The past week, home alone while my kids were vacationing with their dad, truly made me appreciate my alone time. I tuned into the obvious stuff we all feel when our kids are elsewhere for a few hours, like how deeply I need quiet and space and a respite from the nonstop, "ready to be summoned at any moment" duty of motherhood. Throw in single motherhood, and you can triple that feeling.
It was during this quiet time that it occurred to me that unlike married moms who may experience this for just a few hours here or there, we divorced moms who share custody get to relish these “I belong to me” moments several times a month, for long stretches of time! Lying on my couch, I thought, "Wow, this is the life. I get the best of both worlds."
Divorcehood rocks way harder than (what I recall of) married life, and here’s why.
1. The "me time" is real
What divorced moms get isn't your ordinary "two hours on a play date" variety of "me time." We get full overnights where no one wakes us up at night. We get that one-hour bathtub time on that night the kids are at their other parent's house. We get weekend getaways. We get that "do whatever you want" time because no one needs our care or attention. We get girls' night once (or more) a week. We get "TV on the couch" time. We get an evening Soul Cycle class.
It's not that married moms can't do this, too. But you still have kids and a husband to deal with when you get home or in the morning. What's fun about that? And, for moms with full custody, they have to either pay a sitter or have a family member watch the kids. Oh man. I feel for them more than anyone. They are the truest badasses in town.
But we divorced moms basically get to be bad. Real bad. Not that I know what that means. If you do, please tell me, because I have the space and time to be it!
When I was married, there was a ton of looking over one another's shoulder and making those little passive-aggressive comments that were meant to be 'totally harmless.'
2. I'm tense enough as it is
Marriage is filled with tension. I'm filled with tension. Wow, that's a lot of tension. I know it's healthy for kids to experience real relationships as they ebb and flow through difficulties. I know what they say about showing kids the journey through interpersonal tension, all the way on through recovery, but what I've noticed about my married friends and how they relate is that they are tense all the time! There is always fighting or pretending not to be fighting in front of, next to, near and around the kids. This can't be a good thing! Guess what, I carry enough tension around on my own for 10 married couples. My kids get plenty of experience watching me attempt to deal with my own shit; they are fine without having to handle couple in-fighting of any kind.
3. We don't have to do that constant "just checking in" thing that married people do
"Hey, Chelsea, you want to go to Giorgio's next Saturday night? I don't have my kids!"
"Sounds fun! Let me check in with Andrew."
I'm sitting at lunch with friends, and there is the constant, "Hang on, I just need to check in with Max" thing. Or even "I better check in on Steve. You know how he is with the kids."
This does not happen with single moms. Single moms have to trust and empower the crap out of their exes. If we checked in on them all the time, we would all surely lose it. We don't infantilize them when it comes to parenting our shared kids. We don't call it "babysitting." They are on full-time, full-service, full-parenting duty that does not need to be monitored by us.
In terms of socially, the only time we need to check in with our exes about anything is if it impacts our custody schedule in any way. We are solitary and free. When you are truly on your own, there is no one you need to run anything by. Perhaps the ideal marriage honors this sense of independence, but once you have kids with someone, it's a constant battle of time-share.
4. There is no one to monitor, breathe down our backs or tell us how to parent (or vice versa)
Come on, you know it's true. When I was married, there was a ton of looking over one another's shoulder and making those little passive-aggressive comments that were meant to be "totally harmless." You know the ones—when you ever so gently rip your partner a new one over some bonehead parenting move.
"Oh, you might not want to keep that MASSIVE STEAK KNIFE on the table while you're feeding little Boo Bear."
"You might want to try a different tone next time. Didn't I send you that article from Hand-in-Hand Parenting? Don't tell me you didn't read it. Again."
When you parent alone, you're the only one to call out for being an asshole. It's hard enough making parenting mistakes (all day, every day — if you're me) then to have your loved one standing just a few inches away giving you the evil "you suck at this" eye. When you are a divorced mom, ah, this particular weight of oppression hath lifted!
5. No power plays in the home for who does what
We also all know this. When you're married, it's a nonstop trade-off of parenting duties. What starts out as that early bonding time over "You do the diaper and I'll get the diaper bag packed, woohoo!" evolves into "I read books the past three nights in a row, it's your effing turn!"
6. We get to drop off our kids
This refers back to "me time," to all that time we get for self-care. (I personally need hours of it weekly.) For moms who share custody, there is always that moment during the week when we get to drop off our kids or they get picked up. It's a lovely moment. It signals the start of "me time." And if you go back to No. 1, you'll be reminded of just how good this is.
7. We get to miss our kids
Alas, if I sound like the crankiest bitch who should have never had kids, please forgive me. Because there is no greater moment in the world than when you pick them up after being at your ex's. You are reminded of your intense love and attachment. All the crap from the last fight you had has been washed away. You are cleansed of all the bad parenting shit because they've been away, immersed in a different world and FORGOT IT ALL. All is good. All is new. You've missed them and they missed you, and all the wrongs are magically righted from your short time away from each other. It's good. Real good.