with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
The crushing pain of the dissolution of a family unit is one of life’s inexplicable mysteries. I don’t think it can be fathomed until experienced first-hand: like labor, like the vice-grip horror of the loss of hope. It’s a death, of sorts: of a family unit, of hope, of the purity of those moments in the hospital with a first born child when you couldn’t imagine anything but the eternity of your overwhelming, deep love. Your little family unit, together forever.
It took me well over a year to be able to get through the day without physically mourning the loss of my son’s father in my daily life. I didn’t let the tears flow in front of my son, or my immediate family who had supported me so unflinchingly during some very heavy days. But at night, when my head hit the pillow in the silence of the night, memories infiltrated and I let tears drop silently, unnoticed, until my pillow was soaked through to the the side. I was pretty sure my heart would never heal.
It’s been close to two years now, since my son’s father moved out, and I am OK now. Mostly.
Sometimes, the weight of what we’ve chosen, what we destroyed, hits me like a punch. At summer barbecues, around young families with babies, I look down, willing away the tangible regret. When I see a young Father with his boy’s hands wrapped around his, my heart seizes up a bit. When I watch Nolan regard other kids with their fathers, I get an awful lump in my throat. I bawled, partly with beauty, partly with envy, and mostly with loss when I watched this video the other day. But mostly things are much better. My ex and I have a working relationship and we both fiercely love our son. We can talk like civilized adults and I can say confidently that we are both striving to be better human beings.
What I didn’t realize, though, is that things get better before they get hard again. Now that my ex and I no longer consistently shatter each other’s hearts, we have a working relationship and do our best to co-parent our son. But there are challenges.
My ex wants to come to my son’s third birthday, for example, and I want him there for my son, too. But what about my parents, their feelings about that? How do I go about cleaning up the shrapnel without going back to square one? My Dad will not want to be in the same room as my ex, and I just wish I could jump into the past and gather up all the strong words, throw them into the abyss.
Inevitably, extended family gets involved in an emotional divorce. And courtesy is owed to them, too. I’m finding it difficult to navigate the precarious line — how do I best meet the needs of my son while respecting my parents and my ex? What I am doing for the time being is trying to understand what would be very best for my son - and making my decisions that way. Inevitably, though, heads will roll. I just hope it doesn’t happen at my son’s 3rd birthday party.
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