Submitted by Delaine
“My ex-husband took the kids for the first time this weekend. And my heart is so heavy.”
This message awaited me from a newly-divorcing friend on Facebook this morning. She was floundering, her free time only reminding her how empty and confused she felt.
I read her message with a tight chest: I remember…
Almost three years ago my own divorce journey began and my-ex started taking our three kids for sleepovers. I remember the ‘surrealness’ of the First Time: carefully packing their clothes, writing out a list of activities and reminders, reassuring my kids with the biggest, fake smile ever: “You’re going to have so much fun with daddy!”
And then ‘he’ was at the door, lurking in the foyer, not invited in, but here to do ‘pick up.’ Me explaining a few things from the list, my voice too cheery, him not looking at me, while little feet scrambled around to put on shoes and jackets, The tearful hugs goodbye, again more reassurances, that over-happy voice I used calling out “Bye! I love you!” Standing in the doorway, watching my kids walk away, waving and smiling as if they were going out for ice cream.
Then, stepping back into the house – into silence. A silence so eerie I felt I’d landed on a different planet. I put away dishes and paced around. I noticed every toy, every belonging of my children. Here it was – the free time I never had as a single mom. But it felt empty – ominous. Oh my God, this is really happening. And I buckled to the floor in tears.
I’d naively thought that making the final decision to divorce would be the hardest part of the journey – it had taken me years to swallow that choice. But of course, divorce is not a decision but a process, one full of many ‘firsts’ that eat you up inside: like the ex taking the kids for the first sleepover. Those first times are first steps, followed by second steps and thirds. And oftentimes, without warning, you take two steps backwards…back into pain, back into the heartache from which there seems no escape or cure.
I sat down at my computer in a frenzied state of purpose: my girlfriend, my fellow warrior, had fallen on her path in the Wilderness of divorce. And even though I knew that she, and only she, could navigate her way out of that hellhole, I knew she needed me – someone a bit further along the path – to help her regain her footing.
How did YOU find your first time without kids? What have you done to help a transitioning friend?
Divorced Mom Has The S-E-X Talk With Her Sons