the story: my ex and i split up in 2008, when dd was 1. we were never married, and have maintained a mostly 50/50 set up since then - dd is with me sunday through thursday, with her dad thurs pm through sun am (or sometimes sat pm if i'm off sunday). we've both dated other people, and i am currently in a relationship, and living at my mother's house to help her out financially. my boyfriend lives with his family, as well, for similar reasons.
the problem: i see several posts here about missing our kids, and how to explain the various living situations/relationships we have with our children. i grew up with divorced parents and two homes and i hated it. i don't know if that was due to my own parents' relationship (which was poor) or if it was the bag-packing and back and forth that made me so resentful and determined to not repeat that pattern - however, here i am. i spent a long time when my ex and i were still together debating whether or not it was worth sacrificing my own happiness (and sanity) to stay together for the sake of our daughter, or if moving out and separating would be better because at least then i could offer her a better version of myself. in the end, i chose to leave, but three years later i'm still grieving, still coping with a lot of guilt for raising my child between two homes. are any of you feeling the same thing?
my ex is not a bad man. he's not great, and there are numerous issues i'd like to address with him, but many of those are ingrained in his person - ie: the way he was raised, his own goals, etc. and not necessarily things that are change-able - just things that don't match with what i'd like for my life. however, we share a child, right? and so, the "out" isn't as easy as it is when there isn't another being that requires us both to be involved. lately, i find myself questioning the choice to move - especially in light of several of my other mom-friends who are divorcing their husbands and embracing their newly single selves - i feel like we're all throwing in the towel prematurely, maybe, or that splitting up is the new normal, the next step. by no means do i intend to offend or insult anyone for choosing to part ways with their significant other - i only want to point out a trend and address the fact that when these women look to me with wide eyes, hoping that i'll tell them it's going to be great, i can't do it. it's not great. it's really hard, and i carry a lot of guilt.
i turned out alright, you know? i am the product of a divorced family, and i turned out alright. there are definitely ways in which i think i could be better in relationships and more confident in work/career/school/parenting, but who is to say that those skills would have been fostered by keeping both of my parents in a single home.
i guess my question is this: do any of you feel this way? do you worry about your kids and the way they adapt or don't? do you ever wish you would have stayed together, at least for the duration of their childhood? sometimes i wonder if remaining "together" (not necessarily romantically involved) would have been the better choice, and i wonder if maybe we just lacked the maturity to do that.
if you've felt like this before, what have you done to deal? the boyfriend and i have been talking seriously about moving in together, and suddenly i'm feeling totally overwhelmed, like this really cements the two-home deal in place.
(sort of) single mama to one 7/21/07. student, breastfeeding advocate, writer
The way I look at it...there is no "ideal" family. You ("you" in general, not specifically you) wouldn't necessarily be giving your child a better life if you had remained with an ex. Two-parent families aren't always better than single-parent ones (or those headed by grandparents, aunts/uncles, foster parents, etc.), they're just different. With that said, the decision to leave and/or divorce and forever change a family is obviously huge, so if someone leaves, hoping for an automatic bright and shiny, wonderful new life, then the decision wasn't taken seriously enough. If you've thought about leaving for YEARS (not just toyed with the idea, but really thought it out), tried all the alternatives (staying, hoping, wishing, therapy, self-help books), and try to stay realistic about what to expect about life as a single mom or dad, then you can make an informed decision. I see trouble crop up when people expect all their problems to be solved by leaving a relationship only to have a new set of problems come along once they're single.
It is really hard being a single parent...harder than I expected, and I tried very hard to keep my eyes wide open and know what I was getting myself into when I decided to leave my marriage. I miss my son like crazy...honestly, a physical ache...when he's at his dad's house, and I worry about him daily and how he's adjusting, how his day-to-day life is, how he'll feel about having divorced parents when he's older, how it will affect his future relationships. I worry about *me*...how I'll explain the situation to DS, can I provide as good a life for him (financially speaking) as I could have when there were two incomes, will I ever have another romantic relationship while I'm still young-ish and cute?
But despite all of that, I don't regret leaving. I regret that I felt the best decision for me and DS was to leave, but I don't regret actually doing it or our life since then, if that makes sense. I deal with the occasional bouts of guilt by remembering all of the good things about our life now, and all of the bad things we don't have to deal with, at least not on a daily basis. And, not that I always succeed, but I try to create a home for DS that's full of love and laughter and harmony, because I think it's hard to go wrong if you have those things in your life.
Hugs...I hope you find the answers you're looking for.
Mama to DS (5)
thanks mama. my biggest thing right now is wondering if there's an alternative to being together and being apart, like some collaborative living situation - would it make more sense to decide to stick it out til she's grown? it doesn't mean we'd necessarily model a perfect relationship, but at least we wouldn't have to pack the bag. it's the look on her face when he drives away after dropping her off, the way she talks about missing us and wanting to be with him when she's with me and vice versa. i'm sure it's partially due to my own memories of using that as leverage against my own parents (ie: i'm going to live with dad!) but again, that might be because of the crappy relationship my parents had.
at this point, after being apart for 3 years, and having been in a serious relationship with someone else for the last year, i find myself asking a lot of questions about what relationships are and what i want them to be. i'm not seeing anything wrong with non-traditional families at all - i'm asking whether waiting to build those two home lives until dd is grown is worth it, whether she's going to be miserable for the next 12 years or so having to go back and forth.
i mean, on a practical level, it's totally impossible. ex is looking at buying a house in the area, and i'll be moving for grad school (not too far, but i'm not buying a house, you know?) in the next several years. i really can't stand his family, namely his sisters who are just...not the kind of people i want to raise my kid around. but, she's going to be raised within their family-world whether i'm in the house or not, you know? i think it's really just a matter of feeling like total crap for giving her the life i hated, and i feel like there has to be another way, hence the brainstorming and the question of whether or not we should just suck it up and be in one house because deep down i'm totally convinced that i'm ruining her life, and that i also dislike being totally cut off from her world when she's with him. i anticipate so much pain that she's yet to face...you know?
thanks for your kind words
(sort of) single mama to one 7/21/07. student, breastfeeding advocate, writer
OK, I think I see more where you're coming from now.
When I was first considering leaving the ex, we owned a farm together, and I had many, many serious thoughts about building a smaller house (heck, putting a RV or even pitching a tent!) across the pasture from the main house. I thought it was a way to have the best of both worlds...I wouldn't have to remain in a miserable marriage, and DS could have relatively easy access to both parents. I still wish that dream could have worked out somehow, but it went down the toilet pretty quick because of how the ex started acting. I still held out hope that we could at least live in the same town, but like you said...on a practical level, there just wasn't a way to do it.
I relate to what you said about feeling cut off from your child's world when with the other parent, though I do feel very lucky that I have DS most of the time (he's with his dad every other weekend, and for a week or two at a time during summers and holidays). My ex-in-law's aren't horrible, and I know they love DS dearly, but some of their values and thoughts on raising children and about life in general are just not the environment I really want my kid around. At least when I was married, I was around all the time and would at least know what was going on. XH isn't exactly forthcoming with any details about his time with DS, and while I understand, I feel like there are these large chunks of my child's life that I'm missing. Is it worth it? I don't know.
I'm sure there are parents out there living with alternatives to the usual custody/separate living arrangements, but (unfortunately) I think it's kinda the nature of the beast that when a relationship breaks apart, the ties between the parents can become so damaged and strained that there's no hope of working together...at least not to the point of living in the same house. So, not unheard of (if both parents can be mature and able to put the child first), but extremely difficult. I think if some sort of collaborative living thing could be worked out, it could be fabulous. Years ago, I actually read about a divorced couple who built something like a mother-in-law suite for the dad to live in and connected it to the main house by a long hallway. If XH would behave like a sensible person, I think that would be great...but it's not going to happen, not for us.
My own personal compromise for our situation is to promise myself and DS that I will do everything in my power to make sure he has all the contact with his dad that he wants. It's hard to act on this promise right now because he's still so young, but as he gets older, I want him to know that if he wants extra weekends with his dad, or to spend the entire summer with him instead of just a few weeks, or even to go and live with him (though I'm afraid that might kill me!) for awhile...who am I to stand in his way? Anyway, I'm not really helping you with anything, am I?! But I do feel your pain, and I hope you can work out a solution that is good for all of you.
Mama to DS (5)