Some of us have been friends since childhood, some high school or college. For many of us, our friendships began when our first borns were off to school. We got our kids together, enjoyed lunch dates, had girls nights out, book clubs and on Saturday nights we got sitters and with husbands in tow, headed out for food, drinks and if we were lucky, music.
We discussed our kids, schools, parents, siblings, each other and our husbands. There is no better place to complain about your husband being an idiot than when surrounded by girlfriends. Unless it’s more than just him being an idiot. Unless it’s serious, life-changing, family-breaking apart serious. Then it’s not funny. And if you are keeping it a secret there is no place worse to be, than surrounded by girlfriends you can’t talk to.
I was quietly miserable and getting worse by the day. In the beginning my ex and I kept plans we had. We would go meet you at the Mexican restaurant and when we said goodbye we hopped in a cab and headed home. Except once we paid the babysitter and she left, my husband left too. Left to go to his apartment down the block. I didn’t want to hurt any of your feelings, so I kept plans as long as I could. Until the farce became too much so I stopped accepting invitations and started making excuses. I knew it hurt some of your feelings. I tried to tell you that sometimes people have things going on and it has nothing to do with you. I tried to let you know that my cancelling was not personal. I tried to test the waters and was met with waves. No marriage is a piece of cake, and it became clear that my mere suggestion of actually breaking-up was something some were not ready to hear. So, I stayed quiet and eventually the calls stopped coming, and finally, requests for dates ceased.
I know you all have your own s**t going on. Losing jobs, marriages in trouble, substance abuse, kids with issues that keep you up at night, a sick father, a narcissistic mother and difficult siblings. You might be depressed, have an extra 20 lbs. You’ve been struggling with or can’t make your mortgage payment. Walking through the end of my marriage and rebuilding my life has been my s**t. My issues aren’t bigger or smaller; it’s not a contest.
You can’t truly know something unless you live it, but I’m going to try and get you as close to my reality as I can.
Sharing custody is a tug of war. Half of my time I am with my kids. Solo. It is a joy to be with them, and I would rather them with me than not. But, imagine your husband being away permanently. Have you ever made a fuss when your man goes away for a long weekend with the boys? Imagine it’s permanent. Never having him to help with anything physically or emotionally. My ex and I discuss schedules and activities, but rarely do we get to talk about our kids’ development, needs and emotions. The things you worry about, that you discuss at night after the kids go to bed, these are things that I worry about all night long, on my own.
Physically, every moment I am with my kids I am on 100 percent. This is the case when all is well, this is the case when the kids are sick, and this is the case when I am sick.
The other half the time I am alone. The first after many days with them is nice, I need the time to breathe and regroup. Then, very quickly nice passes and I miss them. I didn’t have kids to only be with them 50 percent of the time. I want to go to the movies with you and your kids on Saturday night. There are mornings that get out of control, and as my kids get out of the car and run into school, I hate myself since I know we won’t see each other for two days. I carry the weight of that bad morning for 48 hours until I can see them again. I want to watch football on Sundays or just give my son a hug on a Thursday night. There are times I drop my kids off at their dad’s, and I cry in the car on the way home. It’s been five years and I still cry.
I live in a constant state of feast or famine. I am overfull or underfed. All. The. Time.
Vacations — they can suck too. My kids are missing their dad, and I feel guilty when I don’t feel like throwing the football and diving into the ocean to catch it. It’s all round challenging to manage a vacation solo with school age kids. Again, how does taking your kids away without your husband sound? Yeah.
I may look like I have it all together, that it’s easy. It’s not. I handle it out of need, not choice. Just because I can, doesn’t mean I always want to and at times wish that I didn’t always have to.
People say how hard it is to make friends in adulthood. This has not held true for me. So many have been by my side and cheered me on. You have set me up, gone out for drinks, listened to stories of horrible dates and dramas with my ex. You have encouraged me as I pursue new directions personally and professionally. You have seen the light extinguish from my eyes only to be re-lit as my voice was found. You have embraced my new relationship and have welcomed my man into the fold.
I appreciate and thank you for the gift of your friendship and support.
Your Grateful Friend
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