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Divorce is A Shit Sandwich

(Because it is, right?!)

Thoughts on An Awesome Weekend With My Kids 💕

This week I have been thinking about the relationship I have with my grown-up kids, 24-year-old twins, Hannah and Max. They both live far from home now, but I was lucky enough to get the three of us together for a weekend recently and I’ve been collecting my thoughts to share with all of you who are also single parenting after divorce.

There are, of course, so many things about being a single parent that are stressful and hard – we know that list and deal with those things every day. For this post I want to focus instead on the less discussed upsides of being a single parent – especially of older kids. I hope this will give you something to look forward to if you’re not there yet, and if you are, I hope it might help you reframe and give yourself credit for all your hard work. Here are some takeaways that I found helpful, and I hope you will as well.

First, I found myself saying over and over, “it was worth it.”  And I mean that in the broadest way possible. Everything you’re doing: the messy mornings, the exhausting evenings, the homework sessions, sports practices, playdates, lunch packing, stress soothing, biting your tongue, having the hard conversations, arguments over clothes, electronics, video games, grades, friends, school plays and all the rest of it, is worth it. That’s clear as day now that I can take a shower anytime I want, and no one is calling for a snack just as I get into a groove with work. But if you’re still in it, and it feels endless – or, if you are afraid of what it will be like not to be needed 24/7 – know that kids’ needs change, but they don’t go away. One the many reasons the relationship with my kids is so enjoyable now is because it’s more of two-way street. I’m blessed that they call just to chat, are interested, and engaged with their family, and are ethical and hardworking. On my good days, I believe the work from those early years helped to shape them into the amazing people they are now, but other times I’m completely convinced they made it despite me. I try hard not to stay in that place because I know it doesn’t serve me, and I can’t change it. But I think it’s important to be honest that it’s something I struggle with. I read an article recently, “A Letter to my Children as I Learn to Love Myself: I’m Sorry.” In it, Michelle Schafer starts by saying, “To my children, I’m sorry for the unhealed parts of me that may have hurt you. It was never a lack of love for you – only a lack of love for myself.” Those two sentences took my breath away. She said so beautifully a thought I have struggled to articulate for years. I’ll borrow those words to share with them that as parents with a full heart and dreams of their ideal childhood, I still (unintentionally!) brought my own triggers, scars, and hopes to the relationship. I was not blessed at the time with insight about what I brought to parenting and how it impacted my choices. 

I’m so grateful that they’re old enough now to know I don’t want to make excuses, but instead to provide perspective I hope will be valuable for all of us, and that they may use one day as parents themselves.

In my marriage I worked hard to do everything I thought I was “supposed” to. I had good intentions, and no one made me do anything. But I allowed myself to stay stuck, believing I would be fine if I just took care of everyone else. In navigating divorce, I learned that loving myself was the only real way to be the parent and person I wanted to be, and part of that is accepting that our kids also have to go through that same process, but on their own time.

And that means that I am not able or required to fix every challenge the kids face. It isn’t easy – I don’t think I did this well at all when the kids were young, and even now my instinct is often to offer solutions. But I know it’s not too late to do a better job of listening and just holding space for them.

On the flight home I was sad to leave but deeply grateful to be part of the process as these exceptional people find their paths. Being twenty-something these days isn’t easy. It’s a tough world and they face a lot of stress and difficult choices, but I know my most important role is to offer unconditional love and support. (And maybe an opinion or two, but I’ll try to wait until I’m asked.)

Do you have a tough question? Ask away. I’ll find the right experts to weigh in and make sure you’re getting the input you need.

Q: My ex asked for a one-time change in the parenting plan so she could take the kids to an event they want to attend, but it means I’d get them a day later than normal. Should I agree?

A: Without all the details, my inclination is to say yes. Here’s why:

  • First, if this is something the kids want to attend, and that’s important to your ex, is there a good reason, other than the timing, to say no? If you’re feeling left out can you shift your perspective and focus on the fact that your kids are getting to do something special that they’ll enjoy?
    • As an aside, can you use the time to do something you’ll enjoy as well? Make plans with a friend, start that new book, or anything else that will feel like you also benefitted from your flexibility?
  • There will probably be a time when you will request a change to the parenting plan. If you’ve set a cooperative tone it’s more likely to be reciprocated when you need it.
  • Finally, remember you’re doing this for the kids. Any opportunity to reduce stress and keep things as “normal” as possible, is worth seriously considering.

If you still feel conflicted, write about it! Try sorting through the pros and cons on paper and let yourself sit with your thoughts. This is a great opportunity to show up as that best self we keep talking about, and to go back to your divorce goals.

Do your goals make your decision any clearer? For help writing and sticking to clear divorce goals, download my free workbook HERE.

Here I’ll share some of the books, websites, podcasts and experts to help make your journey a little less shitty!

Last week I shared that I have created a new, free script template to help you respond to those who are trying to manage your divorce. I’ve gotten such a positive response, and requests for additional scripts, especially around talking to kids about divorce. 

Are there other scripts you’d like to see?  Let me know what you’re looking for as I work on the next round. I’d love your input!

I am a corporate communications VP turned Certified Divorce Coach, and I created the Better Than Before Divorce™️  program for those early in the divorce process who want to reduce the impact of divorce on themselves and their children, minimize conflict and come out BETTER on the other side. Throughout my career I have worked to help executives, teams and individuals communicate succinctly, with clarity, intention, and impact, and I love using these skills to provide support and confidence to women and men tangled in the web of divorce.

My Better Than Before Divorce™️ clients benefit from my 25+ years of experience in crisis communications, branding and marketing, as well as my calm strength and commitment to tangible results. I am also a trained mediator, I’ve completed Colorado’s Collaborative Divorce Level I and II trainings, and I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an M.S. in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania.

I hope you found this information useful. Please share your feedback HERE anytime, and visit the rest my website, betterthanbeforedivorce.com, for more information on private coaching, or the Better Than Before Divorceonline course.