I have been mulling divorce for years. Years.
Last year, I finally told my husband that I didn’t feel “that way” for him anymore. How do you tell your spouse, “it’s not you, it’s me” when your brain is thinking, “it’s 75% you at least”.
In all my years of imagining divorced life, I assumed I’d have the kids most of the time. My husband worked anywhere from 1 to 3 hours away, depending on traffic. He could never pick them up from school, help with homework, make them dinner, give them baths, and put them to sleep. I was already living the single mom life for years.
I never questioned my lack of time with the kids. Until mutha effing COVID infiltrated the globe.
Suddenly, a spouse that I barely saw for a decade was now around me all the time. All the time. Do you know how much time that is? Too much. That’s how much time.
Having help should have brought us closer. I no longer had to deal with homework and baths on my own. But it wasn’t enough. Quarantine life didn’t bring us together or renew my love for him despite our efforts with marriage counseling.
My only reason for staying this long was because of the kids. Let me address the comments about divorce I’m going to receive:
- Kids are resilient: sure, but it’s still a trauma. I don’t want to be the cause of the trauma. I’d rather not add a point to their resilience score. I was a warrior as a kid and it messed me up as an adult. Just because someone can tolerate the pain doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to inflict it on them.
- It’s not healthy for the kids to be around arguing: I agree. Get the heck out if your kids are around fighting or violence. But we no longer argued. We were barely talking. We were pleasant and happy around the kids but as soon as they went to bed, we rarely spoke.
- Kids pick up on things: I could bleed out my eyeballs and my kids wouldn’t notice. Our behavior hasn’t changed since they were born. This is their norm.
- Kids do better when their parents are happy: this is debatable. Kids care about their worlds. Just because mom is now happy doesn’t mean the kids are happy being carted between two homes and having their world destroyed. They don’t benefit because mom is finally getting laid.
- Rip the bandaid off and do it now: my kids’ lives turned upside down in 2020. No friends, no outings, no trips, no school, all nuked. I’m not going to be an asshole who adds divorce while they’re struggling with getting an education via a Zoom session.
- I divorced and my kids are fine: I once ate pizza that was under my bed for a week in high school and I was fine. Still, that’s probably not something I would recommend.
There’s no way around it. No matter how amicable you are, a divorce is a bomb on their universe.
The best time to split is when your children are quite young (they won’t remember a life with both parents together) or when they’re teenagers because not only do they have higher emotional intelligence, but they’re already self-absorbed into their teen world anyway.
My kids are in the worst window. Old enough to remember. Too young to understand.
We’re stuck under one roof because of social distancing. With my son’s autism and my daughter already having learning delays, it’s a two-person job. It’s more like a five-person job but this is what I’m working with. Even if we divorced years ago, we likely would have figured out a way to live under one roof during COVID.
This is as good a time as any to try a Parenting Marriage, where you and your spouse are coworkers who raise children. It keeps the most important element: the kids stay under one roof with both parents who get along. They don’t care if mom and dad bone. They don’t care if mom and date have romantic date nights. They don’t care if mom and dad spend quality time after they go to bed.
The other bonus in trying a Parenting Marriage during social distancing is that there’s no weirdness with friends since we can’t see them anyway.
I didn’t anticipate my husband would still love me through all this. I had no idea he would remain for months, clinging to hope. It was naïve for me to think he would grieve and then heal from this breakup. It’s too one-sided and realistically, at this point, I can’t sustain this after the kids are done with homeschooling in June 2021.
So my brain goes back to the divorce planning that I’ve done for years. Except, one caveat: I no longer will have the kids 99% of the time. My quasi-ex-husband is working from home permanently, which means an even 50/50 split. (No, I’m not an asshole who will push for more time. It’s important they get equal time with each of us.)
I’m struggling to wrap my head around this. 50% less time with my children while they’re still…children. That’s roughly 5 years completely gone. My brain still can’t accept that math.
All mothers fantasize about time away. A woman is lying if she says she hasn’t fantasized about escaping for a week where she can enjoy silence and drinks served to her by a guy named Enrique. I could do a week away from my kids, no problem.
Can I do every other week away from my kids? My heart feels gutted at the thought.
I don’t doubt that eventually everyone gets used to the new routine and schedule. But I don’t want to be a part-time mom. I don’t want to go out there and “live my best life” without them. My best life is with my kids…just without their dad.
In my mind, having my kids for 50% of their childhood makes me less of a mother. That’s so much less loving, teaching, and craft time. And while it’s emotional hell and probably financial hell for some for women, there is still a luxury to having time to yourself. Motherhood is not synonymous with luxury.
I’m not saying I’ll be sitting in the bathtub every night when I don’t have them (note to self: take the fizzy bath bombs when splitting assets). Odds are, I’ll catch up on work and pursue additional career-related interests. Still, that’s a perk full-time mothers don’t have.
It’s like I’m cheating. When I had a baby, I took on the role to care for them whenever they needed me. Around the clock. Now I’m cutting that role in half like a knife slicing a tomato in an infomercial.
What right do I have to cheat my way through motherhood by only doing it half the time? I’m taking the side shortcut in a marathon.
That makes me a dick.
As of yesterday, school is back to being completely virtual (compared to two hours a day Monday through Thursday), which is a shitshow. There’s no way around it at their age. All the Pinterest-worthy tips and pretty baskets around a desk aren’t going to help. My kids reached their breaking point this week and no longer think it’s fun to stay at home all day.
While I’m in coronavirus limbo, I’m going to carve out more time to spend with them. Actual quality time, not “check my phone because I’m chomping at the bit for socialization and seeing if Trump is getting impeached.” I also need to help out more with homework. My kids don’t give a fuck anymore and it shows. I don’t blame them when they have classmates that interrupt a Zoom class to yell “MY BROTHER MADE MY GUMS BLEED!”
That’s the best I can offer: while I will be a part-time mother in the future, for now I’m full-time. I need to step up my game and make sure they know they’re loved, regardless if they see me or not.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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