For the past decade+ I’ve spent far too much time with my Child.
The Husband traveled.
Never in the past 11 years+1 week did we drop the Child somewhere and travel together (sidebar: guess who’s 12 soon?).
Spoiler alert: This was not a great approach to marriage.
Even though I’ve consciously chosen not to focus on the rear-view mirror (Glance Carla! Glance! is now a mantra of sorts) I’ve reflected and decided it’s worth pointing out.
That overshared, however, our uncoupling has been congenial and the above is a reason why.
We may have veered off-track with prioritizing each other (relationship killer no matter the sort), but there’s no anger.
Since the condo move. Before the condo move. The Child & I have been like Frick & Frack.
Together so much we’ve developed an inimitable ability to fight like cats and make-up as quickly with zero confusion what the relationship dynamic is.
I’m the parent. She’s the child.
I make the rules. She follows them quickfastandinahurry.
I sketch boundaries in Sharpie. She may go nuts within the space created for her. We both know if she steps out of bounds then consequences are swift and non-negotiable.
It works for us. We’ve created a good routine. We’ve stuck to it.
Until this weekend.
Until this weekend when, initially, I had absolutely no idea what to do with myself.
I rediscovered connection.
People always ask me how I behave when I feel stressed. Do you eat more or less? they enquire. Do you exercise more or less? they want to know. Still others, those who don’t know me well, wonder: Do you drink in excess or are you cautious/entirely abstain?
My response has always been: I remain the same. Stress might spark me to turn to fiction more than usual as escape, but the rest remains status-quo.
The past few months, however, I’ve been on auto-pilot. In an effort to keep going I’ve rushed past my feelings and focused solely on the mindset required to keep moving forward.
This weekend forced me out of that routine. Silence reigned supreme. I was compelled to slow down, grow still and reconnect with myself. All parts. Even the ones I’d deftly avoided using the excuse of needing to ‘focus on how the Child was feeling.’
connection with others. easier than with ourselves.
The Child and I play together. A lot. In a sense it’s become easy to associate PlayfulCarla with MotherhoodCarla. This past weekend I was reminded the two can merge, but the former is not dependent on the latter.
I skated in my condo. I frolicked with friends. Thanks to serendipity my first child-free weekend was also a Tabata teacher training weekend I’d signed up for a lifetime ago (<—foreshadowing!). The training was fantastically playful in precisely the way I never knew I always needed.
Neither day was entirely a Daycation (I experienced many moments where I felt like the lost third leg of a stool/wondered what my other 2 pieces were doing without me) yet both were definitely more playful than not.
Tootie Ramsey of Condo World.
I told my brain a new story.
I chose the condo. I did not want a yard/home maintenance. I adore how where we reside is ‘Melrose Place Without the Sex’ (my new-neighbors do not enjoy that phrase/the single moms among them insist I add For Now! which cracks me up).
I’m jealous of where the HusbandWithWhomINoLongerLive resides. It’s urban’y. It’s walking distance to a fave grocery, coffee shop and yoga studios. It’s ambling length to the Child’s fave shopping emporiums.
These two tales have been at war in my brain since we planned our split. I’ve embraced the second life I’ve started, I deeply miss the Husband, I covet what I perceive to be his second life.
This weekend I yanked the plug on my old story. I forced a hard-reboot and consciously chose to create a new narrative.
And just like that the weekend was over.
The Child returned, Sunday night routines ensued, and all resumed ‘new normal‘ until the next time she leaves.
A scant 11 nights from now.
But who’s counting?
Bea saysNovember 6, 2017 at 4:27 am
I’m so glad to see this, Carla I’ve wondered what happened.
Beautiful writing as always and I hope you can work things out in the way you want to.
Allie saysNovember 6, 2017 at 5:29 am
I’m laughing at “grace, Carla, glance!” because I need to remember to do that too. I’m so glad you’re writing openly about this, as that must be hard(?) but so helpful – to you and so many others going through this same issue. I’m looking forward to seeing how you grow and change and THRIVE in your new normal. Oh and tabata!!!! Very exciting.
Cate saysNovember 6, 2017 at 5:37 am
I’m finalizing my divorce and wish we had done a separation first because I wonder if we could have saved our marriage?
I love you are sharing all of this because I can tell you are working to be circumspect, but you’re normalizing a lot for me.
Susan Bonifant saysNovember 6, 2017 at 7:44 am
What a great comment
carla saysNovember 6, 2017 at 7:48 am
I KNOW. Thank you Cate!
I am focusing on showing up as authentic and flawed in hopes of creating space for others to do the same. I don’t know whats happening here. We ARE separated/selling the house/weve both moved on etc—but Im open as always to where life will take me and unfold.
Wendy saysNovember 6, 2017 at 6:37 am
I’m so sorry that this is happening to you. Marriage is really hard and there have been many times that I’ve wanted to call it quits. I’m looking forward to following this journey of yours. Thanks for sharing.
MCM Mama saysNovember 6, 2017 at 6:51 am
I’m glad to hear that you are finding new footing and settling in to the new normal. Having watched many of my friends go through this, I know it’s not easy to move through. I’ve been impressed with how well you are taking care of your daughter’s needs, so it’s good to see you taking care of yourself as well.
And I have to say, I’m pretty sure the only reason Beer Geek and I are still married is because we have made time away from the kids a priority. I can get through the hard times with the kids and with each other if I get regular reminders that I actually like him and chose him.
I know the weekends apart never get easy, but hopefully you’ll find a way to make them always a recharge time for you.
carla saysNovember 6, 2017 at 6:59 am
yes. it was so so so fucking hard and that surprised me given the fact I am unbelievably lucky and have a womentribe (lady posse?) who didnt let me fly solo unless I said I needed that.
and the DOODLE.
it was made worse by the fact the doodle left too.
we are separated and I dont know what’s coming next.
I know what I am willing to do and try.
I know all I can control is me.
and THANK YOU.
The child is my #1 and my heart breaks for her for myriad reasons.
messymimi saysNovember 6, 2017 at 6:56 am
You and yours are in my prayers that all is well, and all stays well.
Liz saysNovember 6, 2017 at 7:18 am
This will help so many who face the same first weekend
Rebecca Regnier saysNovember 6, 2017 at 7:23 am
I often lurk here Carla- and say nothing – but this was so sweet – real. I just wanted to offer my support and bravo for being so vulnerable. There’s such bravery in that.
Heather saysNovember 6, 2017 at 7:24 am
Sending all my love. As always, as ever, you’re an incredible role model for parenting and life, and I’m looking forward to seeing you vision in yet another new adventure. The beautiful part is that your incredible connection with your amazing kid means you’ll have each other forever, no matter what, and that’s so valuable.
michelle combs saysNovember 6, 2017 at 7:29 am
You got this! I am rooting for you!
Dawn saysNovember 6, 2017 at 7:30 am
I’m a reader and I never comment, but I need to chime in here.
My husband and I did this. Yes husband.
We separated for a year. Kind of lived our own lives and kind of stayed together.
At the end of the year we chose to be together again. It was excruciating and worth it.
Much love my friend. Thank you for always being willing to share.
Catherine saysNovember 6, 2017 at 7:35 am
Appreciate your vulnerability, Carla.
I’m sure, like with everything, there will be ups, downs, standstills, but I thank you for sharing. You will continue so dig deeper into your new normal, and your relationships, though different, will continue to grow.
Susan Bonifant saysNovember 6, 2017 at 7:49 am
Things I hear that sound nice often come back to me in mantra form as in “learn to be still” ; a hard and essential thing we have to do to stop running from complicated truths.
I love your blog because you bring such honest things into the light where they immediately seem manageable. You do it because you too, are learning to be still, even as you move forward.
You’re gonna make it after all, Mary.
Marcia saysNovember 6, 2017 at 7:56 am
I relate to this not from the spouse part of the equation but to you’re daughter’s. When I was 12 my parents went through exactly this and trust me, it wasn’t handled with the grace and thought you’ve given to it. It is SO effing hard. Big hugs to you.
Tracey saysNovember 6, 2017 at 8:06 am
I love you and your honesty.
Shelly Kramer saysNovember 6, 2017 at 8:15 am
It’s hard, says the women who got divorced when her kids were three and five and stayed single for the next 16 year. But there will come a time, believe it or not, when you’ll look forward to those solitary weekends. And the Carla that will emerge as a result of that alone-reflecting-doing grown-up things-skating parties-who knows maybe even sex in that condo will be even better than she is now. More whole. More happy. More everything. I promise.
Haralee saysNovember 6, 2017 at 8:34 am
I am cheering for you! Life sometimes gets hard.
Cooc saysNovember 6, 2017 at 9:00 am
I know this is hard for you, but you rock this aspect of parenting too.
cherylann saysNovember 6, 2017 at 9:00 am
I raised my daughter single handedly and honestly I was so happy to have every other weekend (actually turned out to be about one weekend a month as he was unreliable) to MYSELF- to ride my bike, hike/run in the surrounding trails and just spend time with friends and catch up on “me” time. I demanded however that I get the house as it was the neighborhood she knew with friends all around. I traded him some property I had in Northern Az. He still has the property, we updated and sold the house once she was on her own and we are still very close.
Shauna Reid saysNovember 6, 2017 at 9:32 am
“I told my brain a new story” love this and love you. Continue to keep you in my thoughts and send sparkledust and hugs galore since I can’t be there to skate with you!
Andrea Bates saysNovember 6, 2017 at 9:33 am
Beautiful words to express a bewildering sentiment.
Thank you for sharing. I’m here, always, when you’re with the child or without. And I adore you. xo
Aleisha saysNovember 6, 2017 at 12:43 pm
“This weekend I yanked the plug on my old story. I forced a hard-reboot and consciously chose to create a new narrative.” How? Is this just one of those rip-the-band aid-off kinds of things? I find that so hard.
Carla saysNovember 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm
I’ve read your comment a few times and keep challenging myself with exactly how I did it.
In a sense it was a simple as ripping the Band-Aid off.
In a deeper sense/level I forced myself to really examine the choice I have made in condo living versus what I thought I was envious of with regards to his choices for his second life.
I will be candid and say I’ve had many moments of – – in my mind – – blaming the child for the fact I was “forced” to live where I do. She wanted to stay in the neighborhood. She was not about to change schools. That sort of stuff.
I wrote and I journaled and I brainstormed and I wrote some more and got really honest with myself.
Not only do I believe this life and this condo is where I’m not meant to be what I value It’s something I’ve already found/created here as well (community).
It’s further complicated by the fact I’m honest enough to admit a part of me wishes I could be part of their twosome during the time she’s not with me.
I didn’t distract myself from these feelings. I sat with them as uncomfortable as they were and are. And I quite literally wrote down a new narrative for myself. Something I can pick up and read during moments when I find myself wandering back to the old one.
That’s rather rambling and I’m not sure it’s much help – – but that’s what it was.
Donna saysNovember 6, 2017 at 3:12 pm
Carla, it’s not easy but I love how you just take it as it comes. You know we have similar scenarios and I often find myself thinking of you when ‘those moments’ come down so hard. I find solace taking a little extra time on my weekly grocery run, just to sit by myself, and to remind myself that my needs are important, too. The ‘always on duty’ mindset is a tough one to escape. I hope you’ve set yourself up for more frolic and fun going forward. HUGS!!!
Lyn saysNovember 6, 2017 at 6:37 pm
I’m sorry you have to deal with this and these feelings. I know it’s hard. I hope you and your daughter have peace.
Leanne | crestingthehill saysNovember 6, 2017 at 8:40 pm
Oh Carla you write this so well, but I imagine there is still a lot of pain underneath all the change and adjustment. I hope you find a new normal and that eventually a kind of contentment can settle. Change always sucks and change where you lose someone and the life you had with them would suck even more. You will rock this transition because you are amazing – and that daughter of yours is lucky to have a mum and dad who are handling this new situation with such maturity xx
Elena saysNovember 6, 2017 at 8:54 pm
Sweet Carla, what a beautiful and vulnerable reflection. For better or worse, after almost 11 years – the time that my daughter is with her dad instead of here, is still hard. But at the end of the day, I know that she is happy, loved and healthy – and that’s all any of us want for our kids. Sending many hugs – and woo hoos for you finding your own play.
Jody - Fit at 59 saysNovember 8, 2017 at 2:44 pm
HUGE HUGE HUGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This has really got to be a very tough time & especially since it was amicable so feelings of love & not despise are part of it all…
Hoping it gets better with time!
Alisa Studer saysNovember 9, 2017 at 9:42 am
I LOVE that you skated!! So great. We get so caught up in our kids lives that we forget ourselves. My 14 year old daughter is bipolar and I have had many fantasies of being able to send her off to her dad’s for the weekend. He is useless though and can’t be trusted so I don’t but the fantasy is nice! Thanks for the fun story!
Christine saysNovember 9, 2017 at 9:49 am
Telling your brain a new story – I love this idea. Sometimes we need to break the usual narrative and it’s a reminder that we are the storytellers for our own lives. I have been watching and witnessing you move through this with grace and I appreciate your openness in sharing this. xo
Raniele saysNovember 10, 2017 at 8:03 am
Unfortunately, my ex-husband and I ended our 21-year relationship and I can say that it was not easy for both of us. Proof of this is that we still have the famous “relapse”.
cherylann saysNovember 12, 2017 at 6:35 am
I kicked my 18 year old out of the house to go live with her dad as she was not following my house rules and making me crazy. We are good friends now – she is 30.