Monday, April 22, 2013

Telling Lila

Now that I finally have a place to go and I will be moving, we had to come out and tell the kid that we are going to split. 

For weeks I dreaded having to tell her because I thought that she would be totally devastated and damaged by the news and that she would hate me because I am the one moving out of the family home.  I literally spent days having extreme panic attacks knowing that she was going to be traumatized and would never be the same after we broke it to her.

The day came on Friday.  We were getting ready for dinner and I pointed out to Ben that the move is less than 2 weeks away and we did want to give her a little time (but not too much time) to let it sink in so that she could ask questions and be prepared for seeing me pack boxes and pick out paint colors.  And I told Ben that he was going to have to be the one to actually say the words to her because I didn't think I could keep it together long enough to get it out. 

We sat down and he told her we had to have a family discussion.  Then he simply said, "Mommy and I have decided that it would be best for everyone if we lived in separate places..."  He tried to tell her that I am moving upstairs from Grandma and that she will spend plenty of time with both of us but she was lost in her emotions.

She burst into tears.  She hugged me and cried and said that she didn't want to move and that she didn't want me to leave.  She told us that she loved that house and that she wanted us to stay together.  It was seriously the worst, most heartbreaking moment of my entire life.  I mean, what do you do when you know your kid is hurting and it's your fault and you can't do anything to make it better?

I tried my best to stay calm but the tears rolled down my face.  I wanted to tell her to forget it.  That we made a mistake and things would just stay the way they are but I couldn't.  Because even though a part of me really wants to do that and pretend that everything is fine, I know that in the long term everyone will be better off this way.

We sat and attempted to explain to her that she isn't leaving the house and that she isn't exactly moving but as a 5 year old she cannot quite grasp the idea that she will be able to spend equal time with both of us.  The questions ranged from the logical (What if I am with Daddy and I want Mommy?) to the totally random (What if my bedroom misses me when I am gone?).

That night at bedtime she told me she was going to ask me exactly 4 questions about it and that was it.  So she formulated 4 things that she deemed important.  She asked if she was going to go to the same school.  "Yes," I said.   She asked if she could bring some of her things over.  "Of course," I said.  She asked what would happen if Daddy really missed her when she was with me.  "That's what we have telephones and Skype for,"  I said. 

Then she asked if we could get a kitten.  My kid already knows how to milk a situation for all it's worth.  Talk about timing.  How could I say no when I had just totally ruined her life, right?  "We'll see,"  I said.  And that was good enough for her. 

In the following days she talked about it surprisingly little and when I tried to bring it up she just kind of ignored me.  I am going to let her lead on this one.  I figure that once she starts to see the boxes and hears the talk about the move that she will ask more questions.  But she seems far from damaged and distraught.  In fact, she seems downright NORMAL by all standards.  Is it possible that she may be okay after all?  That she will survive this whole process, perhaps a little worse for wear but mostly okay?  As a parent that is all that I am asking for. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

F*ck F*ck F*ck Splitting

I don't know if I am going to be able to handle this.  With my move being imminent I am beginning to panic at the thought of sharing custody of Lila.  I don't want to have her half of the time.  I want her all the time. 

The idea that I will become a part time parent is soul crushing to me.  I never envisioned that my life would be like this, 35, starting all over with my kid gone half the time.  And there is no compromise.  He would be just as devastated without her.  But this means that I have to give her up HALF of the time.

I realize that I am lucky.  Her father is devoted and responsible and loves her to death.  He would take her full time if I would let him.   

Part of me thinks that this is a terrible idea.  Schlepping back and forth from mom's house to dad's house and back again will make her uneasy and she will not have a sense of "home" because her time is split.  All the things that I have been reading point to this as a possibility and I am afraid of this being too stressful an arrangement for her. 

But how do I convince her father of this?  He doesn't want to be the parent who sees her on weekends.  He doesn't want to be the parent who misses her.  He is the eternal optimist who believes that as long as we keep telling her that this is the best thing for everyone that she will not miss a beat and will be perfectly fine with the split, however we decide to do it.

I am just not convinced.  I know my kid.  I have read all the books and talked to numerous friends who have either gotten divorced or come from divorced homes.  Most agree that a kid needs a "home base" to relax and keep the majority of her stuff.  They have also reminded me that it is going to be hard on her no matter what.  And the truth is, even if I think it would be best for her to spend most of her time with one or the other of us, which is the parent who misses out?  Is it me, who is the one leaving?  Wouldn't she think I left her? 

Or do I ask him to take the back seat?  He who is the one who gets her ready for school every day and keeps her amused so that mommy can have quiet time after work? 

Part of me (the part that only wants what is best for her no matter how much it hurts) believes that if I was truly selfless I would let him take her more.  Only because I know he would never be willing to let me in any way diminish his role in her life.  And the idea of her believing I somehow bowed out and was willing to see her less than every day is agonizing for me. 

The biggest concern I have (and the thing that is going to break my heart) is her collection of 20+ stuffed kitties.  They all sleep with her every night and she refuses to sleep at anybody's house unless she can bring a number of them with her.  Where will she keep her kitties?  And how will we transport them when we hand off after school?  I am sick just thinking that this is going to stress her out.  Because I am positive that it will.

Again, I ask you for your thoughts. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Another thing that sucks

We're splitting up.

After 8 years and God knows how many months of unhappiness, we have decided to call it quits.

I have to say, my feelings about it are mixed.

As many of you know, we are not married.  In many ways this is a blessing because we avoid all the complicated legal stuff and get to just part ways in a somewhat amicable way.  It is also perfect for him because everything is in his name so anything I take with me, I do so because he was kind enough to "let" me have it.  This part really sucks.

As the house is his, I am the one moving out.  I am moving into my parents' second floor flat.  I figure that this will make the transition slightly easier for the kid.  There are a lot of pros and cons to this, including that my mother will be downstairs (both a pro for support and a con because you've read my blog), but I have decided that it is the best move for me to make financially and practically, if not emotionally.  Everything in this house will stay here as Lila will be spending a lot of her time here and he is not willing to give me much of anything.  This means that I have to figure out how I will furnish an apartment on a part-time income until I can find a full time job.

The car is also in his name.  He has not agreed to sign the car over to me even though he told me it was a gift when I was pregnant because he has some plan to trade it and his work truck in for a new work/play vehicle.  He has told me I can "use" it for a few months until I can get something.  I say fuck him and keep working on him giving me the car as I feel it is the least he can do.

The worst part of this whole thing is that I have not yet told the kid.  My feeling is that we wait until a week or two before the move happens so that she doesn't have too much time to worry and she has a little time to ask questions and be reassured.  I dread this conversation.

Lila loves having us all together.  She makes a point to force us into the same room to be with her and insists on doing things like grocery shopping together.  I worry that she is going to fall apart and always cry for the other parent when she is with either one of us.  I worry that she will lose that trusting happy-go-lucky personality and feel like her whole world was turned upside down.  I worry that she will never forgive us.

I came from a household where my parents stayed together just for the kids' sake and remember knowing how miserable and angry they were all the time.  I don't want to do this to her.  But coming from an intact family means that I have no idea what to expect from her in the weeks and months after the split.  I don't know how long she will need to adjust or when I should expect her to stop crying to go "home".

I am not completely convinced that this is the right thing for HER even though I know it is the right thing for her father and I, and even though everyone seems to say that splitting up is better than staying together miserable. I just don't know that this will prove to be the case.

I would like to hear from any of  you who have had the experience of splitting with small children.  How did you get through it?  How did THEY handle it?