For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39
For the last year I have shared custody with my ex-husband. We have 50/50 custody, we live about a mile apart, we are (for the most part) amicable in this arrangement. I am lucky. There has not been any scaring or damaging court battle. We do not pin our children against each other. We have our complaints, but overall, we co-parent as well as two people ever could. We do not speak ill of each other or put our children in the middle of our own disagreements in front of our children. We make every decision together. This is the way it has always been since we became parents, this is the way, we both pray, it will always be.
When we first separated I read a lot of articles like this one and this one about brave women being honest about how they enjoyed their time away from their children and how they are better moms for it. I admit, I thought this would be me, and some days, it is. Some days are hard and I’m glad I don’t “have my children” those days. I have the flexibility to schedule meetings without the “guilt” of not being home for dinner. I can go to yoga without having to worry about what time the kids need to be picked up. Last night I didn’t eat dinner until 9pm and no one complained but me.
Truth is though, I had that before too.
I was never intended to be a “mother” the way my foremothers were (BTW- spellcheck wants to change that to “forefathers” or “housemothers” I kid you not). I didn’t seek, nor ever intended to be a stay-at-home mom. In fact, I really wish I had it in me, I feel like a lesser mother because I don’t. (guilt for women if you do, guilt if you don’t…) But alas, I am a career mom (and proud for many reasons of it).
The agreement with having children in the first place was we had to be equal partner in it all. I was not cut out to do it alone. My ex-husband stayed home for 6 months at a time with each of our children when they were babies, I went back to work 8 weeks after giving birth both times, and was ready to do so. Yes, I took care of them as I worked from home many days a week, parenting was never one sided, it was always together. Seriously, he and I could write a book on model co-parenting. (PS- It’s consistency. Particularly with communication and scheduling).
In fact, I didn’t notice the problems in our marriage for so long because we were such great co-parents. We had great communication. We rarely had issues where the kids were concerned. We covered with and for each other, we were in agreement with the daily decisions and the big ones, we worked together. We do still, but it is very different.
I have no idea what they’re doing when they are not with me. We have issues with little things like not brushing my daughter’s hair or using the right shampoo (with my kids, hair is a big problem), did they get their allergy medicine? All the shoes and coats got left at his house and change of weather clothing is a demon in and of itself!
When I first separated people were trying, and trying hard to help me see a bright side. “I would kill for a weekend alone!” Guess what, those weekends alone? I don’t know what to do with myself! When I have my kids it’s exhausting and overwhelming, when I don’t, I get depressed. It’s all or nothing, no moderation. But it’s actually not “nothing.”
Because I may only have my kids part of the time, but that does not make me a part time mother.
YES- I like going out without paying a babysitter. YES- I like having a Saturday without catering to every whim. YES- I like eating cookies and ice cream for dinner without explaining myself. YES- I love sleeping in.
But that does not mean on those days I stop being a mother. That I don’t think about, make decisions for, or feel guilt about not being with them.
In Romans, Paul lends beautiful pros to how God loves us. There is nothing we can do or not do to separate the love. If we reject God, God does not reject us. There is no way for God to STOP being God.
I am doing the best I can. Truth is, I have the “ideal” setup for divorced parents and it sucks. I want my kids all the time AND I want to share the responsibility of parenting, we just can’t be married or live together anymore. Do I stop being a mother when my kids are at school, or when they’re on a play date? No. You cannot separate me from my motherhood. Not having my kids all the time does not make me a part time mother. There is no such thing as being a part time mother. Period.
I am a mom. I am divorced. I share custody of my children. On the days I do not see my kids, I am still a mom.
By the way, If you sang Steve Wonder when reading this title, we are bonded forever as friends.