When my ex-husband and I first told our kids we were getting a divorce, we were willing to do anything to ease the blow for the kids, and for us.
For starters, we originally thought he would take one of the dogs to go live with him, but it upset the kids so much, we decided to leave it alone and keep the animals in our family home with me. It was an easy decision and made them feel better.
And on a much larger note, we originally thought the kids would spend 50 percent of the time with their dad and 50 percent of their time with me. We tried it, but they were extremely unhappy and didn’t like —or adjust to — the set schedule. So, my husband and I quickly decided we would let them float around as they wanted to, and thought perhaps later we would ease into a more conventional routine.
But that hasn’t happened at all.
My daughter just left to spend the night with her father. The two of them are going to see his sister and her kids. I am positive it will be a great night of family bonding and I am happy she seemed so pleased to go.
Her brothers wanted to stay home with me and watch America’s Got Talent and eat homemade cookies, so that is what we are doing. While their father wanted to spend time with them, he understood why they wanted to have a low-key evening with me and is glad they are doing exactly what they want to be doing.
Now that our divorce is final, we are still letting our kids call the shots, which I know is unconventional. Most couples who are parting ways have more structure and routine because that is what works for them, and their kids need to know what to expect. And I think that is great because they are in tune with what’s best for their families, which is truly all that matters.
By comparison, I am not saying we are perfect, or even doing it right. I have no idea how to do this right. All I know is, we are two people who no longer want to be married and are trying to keep our head above water the best way we know how at this point in time — just like every other divorced couple who is trying to find their way back to a happy place.
And I am certainly not saying there haven’t been hard times or hurt feelings. But when this happens, we have a family talk about it, try to regroup and let our kids know if we want to spend more time with one of them.
But I am so thankful this has never been a point of contention between us my ex and me. We both want what the kids want; that is the only way for us to feel peace in our current situation.
Since our kids are older and are able to articulate what they need during this time, my ex and I have made it our first priority to listen to them.
We’ve seen firsthand that when we are comfortable with them bouncing back and forth between two homes, they are happy too — and visa-versa.
There is nothing more emotional and gut-wrenching than having to say goodbye to your kids and not see them for days on end, when all you want is to be with them. Nothing is harder, nothing is more personal, and nothing can make a parent feel more hurt and angry than not getting enough time with their kids. It is a long, hard road.
We are trying to find a positive place in this sad situation, and letting our kids decide where they want to sleep and spend their weekends seems like the smallest price to pay.
They didn’t ask for this, and our current arrangement goes against the grain; but it’s been healing and is working for them, so it works for us.