I was having a conversation with a friend, who also has young children and has been divorced a few years now. She too shares custody and has her kids 50% of the time. She also does the 2-2-5 custody schedule. We were talking about how we feel as if we live two separate lives. When we don’t have our kids, especially for the 5 day stretch, we are living a life without kids – free and available to do whatever we want. Of course there are some days when our kids have sports and activities and we will absolutely be there, but for the most part, those 5 days are the complete opposite of our days with the kids. We both agreed that staying in our homes felt lonely, eerie and super quiet without all our kids running around and being loud. We talked about how we preferred to spend our days without the kids at our boyfriend’s houses, so we weren’t constantly reminded of the quietness that filled that house without our sweet kids. Sometimes those 5 day stretches are filled with fun adventures, lots of adult time, fun nights out, or even a vacation if we can get away from work.
However, when that time is up, it’s almost like you morph into a completely other person. We compared stories about switching gears, going from a single adult to a full time single Mom. We frantically run around before our kids come, going to the grocery, getting everything as perfect as can be and ready for them to arrive. We do the switch with our ex husbands, and shuffle around the sports equipment, backpacks, lunchboxes, water bottles, stuffed animals, school papers, shoe bag, pool bag, electronics bag with computers, iPads, phones, chargers, etc. The transition is always hard. And not just for the Moms. It’s hard for the kids too. It always takes a full day for my kids to adjust, especially my youngest. She gets upset at the switch, and always asks why we can’t just all live together and why they are always packing bags. It’s hard. It’s heartbreaking. And, it’s our life. Every 2 days, every 2 days, and every 5 days. 2-2-5.
For all the Moms who are living two separate lives and constantly having to switch gears, I see you. I feel you. I know how mentally challenging it can be. And you’re doing a GREAT job. Even though most days you think you’re failing, you’re not. Your kids will recognize that you are strong and you are setting a shining example for them. They know you are striving for true happiness and that you refuse to stay in a bad situation that doesn’t bring you joy. When you think you can’t do it anymore, and the shuffle and the juggle is too much, just know that you got this. There are other single moms all over who are doing it too, and they are cheering you on. We’ve got each other’s backs, especially when our non-divorced friends don’t understand. They don’t understand just how hard it is to switch modes and go from having your babies under your roof every day, to not having them under your roof for 5 whole days (or longer!) And, they don’t understand that no matter how long you’ve been divorced, it’s still hard every single time you drop them off or say goodbye. Your friends may think you are OK and that you’ve moved on, but us divorced Moms know that you still get teary eyed every time you say goodbye and let go of all control of your babies. We get you and we got you. You may feel so completely alone, but you are not. You are not alone and you are doing a great job.
Life is short and life is hard, but it sure can be beautiful too. Don’t miss those moments. Be present. Stay strong.