Friday, June 29, 2018

Divorce Failed Us

We were lucky in terms of a divorced family.

Most of our co-parenting issues seem to pale in comparison to other stories I've heard.

When we divorced, there weren't lawyers involved. Just us.

For the first year after divorce, I was trying to figure out boundaries because I just wanted the kids' lives to feel as normal as possible. So their dad came over for movie nights and we went hiking as a family and I held it together for the sake of our kids.

It wasn't easy for me. Because I was still betrayed and angry and I tried so hard to show him how well I was coping even though I was NOT coping well at all.

But at least the logistics were pretty easy---even if the emotions were brutal.

After a while, we got used to our groove but it still left lasting scars. Because every once in a while, the kids would call and beg to come home and I would stay strong for them until the phone hung up before sobbing into my pillow. The contrast of going from a full time stay-at-home mom to having times where a court document told me when I was and wasn't allowed to see them was awful.


The Mama Bear in me just wanted to keep them in my arms at all times to protect them from the pain this was causing.

And when their dad remarried last summer, I was slapped in the face with the "life's not fair" motto. Because not only did it hurt me personally, it came attached with court papers for a change in the custody that was already painful for us.

So when I walked into that court room on January 4th, 2018, our future now in the hands of a judge who did not know us personally, I knew he could change everything and that it had the potential to negatively impact our family.

I knew I would have to be brave to show him whatever bits and pieces of our lives he was going to grasp before making the decision of where our kids would live.

And I think that's why the resounding anxiety has continued, even if it's quieter than it was January through April.

Because I've learned from that experience that so much of my life is out of my control. I don't just get to keep my kids when they're begging to stay. I can fight {and fight, I will} for what's best for them but in the end, a man who does not know our family and our situation is the one deciding how we live our lives.

Let's put this into perspective a little bit---your child has anxiety and is begging to sleep in his own bed, even though he was invited to a fun sleepover. Not only that, the sleepover is at his very best friend's house whom he loves being around. But he still doesn't want to leave you because you are his safe person. He would love to have a late night but he wants you to come back and get him later because the longer he is away from you, the more nervous he gets.

You're probably not going to force him to go, right? Because you want to protect your boy when he is feeling uneasy in a situation. Your mama bear instincts are to keep him close if he's begging to stay close.

That's where divorce has failed us. 

My children love their father very much but until this past year, he wasn't as involved and they were used to sleeping in my home (their home) approximately 26 days each month. They were used to the consistency I've worked so hard to give them.

But then our lives were put in the hands of a judge. 

And all things considered, that judge did an incredible job. He actually kept most of it the same.

But divorce still failed us in the end. 

Because my children were considered too young to be given choices. Their voices weren't given the chance to be heard. And they are continually shown that their voices won't be heard. Because---court documents trump their voices.

On Wednesday, a few weeks ago, as I sat on the phone with my little boy, he begged me to just drive over and tuck him into bed or come pick him up. I told him I wished I could. And as he got more choked up, he said, "I know, Mama.". 

The thing is, he knows I'd be there for him if I could. But divorce makes it so that his very own mother is not allowed to give him a hug just because he is requesting one from her. Because there is a brick wall of court papers that divides us when it isn't "my time".

That is where divorce fails us most.

What was obviously necessary for two parents splitting up takes it's toll on any children involved. Divorce divides what once was a unit.

And even though that is common sense knowledge, until you live it, you cannot know how hard it feels to divide what once was a family.

This part of divorce is harder for me to voice my feelings about because
1 --- My kids love their dad and he loves them. Their pain of being away from me has nothing to do with hating their dad.
2 --- We have worked so hard to build a beautiful life from the ashes of divorce and I believe we are doing that pretty well.

So when I tell you divorce has failed us, I don't say that to tell you our lives are ruined forever. They aren't.
Instead, I voice those feelings to tell you how difficult it is to co-parent and have pieces of paper that tell you you're not allowed to see your babies.

Because when I held my precious newborns, I never imagined I would only raise them 75% of the time and not 100% of the time.

And they never imagined it either.

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