Separation after kids, does it get easier?
One whole year. It doesn’t sound like a lot and I must admit that it has gone by quickly, yet so much has changed. Last year we were preparing for Christmas as a family and this year we are preparing for Christmas as two.
In the last year, our lives have done a full 360. We’ve had to change living arrangements and driving arrangements. We’ve had to sort through belongings and bank accounts. We’ve had to learn how to not only split the childcare, but also how to co-parent.
Separating when you have children, no matter what the circumstances or reasons, is hard. Very hard.
Over the last year our beautiful little daughter has remained priority number one, no matter what. We’ve tried so hard to remain civil for her. Despite this, it can be difficult not to battle. After all, separation can be hurtful for so many involved.
It’s not just you two who are affected by the separation. There are a lot of bashed feelings, a lot of reactions, a lot of sides being taken, a lot of people whispering in your ear trying to get involved and a lot of vulnerability. How do you deal with this?
Apart from our announcement ‘Stay Together For The Kids‘, I’ve avoided going into too much detail about our separation on Life Unexpected, out of both respect and fear. Respect for my families privacy and fear of admitting to myself how hard this year has been. I fear what people will think of the situation. I fear what people will say and how they will judge how we’ve handled our separation.
There is a lot that we did right in the beginning of being separated and there is a lot that we did wrong. Even now, we’re still working on it together.
Our daughter is so loved. Extremely loved. She is a little bundle of joy. She is clever and she is wise for her age. But she still needs protecting. I often wonder what she thinks about all of this. Every week she gets shipped back and forth between homes. A few days she’s with me. A few days she’s with her dad. But, we haven’t a clue what she thinks about it all.
I don’t know if she remembers a time when we lived together. I don’t know if she’s adjusted yet. I think I’ll forever feel guilty about taking that opportunity away from her. The opportunity to have a mum and a dad together. The opportunity to grow up in a traditional family.
But at what cost, would that traditional family have come at. My happiness? Her dads?
I didn’t have a traditional family growing up and although it was something I never craved, I have always felt a little out of step. My own parents dealt with there separation very differently. Through no ones fault, I have always felt more loved and accepted by one and not the other. I don’t want that for Evie and I’m so glad that she is showered with love both ends.
We have tried to deal with our separation in a very unique way. A way that has made too many people feel the need to comment.
People believe that when you separate you should not get on, that you should not spend family time together, that you should not be in touch.
For the last year we have tried to fight that norm. We decided from the very beginning that we would co-parent and that we would decide on everything to do with Evie, together. We carried on having family days out, we carried on updating each other and keeping in touch in regards to Evie, we carried on trying to parent together despite being apart. We even did the unthinkable and took Evie on her first holiday together.
This would all have been fine, but there is a line. A line that can sometimes be difficult to draw. Both of us are now in new relationships. There are now extra parties that need to fully accept this odd way of remaining close, for Evie’s sake. There are new people that need to accept the blurred lines but at the same time, the feelings of those new people need to also be respected.
It has been a hard year. It has been hard to try and find the right path to follow when it comes to parenting Evie. It’s been hard to try and work out how we can remain civil and friends, when there is still underlying hurt at the destruction of a family unit.
Trying to remain friends for Evie’s sake will take time. We both want it for her, we both want to make this as easy as possible for her. She is the priority. She is the main person we need to make sure is happy, and that’s the final line.
I never want her to grow up with battling parents, with parents who say nasty things about each other or parents that can’t be civil. I want her to grow up with parents who get along, and can participate in her life equally.
I will put my hands up and say now that the hardest part about being separated is missing out on firsts. This will be our first Christmas where we need to discuss where Evie is going to go. One or the other of us is going to miss out on seeing her wake up on Christmas day.
There are going to be other firsts that we miss out on too, all throughout her life and that’s something I’m finding a little bit difficult.
Even now, I still find it hard to let her go on the days she is with her dad. I miss her when she’s gone. I miss hearing her charging around the house, I miss her clambering up for cuddles and to read books and I miss her stubborn ways. I want to know what she’s doing, what she’s experiencing, if she’s ok. I hate that I’m not there with her.
I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that we split up her family. I brought her into this world with the belief that I was bringing her into a family who would be together forever. We never intended to break that. We didn’t realise that we would get to a stage where we weren’t happy anymore.
But, life is unexpected. Feelings are unexpected. Situations are unexpected. Sometimes relationships just don’t work out, no matter how much you want them to, no matter how much you try. Sometimes you are better off not being together, than being together.
My feelings are still all over the place. There are days, weeks, months where I feel like I’ve got this in regards to co-parenting. Then there are days where I crumble into a heap on the floor.
We are both so happy in our new relationships. We are both so happy with our daughter. But, it’s a strange feeling being separated. It’s a strange feeling dropping your daughter off to another home. There is a void that can’t quite be filled.
Will it ever get easier?
As the saying goes, time heals all wounds, but I honestly don’t know if separation ever gets easier. The difficulties just change along the way. For us, at the moment, one year later both feels normal and odd at the same time. Each week, each exchange gets easier, but it still doesn’t feel right. It still feels like there is a long journey ahead.
Will there still be challenges?
I have no doubt about it. We don’t know if we’re always going to agree. We don’t know what different opportunities and life changes there are awaiting us. Every big milestone in the future that affects us as individuals will in turn affect our daughter and our parenting. What if one of us wants to move abroad? What if one of us has another child or gets married? What if one of us has a job that takes us to a different part of the country?
Separation is not easy, on either party. It takes a long time to adjust and each situation is completely unique. Trying to remain friends is deemed impossible by many. But, for the sake of our daughter and our families, I really hope we can prove everybody wrong.
Have you separated from your partner after having children? Have you found it gets easier?