If You Give a Mom a Moment

me and kiddos

Each summer my big girl makes a 5 or 6 week visit to her dad. On top of that, I share custody of my youngest so I get her every other week. So at times when they are both away, I am forced to take…a moment.

I know I am not alone in my situation – there are plenty of other parents that have to experience this. I used to get intensely sad and mope for days and even fall into a depression about it. But I have slowly been able to turn my perspective of void and sadness to joy and happiness.

So, what is the big turn around?

My girls and I really enjoy the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series. We are always making up our own goofy versions. So here’s a nod to Laura Numeroff, the author, and a feeble attempt at a parody on it to try to explain how things turned around for me.

If You Give a Mom A Moment…

At first she will be sad. Saying good bye is hard. Chances are, she will cry. She will try not to cry in front of her child, but if she does, chances are, she will realize moping around and acting like a victim or martyr, borders on emotional manipulation and only robs everyone of happiness. If she wants her children to be strong, well-adjusted people – she will want to model that.

And if she is modeling healthy role-model behavior, chances are she will eventually find humility – She will have to accept that she alone, is not enough for her children. That her kids need their dad(and step mom if there is one, and many other relatives) in their lives to keep them stable, happy and confident. It takes a village. Really.

Once she is humbled, chances are, she will just want her children to be happy. She will realize that as long as her kids want to spend time with their dad and he wants to spend time with them, it is ALWAYS a positive and wonderful thing. So she will foster that relationship like crazy (regardless of her past and personal history with her ex. Because she will realize it is not all about her).

And chances are, if she sees how happy her kids are, it will change her perspective. She will realize there are much harder things people are dealing with, and that this is a very temporary time apart.

When she realizes this time apart is only temporary, chances are she will spring into action and want to take advantage of the fleeting moment.

She will want to deep clean, and even down-size STUFF!

And since she is cleaning and decluttering, chances are, she will sift through the mountain of randomness that inevitably collects in the open real estate of unused kitchen corners and dispose, dispose, dispose…and file the 3 things she actually needs to keep.

Since she cleaned up all that clutter, chances are she will want to get organized and figure out how to prevent that from happening again.

She will probably spend some time on pinterest searching really cool ways to organize stuff.

And since she is on pinterest, chances are, she will see images of women that appear to have it altogether and are enjoying life.

When she sees images of these women being carefree, she will remember a time when she was carefree.

It might remind her that the only person holding herself back from being carefree right now is her, and she will want to claim some quiet time herself.

She will probably sit still and do nothing for awhile. She will be reminded of a time before children where there was no one constantly bumping her, stepping on her toes (literally), poking her, sitting on her, and interrupting every 5 seconds.

And when she thinks about not being interrupted, chances are, she will want to spend some time with her spouse completing full sentences and thoughts and catching up with the person she fell in love with.

When she spends time with her spouse, she will probably talk about her dreams and hobbies. She will want to work on recording music she has written, work on books that need finished and published, sift through electronic pictures and maybe get some printed out. She might even want to paint, and experiment with new art forms.

Painting will remind her of wine and canvas nights and time with her own friends. Chances are, she will make a few dates with her friends and go out and have a blast, without needing to ensure everyone is safe, comfortable, and properly hydrated (and bug sprayed, or sun screened, or have enough snacks on hand, or needs a hair tie, or has to go potty or…)

And when she spends time with her friends, they will probably end up talking about their children. She will get to vent about life and parenthood, and then brag a little about her kids. Chances are, she will compare notes, and get some great advice.

And when she gets some great advice, it will probably make her reflect on what she is doing well as a mom, what she could do better, and take some time to read up on how to influence instead of nag. How to partner, not be nosy.

And while she is reflecting, chances are, she will probably miss her kiddos. She might even shed a few tears…

But this time they are not tears of pure sadness, but of completeness. And when she realizes how far she has come…chances are, she will want to have a moment.

Removing your own internal organs

When you go through a divorce with children the cliche phrase “It feels like my heart is being ripped out”, becomes more than just a dramatic statement. It is about the only way to accurately describe the manifestation of the pain you emotionally feel…but for me – I physically felt it. My heart physically hurt…my whole body hurt.

I even starved myself for awhile and I found out somewhere along the way that it wasn’t just because I was not hungry – but it dawned on me that I actually “liked” the pain of being hungry all the time because it kind of masked the pain in my heart!

In my case it was all so shocking. I had just had our daughter when I found out about the affair my husband had been having for a year and maybe more. Though we had not had the most stellar of marriages, I honestly did not see that coming. He was traveling excessively, I was a pregnant stay at home mom – and these situations can cause some stress on any marriage. We were finally having a baby together for heaven’s sake! For some odd reason I thought we were on the same team!

So when I found out about it and the way I found out about it (phone records and hotel receipts) I was in shock. I even fought to somehow overcome it and keep the marriage together, but he didn’t want that. He had already moved on.

It was completely bizarre to me. After all the professions of his love to me – I was the golden girl that got away. His childhood dream girl that he finally got to be with. The one he had been waiting, hoping and dreaming of his whole life. No…I really didn’t think he would so easily jump on board another train at such a critical time. Blah Blah Blah…

The shock and pain of a marriage dying and crumbling was bad enough…but there were children involved.

So to say my heart felt like it was being ripped out is kind of an understatement. More accurately – it felt like I was being asked to remove my own major internal organs. Reading over all the legal documentation and trying to work out visitation schedules – this is specifically where it felt like I was reading instructions from some foreign piece of paper and trying to slit open my body and figure out which organ is the right one to take out.

First of all – I never wanted the divorce and secondly – now I am being asked – “So which major holidays would you like to willingly give up your child for?” WHAT?!?! And the questions are asked with such coldness and ease – as if this were just the most normal question in the world. While my spouse is across the table acting like this IS the most normal thing in the world. OMG! My heart is racing, I feel like passing out…where is the door, some help…something!”

It felt like I was in some science fiction movie where nothing was making sense. I am being asked to decide or do something that I really shouldn’t be asked to EVER do! And everyone is just staring with normal expressions on their face handing me the pen, asking me to sign so nonchanlantly. I want to scream “I am being asked to sign something that says I willingly agree to NOT be with my lovies on certain days!! What kind of mom does that make me?!?!?! What kind of person does that make me?”

Can you just imagine someone handing you a knife and spinning a wheel with different internal organs to see which one it lands on and then ask you to go ahead and cut yourself open and hand that one over.

Maybe I am being ridiculous, but you moms and dads of the world out there try waking up to an empty house on Easter morning and see if I am really ridiculous. It is just not normal. It feels completely foreign. I am lost. Despite the joy that I am supposed to feel on this day, I feel like I am missing all the best parts of me.

And if any of you want to throw at me – “Just focus on what Easter is really about – Jesus”…Well I would ask you to think before you talk, because the irony of your statement reaches hypocrisy at an alarming rate. Because this holiday is so important to me and because I do love God and Jesus and all that – it makes it even a bit harder because that is also part of what I want to share with my girls who are not waking up in their beds this morning with their sweet little faces and voices and snuggles.

And yes – then there is the “pagan” rituals – like Easter egg hunts and little girls in beautiful spring dresses and bonnets. And though I took my little one to an egg hunt yesterday – I am still hearing the sounds of laughter and joy from other kids right outside my window – the neighbor kids that my girls should be right there mixed in with. It is kind of sad when a childrens laughter is actually a source of sadness.

Despite how much I have worked on buliding “me” back up and working towards restoration…this is the part that will probably never be OK. Not being with my children during important holidays that mean so much to me will probably never be “comfortable”.

I think I have talked a big talk and made it sound like it does get better in time. Maybe it does…I guess even people who have had internal organs actually removed can survive sometimes depending on the criticalness of the organ itself. But that person is never really the same. They are always missing that part of themselves.

I guess if anyone out there that is still married – if you have ever considered divorce as a simple option – or even a not so simple option – I would just encourage you to think about it. Are you ready to do a self inflicted surgery on yourself?

Happy Easter.