For moms like me, the idea of 50/50 custody was too far from the norm. But there are many positives if you’re open to seeing them.
Many women stay in relationships long past their expiration dates. Of course, you can always see it in someone else’s relationship. In your own relationship, well, hindsight is 20/20. I didn’t even realize that I was one of those women. I fought for my marriage far longer than I should have. I had an image of what I wanted my family to look like and I wasn’t going to let it go without a fight.
I am a mom above all else. Of course, I always had idealistic dreams of what I wanted to be when I grew up. But, remember when they used to ask the question in high school, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” My answer was always the same. “As a mom.” That is who I always have been. Therefore, when my marriage hit a downward spiral, the idea of not seeing my children every single day was enough for me to deal with just about anything that was thrown at me . . . or so I thought.
Eventually, I accepted that divorce was the only option, but I found myself in mourning. Not for my soon-to-be-ex-husband, but for my family. For what I had wanted my family to be. For the life that I wanted my children to have. The idea of a 50/50 custody arrangement was physically unbearable to me. I had been home with my kids for the last three and a half years. My entire life was about them.
The first time that I was away from my children was for 10 days. I slept in their beds, used their blankets, and barely ate. I tried to sleep whenever I could. It was easier to sleep the time away than to stay awake and miss them.
But I knew that I needed to start focusing on the positives and not on the negatives. I was making myself physically sick wallowing in my own misery. I couldn’t continue doing this for myself and for my kids. So, I pulled myself together for the sake of my children.
To my surprise, there are benefits that do come with 50/50 custody! It’s true! I was given a gift. The gift of time! Time to do things that I wanted to do, but which my children were too young to do with me, and time to spend with friends. Not only did I get extra time when the kids went to Dad’s but the time that I got from less housework was amazing. I had less laundry, less dishes, less cooking, less people to pick up after less often. Not only did I have time, but now I didn’t have the worries that came with a babysitter. Every other weekend and two nights a week, I know that my children are being cared for by someone who loves them. Even though I may not always agree with how my ex-husband handles situations with the children, I know they are safe.
I was also given the gift of time with my children. Wait, that doesn’t make sense, does it? But it is true. Before the 50/50 custody agreement, I had more physical time with the kids, but now I had more quality time. When they were with me all the time, sometimes I would put off playing a game or going to the pool in favor of cleaning the house and working. It isn’t that I wanted to do that, but it was necessary. Now, I have time to take care of those chores while they are at their dad’s (well, for the most part). The time that I have with them is almost fully spent with them. We are always off doing something together. Things that once were used to entertain them while I was busy “adulting,” I now get to do with them.
Sure, days and activities might not always line up to my preference, but I have learned to work with what I have. My kids have missed events that I wish they could have experienced with me and I have had my kids during certain events that I would otherwise have liked to attend, but I work with what I have. I would love to have my kids at home, with me, all the time, but I have learned that I am okay when they are at Dad’s, too. I have found plenty to keep me busy!