It is very difficult for a divorced parent to wake up in the morning to an empty house. As parents, we spend most of our lives complaining about all the hard work, the lack of sleep, the lack of peace and quiet, the problems, the multi-tasking… But not a single one of us would have it any other way.
A parent’s decision to divorce is one that is usually made over a period of years and one that is not made lightly at all. There are many repercussions to “ending” a relationship; one is that it never really ends when children are involved. More importantly, one’s children are directly affected by the divorce of their parents. While weighing the pros and cons of divorce, the best one can do is put the children’s interests above one’s own. Many people come to the realization that their children will suffer more from their parents’ unhealthy marital relationship or from living with unhappy parents than they would suffer from their divorce.
That does not mean there isn’t any suffering involved. It is DAMNED difficult afterwards.
Divorced parents watch their children hop between parents’ homes on a weekly basis. It is destabilizing for the children and destabilizing for the parents. Eventually a routine is found, but that doesn’t mean the struggle ends.
There’s nothing like a home full of rowdy children suddenly growing lifeless by their absence. It’s nice only when the parent knows it’s temporary, like when the kids are out with friends or at school. As long as you know they will be back, it’s all right to relish in some down time. But once this becomes a more permanent condition, it’s painful. In a parent’s mind, the only thing that makes a home a home is the presence of their children in it.
Most difficult are the decisions divorced parents need to make to prioritize their children’s needs when the results of those decisions directly clash with the parent’s needs. A parent needs his/her children to live with him/her. It’s not only that the children need both parents. The need is mutual. But just as children need both their parents, they also need routine and a stable life. This most frequently means they will end up spending more time with one parent as opposed to the other.
That other parent suffers. It’s miserable. The home is no longer a home. The noises one has become accustomed to that indicate life are no longer present. The constant nagging and yelling and fighting and laughing and not-doing-what-you’re-supposed-to-be-doing is no longer there. There is a huge emptiness. The house is clean. The toilet is always flushed and there’s no pee on the toilet seat. The beds are made. The kitchen is spotless. It’s miserable. No parent should have to experience that. Divorced parents do. And they have to convince themselves that their child’s need for stability is more important than the parent’s need for their child to be with them always.
I’ve never felt our decision to divorce was a wrong decision. In our case and in the case of countless other couples it was the better of the bad options we had. This blog post is not an open invitation to some of you cruel people out there to give me a lecture on the evils of divorce. Anyone who divorces knows there are evils. But we also know that sometimes staying together is worse than being apart. No. This blog post is about sharing the post-divorce experience. People don’t talk enough about the things they go through. Sometimes knowing what to expect prepares you for the difficult times. Sometimes knowing that other people are feeling what you feel makes the hard times just that tiny little bit easier. Being a child of divorce sucks. I know this from my own experience as a child of divorce. Being a divorced parent sucks as well. This blog post is dedicated to both my parents. I understand your hardships. This blog post is dedicated to all those divorced parents out there trying to do the best they can for their children even when that means it’s not necessarily the best thing for themselves.