Most of you know that I am now a divorcée (sounds a bit fancy doesn’t it 😉 ) and single mum to my awesome boys. The other day I received an email from a beautiful woman who was curious to know how we manage the whole visitation hoo-haa. She also said I seemed to handle it so well and so nicely, with integrity and kindness.
And I laughed and I laughed while I patted my unicorn.
It was a lovely, lovely thing to say and it made me happy to know I haven’t been coming across as a bitter ex wife, but it’s most definitely not easy and I reeeeeaaaallllyyyy don’t always handle it so well.
I don’t mention a lot about my ex-husband for a number of reasons. Firstly, I don’t really want to. We had a rough number of years and the marriage ended not-so-great (understatement). It’s taken me an incredibly long time to be able to look forward with a smile and some days still take work. Quite frankly, my last 10 years have been all about him and so sometimes (most of the time) I just don’t want to talk about him. Secondly, one day my boys may read my blog. I have a very strict rule that I do not ever speak negatively about their dad to them or around them……. I wait until they’re sleeping and I call my mum and girlfriends and save it all for them 😉 Same goes for the blog. I would hate for them to stumble across Raising Misters and see it filled with the rantings of a pissed off crazy lady.
Every now and then I’ll mention something, I’ll answer any questions I receive and every now and then I may even write posts about my experiences but for the most part, I really wanted to keep the mood light here.
But I was asked a question about the drop off as this person is going through something and wanted to hear my thoughts and our story. So here you go.
A role model
Firstly, I do believe boys needs strong male role models in their lives. Mums don’t always cut it and there’s just some times when boys need their dad or another male around when they need one. I say “another male” because I am completely aware that in some situations the dads either aren’t around for the children or don’t deserve to be.
Arrangements and issues
From the beginning, we had our own arrangement as far as weekend visitation goes. The first night my boys spent away (before he had a girlfriend) was horrendous. They were excited but a little sad, I was devastated and oh-so lost. While most people would relish having a child free break, I held my breath and counted the minutes till they came home.
After a while, cracks began to show.
I believe, at times, my boy’s father can be a good person, that he loves his sons and that for the most part he does want to spend some time with them. I know he would never intentionally hurt them but sometimes common sense seems to be severely lacking and that can be a worry. After many, many months of “issues”, I instigated mediation (which was an incredible disappointment in our case) and an agreement was set. As a result, the boys spend now every second weekend at their dad’s house which he shares with his girlfriend and her two children.
I wish we were one of those ex-couples who are great friends and share meals and happy times, but the reality is we’re not. I am civil and polite and always ensure he is kept updated with all news regarding the boys. There have been problems here and there and I’ve tried to deal with them as best I can and always try my hardest to shield the boys from any conflict.
Anytime someone begins a new relationship after divorce, it’s hard. It needs to be handled so delicately when children are involved. We had made an agreement back at the beginning that, because our boys were so young, if either one of us entered into a new relationship it would have to be pretty serious and a few months old before the boys are even introduced. After they meet we had decided that the boys needed to be comfortable with the situation before overnight stays occurred. This is what suited us and what we believed would work for our boys, everyone has their own methods and ideas and ways of dealing with situations and this was ours.
The first night the boys spent with their dad and his girlfriend was actually a bit of a surprise as he hadn’t told anyone he had a girlfriend. The boys came home quite upset and confused, which being the ridiculously over protective mum I am, just pissed me off. Greeting your eldest baby at the door only to be asked a teary “why is there a lady sleeping in dad’s bed” kinda throws you. Let’s just say words were had and it’s been tense.
When their dad moved in with his girlfriend, I spent a great deal of time helping the boys through yet another change. My eldest didn’t handle it to well. He was angry and sad and frustrated that he now had to share the only time he has with his dad. I had images of this angry teenage boy, completely shut down and hating the world and after trying many different methods, I sought outside help to try and encourage him to share his feelings. This helped him a great deal.
Our new arrangement
Now that they (the boy’s dad and his girlfriend) live together over an hour away, we changed our drop off/pick up arrangements. He now collects them from school and kindy on a Friday afternoon, swings past home to drop off their things and the boys and I squeeze in extra cuddles as I paint a smile on my dial before they head off until Sunday afternoon where I meet them at a petrol station about 25 minutes from my home.
A petrol station.
I did not want to have one of those cliched arrangements but the situation has lead up to this point. So we deal with that too.
They have now spent many weekends with their dad. And I still hold my breath and count the minutes. Every time. I am very slowly starting to enjoy a bit of timeout but I hate it just as much. There’s still “issues” with the boys coming home unwell, overtired, injured, and with new special words and attitudes. So we deal with that too.
What I do in my “free” time depends on the weekend and my mood. I was spending a great deal of time at home being miserable, plotting Emily Thorne worthy revenge, and getting a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m truly not that person but situations were bringing me down. Spending a lot of time on you’re own in the aftermath, you begin to wonder who you really are now and what you really want to do. I am still working that out, but I’m starting to be a little less sad sack and a little more “me”.
I’ll go out with friends for a meal or I’ll visit friends/family for laughs and gas bagging. I’ll write or dance around my loungeroom or walk along the beach or take a drive through the mountains. If I feel like some quiet time I’ll stay in with a crap tonne of takeaway and snacks I don’t have to share (best.thing.ever) with movies and books and indulge a little. I like to get up early and find some good markets or stay in my pj’s till lunch. Wherever the mood takes me really.
Deal with it
I know that most of the time, the boys are happy to go and their happiness means everything to me. While I’ve helped them through all of the changes that have occurred, I too have had to deal with things of my own. Being without the boys when it’s really just been our little team of three forever. The thought of my babies playing happy families with someone else is crushing and at times, makes my heart ache more than I thought possible. Christmas night in an empty house. But that’s for me to deal with and (I’m hoping) it will get easier with time.
It’s all well and good to tell people that you must be kind and you must be civil, to work around the kids and do what’s best for them and have open communication with your ex. When these things are usually a one sided thing in my case, it makes it hard. And for some, it’s impossible. I absolutely never want to drag my boys through shitty court cases and nastiness. Ever. So I do what can and I do what I need to and try my ass off to make it work and keep them happy. If you have to ugly cry or rant a bit in between, you do what you’ve gotta do.
If you’re figuring your way through divorce and visitation, I promise you that it will never be easy all the time but it does get easier. Sometimes things will go completely ass up and knock you over, but you get up. You work it out. Ask for help if you need it, and believe me, there will be times when you do. You’re not alone.
Love the shit out of your kids and cherish every second they’re with you. Even when they’re fighting and whinging about dinner and telling you you’re the worst mum ever.
For those of you in similar situations, how does it work for you?