7 Things You Lose In A Divorce (Besides Your Partner)

When I first realized my marriage was over I thought about what life would be like without my spouse. What changes would be made to my family now that we were a family minus one. What would it be like sleeping in bed alone? Never having someone in the house to delegate tasks I realllly didn’t want to do to? What about when bedtime gets bad and I could use a hand, but that hand lives somewhere else now?

I wondered about losing a spouse and partner in the home and what that would mean for our dynamic and how our home would function now with one less person. But I took me a while to realize that in divorce, you lose so much more than just your spouse.

You lose friends. People pick sides. Whether they intend to or not, they seem to feel the need to form alliances and mutual friends tend to lean one way or the other. Many of my ex-husband’s friends were made during our marriage, which made this especially hard for me because in my eyes, they were just as much my friends as they were his. But they didn’t see things that way. I lost a lot of friends, which in turn meant I lost a lot of support I could have used.

You lose your confidence. Nothing makes you question your ability as a human being like realizing you made the CATASTROPHIC desicion to marry the wrong person. If your divorce is ugly and harsh, like mine, it chips even more away at your self-esteem little by little as you wonder how you could have stayed this long, how this man you shared your life with could do and say these TERRIBLE things about you, and how stupid are you that you didn’t see him for who he really was sooner? You question your judgement, your ability to move on, you wonder if you find someone new if you’ll make the same mistake(s) again. You feel fragile. Broken.

You lose your family. My ex and I were together for 12 years. His family became part of my family. And whether or not we had a great relationship, they were still family. And they are always family to my children. But during (and even after) divorce the relationship changes so drastically. They are no longer people you would want to turn to in crisis. You don’t want to confide in them or rely on them any longer. You feel like they are judging you. And you know that they are on his side, they are HIS family in blood.

You lose time with your kids. You know you’ll have to split holidays and birthdays. Share special days throughout the year or spend them in awkward silence with your future ex, but you don’t realize how much that time really adds up and how much it HURTS until it happens. And it doesn’t get easier. The minute they leave, you miss them. And the minute they get home, you’re already worrying about the next time they will leave again.

You lose STUFF. It sounds like a #firstworldproblem to be concerned about material things, but it’s true. You lose your favorite couch or your best towels. You lose your house when you’re forced to sell it and split things down the middle. You lose your credit limit because it’s no longer a shared entity. Your cars, your plates, your blender, you lose HALF OF EVERYTHING. And you don’t think about this at first, but rebuilding an entire life from 50% back up to where you left off can be hard (and costly) to do.

 

Which means, you lose money. Between splitting your finances and your assets, you also spend thousands on attorneys, mediators, babysitters to help you get through it all. You spend so much money on divorce that the idea of getting divorced ever again means you’ll probably never accept another proposal because you can’t risk the financial hit it sends rippling through your accounts.

You lose your pets. Maybe you are the one who keeps them, but in divorce pets can’t live in two places at once so one of you will be bound to lose your furry friend’s companionship on a daily basis. In my divorce I was so worried about my children and what would happen with them I didn’t even think about my animals until my divorce was almost finalized. They weren’t an item that came up in our talks with our attorneys and if you ask me, that’s not right. My pet stayed with me, but he’s not the same. He lost someone too.

Divorce is hard. It turns your world upside down and forces you to find yourself all over again after years of thinking that this is your “forever life.” Everyone around you gets effected by the residual effects of your mood, your change in lifestyle, your new independence. But you don’t think about how much you really LOSE when you decide to call it quits. It’s more than just the partner you’re divorcing. And that part hurts enough.

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Why I Showed My Kids My Tears During My Divorce

Some things happen in this life that whether in our control or not, are heartbreaking. Things that occur that we wish we could take back, or do differently.

Things that can break us, if we let them.

When I was divorcing my children’s father, I cried. A lot. Often. It was a depressing time for our family and my self-esteem. There were days when my 1-year-old would ask why I was so sad all of the time, and times when my oldest would cry with me because he was sad too.

And it’s because of that – I don’t regret my sheer rawness with my kids, because if I had a chance to do it all over again, I would. And I would do it the same.

Here’s why:

  • People get sad. It’s part of life. People cry. Man or woman, young or old, you are going to shed some tears at some point in your life, and I don’t ever want my kids to think that crying is something to be ashamed of or something they should do in private because I never cried in front of them.I want my kids to see that being sad is part of being human, and it’s ok. If they are sad, depressed, or struggling, I want them to know that this is something people experience, as human beings, and it is OK.
  • I want my kids to see that despite my sadness, I still did what I needed to do. I got up; I got dressed, I put “my face on” and I left the house. Whether I was taking them to school or dragging myself to work, I made sure not to neglect {too many} responsibilities. Even if it felt like I was dusting myself off and going back out into the world that I felt was swallowing me whole.They saw me crying earlier in the morning, but they also saw me pull myself together and take care of my responsibilities. I made dinner, I cleaned. I may have shed tears in between, but life went on, and it was vital for me to show them that.
  • I wanted my kids to know that their parent’s divorce was sad for me, too. I knew they were struggling. They couldn’t wrap their tiny heads around why this was happening and why things just couldn’t go back to the way they were. And I wanted them to see that I felt their pain too.Maybe not in the same way, but we were in this together, as a family. By sharing my sadness openly with them, I hoped it would encourage them to do the same with me. And in many ways it did.

    It also opened the door for us to have some cathartic conversations about what this change meant for our family, how we could get through this as a team, and what the future was going to look like for us.

  • Maybe most importantly, I wanted to show my kids later that there is life after sadness. Because you have the tools to change your life and how you react to it, but you must DO it. I wanted them to see that even if something happens in life that feels like it could be the end of the world, feels like it IS the end of the world, it doesn’t have to be. At least not forever.We are allowed to have our feelings, to feel our experiences, but we also have to take responsibility for our happiness. To do the work to dig ourselves out of the crippling sadness that is tearing us apart inside. I wanted my kids to see me do this so one day they can remember that our family experienced a dreadful event, and it hurt like hell, but we found love in each other, and we climbed out of the depths of depression together, and are stronger now because of it.

    That even if you feel like a devastating event cripples you, eventually, life WILL go on. And when that happens, you can be better; you can be someone with pride and resilience. Because you cried because you allowed yourself to feel the hurt, the pain, and the sadness but also to use it as a motivator to stop feeling sad.

I didn’t make a conscious effort to cry in front of my children at first. I was so overwhelmed with emotions and pain that it happened. In the beginning, I would be lying if I said I didn’t question how raw and open I should be with them about this.

I didn’t share intimate details of my divorce experience with my children, of course. But I did share some of my pain, most of my sadness, and a whole bunch of my tears. And if I had to do this all again, that is the one thing I would not change.

It brought us closer together. Helped us heal as a family, and gave me a chance to have some conversations with my kids. Ones that might not have happened so naturally, so organically, had I not given them the opportunity to see me struggling and in pain.

As parents, I think we tend to question the way we handle situations with our kids. Did we do this right? Could we have done better? Should I have or have not said this or done that? I can honestly say, this is one of those parenting moments that brings zero regrets.

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Does Being In A New Relationship After Divorce Mean You’re Not A Single Mom Anymore?

When I was a newly single parent trying to navigate how to handle life with kids, but without a partner, I remember getting really annoyed, and frankly hurt, when I would see women complaining on social media about being a “single parent” because their husband was on a fishing trip. Or a work trip. Or whatever. He was gone for a short time and suddenly they understood what it was like to be a “single mom”.

But they didn’t. Their situation was temporary. Their partner is coming back (eventually). As a single mom, your situation is forever.

Or maybe not.

Maybe, sometime in the future, you will find someone new to share your life with. And then what? Are you not a “single mom” anymore?

Once I found a new partner and things started getting serious (meeting the kids, living together, and eventually engaged) I had been told by a handful of people that I should stop defining myself as a “single parent” as if I’m alone. I’m not a single parent anymore. I have someone.

And I get it. I understand someone who is TRULY single being annoyed by someone like me. A not-actually-single-single-mom. I would venture to guess that had I come across this situation during my new singleton life, I probably would have been vexed by someone bickering about being a single mom with a partner to share their life with.

But I am here to say, just because you are not “single” anymore, doesn’t mean you’re not exactly living like a single mom anymore either. Maybe just a different breed of single mom.

And here’s why…

I spent the better part of a year alone with my kids, working on my marriage (but apart) and then realizing it was ending, and going from having my kids all the time to most of the time to all of the time again.

I dated.

I did the daily grind of ALL.THINGS.KIDS. every day, all day.

And then I met someone.

And eventually it moved to the next level. And things are great.

(Side note: Blending families, especially when you have kids from divorce, kids who have experienced a parent’s addiction and mental illness, kids who are already annoyed with their blood siblings and now have more kids around A LOT, is really fucking hard. It’s almost (dare I say) harder than keeping a marriage together when you’ve built your life, your family, together. But the difference is, now you have had the experience of hell that goes with breaking up your family. And so you’re either going to put in the work to make it last and be beneficial for everyone involved. Or you’re not.)

But regardless of how much work you put in or how “normal” you try to make your family, it’s just not the same. And it never will be.

And here is where I say, being in a new relationship doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a single mom anymore. In some situations you might be more comfortable, you might have help, but in almost all cases you will never share the same type of relationship you had before, especially when it comes to your kids.

You can love someone’s kids as much as your own and they can love yours just the same, but your experiences with your kids that started from the first positive pee-stick aren’t shared like they were with someone else.

Your history with this new person starts years later. And eventually, the goal would get to a point where all of those “before” experiences are water under the bridge. But it’s going to be awhile before you get there.

And despite their ability and desire to help, there are just some things that they simply can’t do (or your kids won’t allow them to) that your previous spouse was able to step in and be a part of.

My kids are young, their needs are still ever draining on a parent. I still wipe butts, give baths, cut food into little bite sized pieces, make snacks, tie shoes, get them dressed, open juice boxes, (etc, etc, etc….)

Some of these things, sure, my partner can help with. But so could one of my friends if I needed it that bad, when I was single. Other things? Even if he wanted to, he just can’t.

Any sort of major parenting decisions we weigh as a team, yet…. he’s not their dad. He wasn’t there from the beginning and so oftentimes I find myself doing more explaining than discussing.

He can’t give my kids baths, tuck them in, kiss their boo-boos or do my daughter’s hair. They won’t allow him to. It might be never that he is the someone they feel comfortable with confiding in, so the burden of all of the heavy stuff weighs solely on me. Maybe in time that will change, but for now, it’s mine to bear.

Financially, his job in this family wasn’t to come in and support me and my kids. That’s my job. And they have their own dad. But what if their dad is not contributing like an active and responsible parent? It’s not his responsibility to pick up the slack, that load falls on me too.

If my kid does something I find super quirky and cute, I’ll share it with him. But the reaction I get isn’t the same because he wasn’t there years ago when my older child did something similar and we laughed and laughed.

And the moments that my kids have that used to be endearing reminders of their father, now are terrifying indicators that his genes are still alive and strong within them.

If one of my kids gets sick I’m the one who has to call in to work, not him.

If there are conferences, meetings at school, doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, play dates to be made, birthday parties to plan… he will join in the fun, but he’s not taking care of those things for my children, and he shouldn’t have to. But that doesn’t mean having him around makes my life “easier” as I’ve been told it should.

The discipline is my job, and so is the explosive reaction I get if/when that discipline is met by an angry child. As much as he would like to step in and help sometimes, ultimately, it’s not his place.

So despite not technically being a “single mom” anymore, I find myself still feeling overwhelmed at times. Wishing I could get some help. Some support. And what’s strange is I have it, but it comes in a different form and not one I’m entirely used to (yet).

People don’t seem to understand that just because you have another adult in the house, all of your struggles and responsibilities as a single parent don’t vanish.

Everyone feels and experiences their situations differently. I am starting to think I shouldn’t have been so quick to feel stabby and wronged by the mom claiming to understand my life as a single mom because her husband was absent for a weekend on a business trip. Maybe she was feeling really alone.

Being a single mom, completely raising my kids ALONE was probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Having someone around definitely helps make the days go by faster. I feel less overwhelmed, less tired, less lonely than I did when I was doing this thing all by myself.

I refuse to be a sanctimonious mom that claims I have the same life as a true single mom that is raising her kids completely solo. I’m not. At least not anymore. But as a mom who has done that before and lived to tell about it, I gotta be honest… the way I’m living now with a new partner is (some days) not that far off. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

 

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The Story Behind Why I’m The Asshole At School Pickup

You know that asshole. The one that thinks the rules of the pickup line don’t apply to her. The woman who doesn’t socialize and chat or catch up with other parents while waiting for the bell. The mom that doesn’t allow her kids to stay after school and play at the park with their friends.

The one who’s always in a hurry. The one who pulls in where you’re not supposed to and who’s kids are running and jumping into a moving vehicle because she didn’t get there on time to actually find a parking spot. Yeah, that asshole. Guilty as charged.

A much cooler van than the one I drive

I’m the mom everyone hates at pickup, and frankly, I don’t even care. I have overheard myself being referred to as the “van lady” (as if there aren’t about 79 “van ladies” at an elementary school dismissal), and it was most definitely not a term of endearment.

But now that I have revealed myself, let me explain before everyone comes to my house with pitchforks and burns me at the stake. Because inside the “van lady’s” car, there was a story.

When my son started school I had three kids aged 5, 2, and 1. You know, the really “fun” ages. The ones where no one is sleeping, and one is always whining because they are hungry, tired, their sock seam is tickling their foot, or someone won’t stop “copying them”.

The same year my oldest began Kindergarten, my middle child started preschool and he was the type of child we all (as parents) hope we don’t have when we send them off to school. The child that wails and clings to your leg, that is in hysterics when you have to forcibly hand them over to a new teacher they barely know. The one you hear crying for you after the traumatizing hand-off while you sit in the hallway and pray they will get over this so you can leave and they can actually enjoy their time in school.

I would drop my son off at kindergarten and spend the ride to preschool fielding all of the fake illnesses by my very intelligent and manipulative preschooler in an attempt to stay home and then prep that child repeatedly that we were going, this was happening, and it was going to be okay.

But that wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg that was our home life at the time.

This was also around the period my marriage was falling apart. My ex was no longer living in the house and his absence was starting to spread to all aspects of our family lives. So… I’ll just say it, I was depressed. Life sucked.

I didn’t know it at the time, because I was so focused on taking each day at a time, but I was learning how to be a single mom.

During this time, our lives were upside down. Every day was a new struggle and between regular kid chaos there was court, attorneys, finances to figure out, and confused and sad kids to console. Friends and family that wanted in on the drama or explanations as to why things were coming to an end.

And me, living in hell with a soon-to-be ex who was sick and emotionally unwell. Spreading rumors like wildfire about my personal life to any and all that would listen while simultaneously harassing me as if constant contact and mental abuse and manipulation would force me into submission.  It was an exhausting cycle and if I’m being honest, there were many late nights crying, had by all.

School pickup came every day faster than I expected. I spent the day trying to get affairs in order so I could put my focus on my kids when they came home from school without (hopefully) having to deal with my overwhelming emotions or any legalities.

I would try to get all the tears out while they were gone so I could plaster a smile on my face and pretend everything was okay for the rest of the day, and the school hours would fly by. I would look at the clock, run out the door, grab my kids and rush to do something, anything to keep all of our minds off of what had been going on at home. And then, we would go home to sleep and do it all again the next day.

I wish it were socially acceptable for me to unleash and explain to the parents that referred to me as the “van lady” that my life was an absolute shit show. That me and my kids had cried ourselves to sleep the night before because we were all hurting, struggling, and trying to come to terms with a completely new life none of us had expected. That trying to explain addiction and divorce to a child is damn near impossible, and incredibly heartbreaking.

We had been late because we woke up many times in the night scared, alone, and cuddled up together to fall back asleep. I had barely slept at all some nights because I was the only grown-up in the house and I had trouble killing a spider, who was going to protect us if someone broke in?

I wish I could explain that we were all trying. We all wanted so badly that year to just be “normal”, whatever the hell that is. Had it been reasonable to declare to the world what we had going on inside the “van” I would have shared that we were lonely. We were lost. That my poor kids’ mom was depressed, their dad was struggling with an addiction and their lives had been turned upside down. Divorce was a big deal, but for my family, it wasn’t just separate houses.

I am now trying to strike up conversation with parents during school pickup that have been builing relationships for years. Making “mom friends” is difficult enough as it is, but being the “van mom” and coming out of the woodwork trying to show everyone “hey look at us! I swear we are normal we just had a bad couple of years!” is just freakin pathetic.

Yet, here I am. Smile on my face, abiding by the rules of the pickup line and trying to get there early intentionally so that I can ACTUALLY interact with other parents. I’m just hoping by the end of the year when people are gossiping about me it’s because I’m socially awkward and say inappropriate things at the worst possible times. Legit complaints. And hopefully they will start calling me the “crazy lady” instead of the “van lady”. That’s got a better ring to it anyways, dontcha think?

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5 Things I Learned About Dating Apps – A Cautionary Tale

It’s a harsh reality when you realize your marriage is ending. It’s an even harsher reality coming to terms with the fact that dating has changed LIGHT YEARS since the last time you were on the market.

My biggest fear when entering the dating pool again was, “where in the world do people meet if you don’t go anywhere but preschool, karate, baseball {repeat}?” And “who the hell is going to want me now?”

My body is like a rouge grape you find at the back of your crisper, stretched and dried up again, wrinkly and forlorn. After years of breastfeeding, I have permanent pancake boobs. They literally need to be folded from their flat state into any apparatus to hold them into place, and even then it’s a gamble if they will stay or take a nosedive for my knees before the end of the night. My feet are monstrous after three pregnancies and …. I have a gray hair (or two, or forty, who’s counting?). For years I didn’t want to show my husband my body in all of it’s nakedness and he saw me shoot babies out of my vagina. The thought of getting into my birthday suit in front of a new, strange man? No thanks, I’ll stay abstinent.

Not to mention, my kids are tiny terrorists, I don’t want to admit they are mine to strangers out in public, better yet a person I’m trying to impress enough to keep around for awhile.

Thank God for dating apps, right? WRONG.

As a way to get out of my head and “have some fun” my friend and I decided it would be genius to throw myself into the world of Tinder. Tinder couldn’t be a more user friendly and readily accessible platform that can quickly take your mind off of your current (sad, lonely, depressed) situation in just a few swipes. That guy is HOT!  Swipe right, INSTANT MATCH! This is too easy! Don’t like this guys stupid mustache? Swipe left. He gone. But, that’s about all it’s good for if you ask me.

Eventually, I did find myself a new man. But it wasn’t on a dating app. And I’ll tell you why.

1. People are LIARS – I was one of them. No one in the world is going to come out saying “I’m emotionally damaged and cry alone in the bathroom at least once a day, but if you can pry me off the couch and away from my beloved Netflix family for the night (good lucky, buddy), I might be fun! I don’t know, I haven’t done it in a long time.” Instead, they are going to tell you they are world travelers, hikers, bikers, fitness fanatics, wine enthusiasts, and avid foodies because that is what you want to hear and they want you to give them a chance. I’m sure half of the people I talked to were either robots or using a stock photo for their profile picture while texting away on their phone in their mom’s basement eating Cheetos.

2. Men are CREEPS – I’m just going to say it. Dick pics. No woman (at least not one my age, do younger girls want this? Am I just old?) wants you to open a line of communication with her by sending a picture of your genitalia. I do not care if you think you have the most perfect penis in the world, without seeing it I can already tell you, it’s ugly. That is why adult entertainment geared towards women tends to have men in uniforms, DRESSED in various fantasy roles, maybe shirtless, or maybe in some undies, but def not flailing their bare weiners.  AND – I have kids. I don’t need one of them opening my phone to find some pornographic photo a strange man sent me and dodging questions about why there are “pribates” on my phone. If dick pics are the only way to go for you, send a warning first, and get ready to be instantly rejected. No one wants to see your pee-pee.

3. Men can’t handle rejection. Even on a stupid App – This one weirded me the fuck out. Some men have apparently never been rejected in their lives, not even on the internet. So when they encounter a woman who has zero interest in them, it is evidently impossible for them to come to terms with. So unthinkable, in fact, that they sought me out and demanded an explanation. I disappeared from their chats and that meant, in their minds, it was completely acceptable to find me on social media through mutual friends and order up answers as to why we were suddenly unmatched and why I didn’t want to speak with them. As if this had been some horrible misunderstanding and I would (apologetically) come crawling back to them because they were hand-picked especially for me by the Tinder Gods and stalking was certainly listed in my dating profile as a required characteristic I was seeking. I’m sorry, freaky man I’ve never actually met in real life, I don’t owe you SHIT. This was completely intentional on my part, and although I tried to leave quietly and respectfully in an attempt to let you hold on to your dignity, I’ll let you have it (since you asked and all)…. your dick pic was a fucking nightmare. I’m still having trouble sleeping.

4. Some men on these sites are actually looking for something serious- Nothing wrong with that. Except, I came for the free meal, not to replace my kids daddy with a dude I met online. What’s with the pressure?  Listen guy, I just got over a marriage, and considering it didn’t end well, I’m not in a hurry to re-retain my lawyer and do that whole thang again any time soon. I really shouldn’t even be dating yet according to all of the (remarkably accurate) Facebook quizzes I’ve taken while stuffing my face with pirate booty and watching Gilmore Girls reruns, but hey… I needed dinner and you needed someone to buy dinner for, win-win! But – Oh! The babysitter is calling, gotta go! {{unmatch on the way back to the car}} {{finds me on social media later}}

5. You *might* match with your ex – This was when I gave up on dating apps because clearly they didn’t “get” me. I found him in real life first, Tinder. And it was a fuggin disaster. So thanks for the recommendation, but I think I’m gonna swipe NO FUCKING WAY. I felt so dirty. I needed to brush my teeth and take a shower, stat. And then it hit me….  If I could see him, does that mean he could see ME? OH GAWD.

 

Even if I ever find myself back on the market, I don’t think I could navigate my way back to that shit show again. Not a chance in hell. Nothing in this world made me feel like an old bag more than online dating. It’s a jungle out there, ladies. Good effing luck.

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Mom Transparenting

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