feeling lonely, the ping of a text from Serge completely changes my mood. Hard not to look at those little faces and not feel grateful that I’m their mama, you know?
Not only that, but now the kids are in on the action. Several times a day I’ll hear, “Take a pitcher and send it to Daddy!” Not only are the texts lifelines to my babies when I can’t be with them, but the texting keeps the kids feeling connected with both parents throughout their time with one or the other of us as well. They’ve taken to requesting photos of me while I’m at work and I always oblige. It makes my heart grow three sizes knowing that they want to see what I’m doing when I’m not with them, that they’re thinking about me when I’m not there.
And that’s the thing. I’m lucky enough to be divorcing a guy who gets it. Who understands that while we may not be right for each other right now, he still cares about my feelings, still wants me to be happy and it’s in his best interest anyway as I’m the mother of his children. Not only do I want him to be well for his own sake, but he is the man who will guide my babies through life which means that his happiness and well-being will always be of utmost importance to me. And that’s really the rub of parents who divorce. If you really love your kids, if you put your kids before yourselves, as you should, then there should be no divorce drama. Nothing. If you’re putting your kids through the trauma of divorce and taking away their chance to grow up with both parents in the same home, you should work your butt off to make the divorce worth it.