“When Will I See You Next?” The Heartache Of Co-Parenting

No one ever says co-parenting is easy.  It’s hard enough for happily married couples, let alone when you’re divorced and trying to organize schedules between different houses in different towns, work priorities, school, sports, vacations, sick days…you know, basically everything.  I’ve been divorced for seven years and my kids are eleven and eight years old, so by now, they know the drill.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re still kids and there are many frustrated outbursts of “oh I forgot my book at Daddy’s!” and “that coat is at Mommy’s!”, but for the most part, we’ve got this figured out.  This is our life.  It’s as simple as that, and while we sometimes leave books and coats at the other parent’s house, we’ve pretty much mastered this two-household deal.

Seven years ago, when all of this was new, we had nothing figured out.  The kids had a rough time adjusting, as can be expected, and I certainly struggled with the new arrangement, regardless of the fact I knew it was the right decision.  There were a lot of tears, from all of us, as we tried to navigate this new, strange life where Mommy and Daddy live in different houses.  But as weeks and months passed, then eventually years, we fell into a bit of a rhythm, and while still hectic, it became the norm for us. 

We. Are. All. Good.

But…

There are moments when something might happen, or one of the kids says something, when I feel like out of the blue someone suddenly punched me in the gut and immediately I am racked with guilt and overcome with worry that I’m damaging these innocent kids who didn’t choose this life, to have a split family.  One of those moments happened last week.  I was dropping the boys off at their dad’s and they were pulling sweatshirts out of the back seat and throwing backpacks over their shoulders as I was yelling reminders to them.  I went to close my door and be on my way when my eleven-year-old said something, kind of quietly.  I didn’t catch what he said so I asked him to repeat it.  He looked back at me and said, again, “when will I see you next?”  And that’s when my heart broke into a million pieces.  I paused, then answered him, told him I love him once more, and drove off.  In my empty, quiet car, where there was no singing, yelling, laughing. When he asked me that question, all of a sudden, rather than the tall, confident eleven-year-old he is today, I saw him as a confused, scared little three-year-old, not sure when he would see his mom next.  My heart broke for that little boy and I wished with everything I had and prayed to someone, something, anything that my boys will be ok, that this life is good enough for them, that I’m good enough for them, because I can’t stand to think any other way. 

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