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August 11, 2010

Yesterday LOD took the kids on a trip to see his extended family up in New England for 11 days.

We have it written into our settlement agreement that each of us is allowed to take the kids for a summer vacation of a certain number of consecutive days, and that we’re supposed to schedule these with each other by May 15, and there’s some mechanism for who trumps if we both want the same day.

(ZOMG the settlement-writing process is exhausting. It’s worse than planning a wedding, because at least if you pick the wrong tablecloths it’s only for one day. If you pick some innocuous detail for the settlement agreement that you don’t fully explore the ramifications of, you could be stuck with some weird game of Twister WITH YOUR KIDS until the youngest one turns 21.)

We’re lucky, though, because we’re both really into getting the kids out of the city as much as possible, so we each let the other one take the kids on trips whenever we can. This year we just called months, so I took them places in July and he took them places in August. Including this 11-day trip.

I don’t like that they’re going to be gone for 11 days. I’m going to miss them like crazy, and I’m going to get lonely, and even the ability to go out every single night for 11 days isn’t going to make up for that.

This is how I predict it’s going to go for me:

Day 1 (today): My mom’s still in town, so we’ll have a nice dinner and long talk and not have to censor what we say for little ears.
Day 2: My mom will have left, so I’ll crank up the Throwback Jamz cable TV music channel and eat chocolate pudding for dinner.
Day 3: Out with friends. Woo-hoo! I am totally the Gay Divorcee.
Day 4: Wake up, late. Go out and get coffee and a scone and sit in the park and read a book. Feel free and on top of the world (despite mountain of laundry I’m ignoring). Around noon start missing the kids. Do apartment stuff, and mountain of laundry. Wish it was college football season. Realize at 9 pm that I haven’t seen anyone else all day and that’s not good.
Day 5: Wake up, disoriented, because there’s no one playing video games or watching Penguins of Madagascar. Go to church and get all weepy during the songs because I miss the kids. Talk to everyone at coffee hour just for the interaction. Go home and take a nap and realize taking a nap is good. Watch DVR’d eps of Phineas & Ferb while I eat dinner alone.
Day 6: Get to work early. Work work work. Stay at work late. Stay stay stay. When I get home there will be no party at the top of the tree, and no one will like my hat.
Day 7: Get to work early. Meet friends and stay out late. Fun is good. I can do this!
Day 8: Drag in to work. Meet friend after work but go home early because I really can’t go out and party two school nights in a row anymore.
Day 9: Leave for work trip. Those aren’t pillows.
Day 10: Work in a strange city. No time to miss kids because I’m not at home anyway.
Day 11: Return from work trip. See kids. Finally. They will be more excited about seeing the cats than about seeing me, and they won’t understand why I’m crying.

Also, I think LOD is insane for taking them on a trip this long. I predict that by Day 5 he’ll be wishing he could have just one solitary 30-minute stretch in which he wasn’t being elbowed, listening to the plot of either a book or video game R’s seen or book or movie or video game R’s planning on writing or some kind of fart joke, reapplying sunscreen for the fifth time that day, or answering questions about spaceship aerodynamics while he’s using the restroom.

But here’s the thing: I think both LOD and I have great memories of long, lazy summer vacations with relatives, in which we just got to have fun and hang. I know both of us want to replicate that for our kids, so they don’t have the pressure of quick 2-day visits in which they don’t get to just be. So we each suck it up–either the loneliness or the unrelenting on-duty-ness–when we’re on one side or the other.

I actually find it easier this way than I did back when we were together and we were trying to do the Long Lazy Vacation thing as a group. One of us always had special memories of the place, and the other just never got what was so great about it. It was like taking the Proustian madeleine and having to justify the butter and sugar in it to someone on the MacDougall diet. And we were both exhausted at the same time, but neither could admit it without looking weak, and we were never able to really give each other a break. Now, at least, we each have a complaint that’s acknowledged as legitimate. And our kids get to share our special childhood places with only pleasure and no justification.

Still, 11 days is going to be long.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2010 11:32 am

    It’s so comforting to read this; at the end of this month I will go 10 days without seeing my daughter. It DOES help to imagine her having fun with relatives.

    And I couldn’t agree more that it’s much, MUCH easier than when we were taking vacations together. For BOTH parties.

  2. August 11, 2010 11:52 am

    Your Go Dog Go reference made me laugh out loud. For reals.

  3. August 11, 2010 1:20 pm

    “It was like taking the Proustian madeleine and having to justify the butter and sugar in it to someone on the MacDougall diet.”

    Nailed it!

  4. August 11, 2010 5:17 pm

    Last month, my kids were with their dad for two weeks which I allowed to turn into three. They had a ball, and though I know they missed me, I think it was harder on me.

    You’re not kidding about the settlement-writing process. Exhausting. I’ve never felt closer to a padded room (hell, I’d go there by choice some days) than during this process.

  5. Bella permalink
    August 11, 2010 6:03 pm

    How refreshing to have two adults actually act like adults when it comes to raising their children seperately togeather. Your children are major winners in this scenario as well as the two of you.

  6. August 11, 2010 10:52 pm

    My ex recently took the kids for two and a half weeks to a trip back home to see his family (and new girlfriend blech). I missed them like crazy! When they were due home I sat in front of the window for hours.

    You’ll be great! Hang in there.

  7. August 11, 2010 10:59 pm

    Eleven days is rough. That’s the longest I’ve gone without my girls. Seven days is about my limit.

  8. August 12, 2010 1:58 pm

    I’m on day 12 of 15 now so I feel your pain.

    I’ve only just discovered this blog but I will follow it with much interest. My own divorce was nearly 8 years ago and we are in a similar situation to yours – two children, we live very close, coparent well with 50/50 joint custody based on a mediated agreement that we only follow when we can’t agree on “best interests of the children.” It CAN be done. If only more people would!

  9. lizneust permalink
    August 12, 2010 9:57 pm

    I think this an amazing thing you are doing – both the exercise and the fact that you are doing it together. Brava! Bravo! I’m not divorced and I hope I never will be, but I bet there are things I can learn as a parent by reading what the two of you have to say. So thank you.

  10. August 13, 2010 9:41 am

    I only know LOD a little bit, and look forward to getting to “know” you through your writing. In the words of that red-headed scamp, Annie, “I think I’m gonna like it here.” I’m hoping this new venture not only is cathartic and liberating, but also a great message to your kids that there is life, and humor, after divorce.

    Oh, what’s that sound I hear? It’s Simon & Schuster knocking on your door. This is destined to be a great book.

    PS: Watch this past weeks “Louie” on FX, it’s about his week without his kids. Darklarious.

  11. Sarah permalink
    August 13, 2010 11:59 am

    I just discovered this blog today after reading about it in an article in the globe and mail. I am recently divorced and working on making coparenting successful. Your site is like a godsend! It is so comforting to know that others go through the same challenges and that my kids are going to be ok…for a brief second I almost stopped feeling guilty….almost.

  12. AmyinTexas permalink
    August 13, 2010 4:49 pm

    Mine just got back from 2 weeks in Mexico with their dad and grandparents. Because we’ve been divorced for 4.5 years, I’ve gotten used to the long stretch during the summer without them (and there’s that pesky 3rd child to keep entertained while his “bubber” and “sissy” are gone).

    What got me this summer, though, was that I found out their grandparents were allowing them to do things that from a safety perspective I would NEVER let them do. And as I don’t feel like I can confront my former in-laws, I am either going to have to suck it up or try to cajole my ex into doing it (which he won’t do). So, if you need some future blog fodder, feel free to address how one parent deals with the “relaxed safety standards” while the kids are in the care of the other parent.

    Btw, congrats on all the press!!

  13. Belle permalink
    August 14, 2010 9:41 pm

    I’m so happy to find this blog – my soon-to-be ex and I have been co-parenting 50/50 for almost a year, and I couldn’t be more pleased (or relieved) by how well it’s going. While anger (his) was a big issue in our marriage, it hasn’t been since our separation, in large part due to mediation (not adversarial divorce attorneys) and our mutual desire to do right by the kids. This certainly isn’t what I would have wished for… but I’m so much happier on my own, I’m not walking on eggshells anymore, the kids are doing well, and my ex is a great dad. I’m looking forward to reading your blog.

  14. Rachel permalink
    August 16, 2010 1:16 pm

    I have a question……..Do you call the kids while their away on vacation? I called mine everyday just to say goodnight and tell him Ilove him while he was on vacation with his dad. Do you feel this is intruding on “their” time??

  15. askmoxie permalink*
    August 16, 2010 1:46 pm

    Rachel, I do call them, but not every day. I usually don’t call until at least the third day (because I don’t call on the normal three days they’re with their dad, figuring it’s his time with them). I also don’t call when I’m missing them especially–I know I can’t keep myself emotionally neutral on the phone and I don’t want to make them responsible for my feelings of sadness while they’re gone. So sometimes I don’t call at the moments I most need to (for myself) so I don’t put it on them, and then I end up missing them more.

    • Rachel permalink
      August 17, 2010 1:49 pm

      Thank You! I’m with you and definitely don’t call when I’m missing him the most. I try to keep it short, and let him tell what he wants, rather than prodding him. The difference between my situation and yours is that my son is with me 75% of the time, which breaks my heart at times. I so try to encourage time with his dad, so with what little he has I guess I should be better at giving them some interrupted time. Thank you for your insight. On another note, I’m very excited about you and LOD opening up about co-parenting. Thank You.

  16. Ryan permalink
    August 23, 2010 4:58 pm

    This is the strangest blog I have ever seen. I am recently divorced. My wife and I cannot even speak to one another. It doesn’t help that she has a borderline personality disorder and I am conflict-phobic. How in the hell do you guys do this without snarky little remarks back-and-forth, and aren’t your significant others (partners) now in your life a little worried that you are ‘keeping the flame going’ with this blog?

    • anonforthis permalink
      August 24, 2010 10:17 pm

      Ryan – I think the biggest difference is that you are dealing with someone with whom CO-parenting is almost never possible. Check out resources on BPD and PARALLEL-parenting to help you muddle through. There are some really good resources out there.

      My DH has a BPD ex wife, and while I appreciate and read with great interest LOD, Moxie and this here experiment, what they are attempting here is fantasy in my world.

      Good luck in finding a path that works for you!

      • Ryan permalink
        August 26, 2010 4:56 pm

        AnonForThis – Thanks much. If you are willing, please share those resources. I would be interested in what you have read that has helped those you know.

  17. Lisa permalink
    November 11, 2010 7:03 pm

    “And we were both exhausted at the same time, but neither could admit it without looking weak, and we were never able to really give each other a break.”

    That just makes me sad to read. Must have been so hard to be together but not feel like someone had your back. Sounds very lonely.

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