I started writing this entry last week when the kids were staying with their mom. I find my mental state fluctuates a great deal depending on whether they’re staying at my house or hers so I thought I’d wait until I could have a more objective take on the difference. As is typically the case, I still get to see the kids a great deal, even on my off weeks. Regardless of whether my ex and I are annoyed with each other for some reason or on good terms, somehow we still manage to put the bigger picture into perspective and help each other out or give the other a chance to do something special with one or more of the rugrats. It’s comforting to know that on any given day I might get to spend a little time with them even when they’re with their mom. It’s not always easy … but again … important to look at the big picture.
One element that is difficult to grow accustomed to on my off weeks is the quietness of the house when they’re not here. There is an element of completeness when they’re living here that comes with making lunches for school, tucking them in, waking them up (or them waking me up), picking them up at the bus stop, doing homework, making dinner as a family etc. Conversely, there’s a bit of withdrawal that happens on the off weeks that’s impossible to fully overcome. It’s a stark reminder of the new reality and as much as I try to take advantage of the “me” time and the ability to work without interruption, or hang out with friends, there’s still a void or emptiness. It’s almost as if I’m living a double life.
I suppose that will always be the case. I’m fairly certain and would expect that my ex-wife experiences the same thing and I’m sure the kids feel it too on some level. Even though at all times they have a foundation, the shifting has to wear on them. As much as we try to communicate about rules, parenting, punishments, etc., there’s still going to be a difference in the environments which on some level has to be a bit of a shock to the system for the kids. I do my best to remember on the weeks that I have the kids that my ex is probably going through many of the same emotions I go through when they’re with her. The withdrawal that occurs when you drop them off is unmistakable. You can plan all you want and think about how much you’re going to get done when you get back to the empty house, but inevitably when you get home you go through a decompression that has you on the couch reflecting on the week and adjusting to the silence.
As much as we’ve grown and as much as we’ve adjusted, there are obvious aspects of this new reality that will take a long time to grow accustomed to. Seeing their mom on a regular basis, knowing what we were to each other once up on a time, knowing where we stand now, wondering where we’ll stand 3 years from now; it can all be very overwhelming as you try to put things into perspective. All I can do for now is enjoy them to the fullest when I can and focus on the fact that they laugh a lot. They sing in the shower. They giggle and hug a lot. Honestly, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear some days they seem more grown up than I do.
I know I’ve said it repeatedly, but it really does deserve repeating. Whatever you experience emotionally when it comes to the kids works both ways. Whatever you’re experiencing, there is another person who will be going through the exact same thing directly after you. I’ve always lived life believing all things in moderation. But there’s no way to fully accomplish this when it comes to a divorce. You can soften the drop off a bit but for the most part it’s all or nothing one week at a time. Therefore, it’s important to give your mind a chance to adjust and to give yourself time to prepare for the transition. And if it’s difficult, which it will be … just think of what it must be like for the kids.