My marriage is over. My husband and I live in separate houses in different towns with a rotating schedule of who has our son and when. There are daily phone calls and FaceTimes to say goodnight and to tell the other parent about our son’s day at school. There are conversations about Mama and Dada not living together anymore, but how both parents still love and adore him more than anything else in this entire world. Then there are conversations about zombies, because he has the attention span of Dory from “Finding Nemo,” so he moves on quickly.
There is still joint time with him, too. My ex and I believe our son should still have time with his parents together, and, fortunately, we get along well enough to do this. We go to the movies or the playground all together, giving our son a few hours with both his parents. We try to show him that even though Mama and Dada may not live together or be together with him all the time, we still care for and respect each other and will always strive to model that.
My new normal
I don’t know how I would have reacted a year ago if a fortune teller had tried to warn me that divorce was in my future. I probably would have called her a nasty name and told her to stop lying. Well, in my head I would have. In real life, I probably would have just burst into tears. But she would have been right, and I would have still ended up here.
Most of the time, though, I’m honestly not even sure what “here” is. There are parts of my life that haven’t changed at all. I still have to go to work. I have to lesson plan and go to meetings and make sure my students and staff are where they are supposed to be at the right times. Then there are parts that have changed somewhat. I still have to pick my son up from daycare. I just don’t do it every day anymore. On nights he’s with his father, I don’t show up at his school to get him from the playground or his partner classroom. That’s the start of his time with Dada. Clothes still need to be washed. But I have two people to wash for now instead of three.
And then some things are very different. Two days a week now, I bring my son to school — something I never really did before on days I had to go to work. I am very fortunate that I could arrange it with my colleague for my students to be covered while I drop my son off at 7 a.m., and I arrive at school a little after the first period of the day starts.
Most of the time, I’m OK
I can’t quantify how well I’m doing right now. I think that, for the most part, I’m handling things pretty well. I’m eating, I’m sleeping, I’m still laughing and making others laugh. There are stretches, though, sometimes minutes, sometimes hours, where things are hard. I slipped last night in my dining room, and it took me a few minutes to get up. I worried about how it would affect my night with my son. I was fine — sore, but fine — but got a little nervous for a minute that I was really hurt. I know I could have called my mom or even my ex (and I know he would have come, because he offered when our son called him to say goodnight) if I really needed help. But the worried thoughts, however fleeting, were still there, even if it was just for 30 seconds.
I got up, though, and my night carried on. I made my son dinner and gave him a bath. We snuggled in his bed and watched a movie before he went to sleep. He kissed me goodnight and told me how much he loved me and told me he took such good care of me when I hurt myself. I agreed, because even though I still made him dinner and gave him his bath, he does take care of me in a lot of ways. He’s my little boy, and even though his life, my life, and my ex’s life are in a state of upheaval, he is our main focus and he helps keep us grounded.
I still love my ex. And I firmly believe I always will. I also know my ex still loves me, and I believe him when he says he always will. Right now, we’re just figuring out what that love looks like as co-parents and friends, not as a couple anymore. We’re still learning and growing and changing from all this, and I don’t know if we ever will stop. I have no idea what “normal” is ever going to look like for the three of us. I just know we’re working on it together.