“When the kids are with their dad, I live a wild life”

Photo: Unsplash

The biggest advantage of co-parenting is that you can move forward without a half-time limit. For Denga, 39, it goes even further: her childless presence is miles away from her life as a mother. “He feels a little schizophrenic.”

Denga, mother of a son (10) and a daughter (8):

“Really crazy” said a friend as we were hanging out at the lamps for another evening. “I can’t imagine you as a mother at all.” We had just finished our fourth gin and tonic, the last of which was served by three men a few tables away. I raised my thumbs at them with a smile.

It was crazy, too, I thought. To the outside world, a woman is sitting here at the height of her tumultuous life. In heels and wear next to the turntables, there are no local obligations to return to at this time. But last Saturday I was sitting on the couch in a house suit. Spaghetti sauce in my hair, so to speak, exhausted from a day of running and flying between football, riding lessons, and play dates, with two rowdy kids on the sofa who had no intention of sleeping yet.

It’s time for myself

Sometimes I dreamed about it in secret, when the children were smaller and my marriage to Peter was still happy: how I would have one or more days a week to myself. I could walk out the door again without arranging a babysitter first or moving two kids into coats and car seats and acting moths when I automatically felt the need to do so.

Sure, I had a husband who was also at home part-time. But my much-needed profilers were there 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the first few years — even when I woke up with a shriek. Useless frustrations that every parent knows and nothing more than that in fact. Because on the occasional evenings when, as a young mother, I once again went to work with friends, the kids were a topic of conversation all those hours, and I missed them just by getting on my bike.

stormy love

Peter and I knew we wanted kids together from the moment we expressed our love for each other. I’ve known him sideways through mutual friends for a while. When these friends got married and we supported the master of ceremonies, the spark flew in no time. Within six months we were living together, less than a year later we got married and another year later I was expecting our oldest. As is often the case with stormy love, the passion was unstoppable, but our differences were high.

“We were so busy taking care of the kids and our right, that we forgot about each other”

Peter and I are naturally controlling and equally stubborn. The dumbest things in our relationship soon turned into conflict. Who was entitled to spend an evening that week, than to cook healthy food. Who was the first to realize a child had the flu or who did more at home. That’s how we fought our way through our marriage. We were so busy taking care of the kids and our own right that we forgot about each other.

power wrestling

Few people start having children with the intention of raising them half the time, let alone possibly seeing them even half the time. My heart broke into four pieces when my ex and I decided after our youngest’s third birthday that things were no longer working between us.

The immediate cause was another power struggle. I wanted to get the cake and do some shopping while Peter got the kids ready for the party. Peter wanted the same for himself. She was too childish for words. I won the battle.

Only to be pissed when we got home because Peter wasn’t dressed appropriately for our daughter. With a grin we sat outside the children’s party, when we wanted nothing more than to throw an entire birthday cake in each other’s faces.

Looking back at that period, I’m amazed that at least our son didn’t actually suggest the idea of ​​divorce himself. This did not make anyone happy.

Read also – After the divorce: “I had fifty men in two years” “>

Parenting Share

We decided to stay in our old house, Peter found a home in another neighborhood. An ideal setting for co-parenting, with elementary school and childcare sandwiched between.

Oddly enough, our divorce was the only thing that didn’t cause a quarrel between us. I still see myself sitting on the sofa for the first week on my own. Now I was finally able to touch the chandeliers, and I wanted nothing more than to be with my children.

“After the divorce, the house was either very quiet and empty or very busy and full”

Co-parenting doesn’t mean a lot of time for yourself and in the weeks with the kids you just have to work extra hard, it means always on hand. Because the house is too quiet and empty or too busy and full, without the partner offering a helping hand. Wherever my children were, I always remained a mother, even during the weeks they spent with their father. It took years before I really grew it.

days alone

Everything went well, in the end. And so, after the first year, I enjoyed the days on my own more and more. So much so that I made dating my newest hobby and sometimes spent weekends with a different person every night. I went to festivals and concerts again, back to the club after fifteen years.

“For the first time in six years, I was a wife, friend, and seducer.”

Through that “childless” solo life, I connected with other single women, not all of whom were mothers. And so a second life developed in which I was not the mother in the schoolyard who combined work and care, or worked as a taxi driver, cook and nurse for children. For the first time in six years I was just a denga again. Wife, girlfriend and seducer if you feel like it. Features I haven’t lost, but for years they have transcended my all-important identity: the identity of a mother.

Double life parenting

free of care duties

During the weeks the kids were with their dad, I of course went to parenting evenings and other parenting commitments. And sometimes my ex and I swear the chores. When one has to go to a party exactly during the other’s sports time, for example. Whether one of the children is sick and the other has to be moved somewhere.

But most of the time – and often as they got older – the weeks when my kids weren’t left really meant freedom from caring responsibilities. still. Of course they are always allowed to call or come because they are old enough to move between their homes on their own. But in practice, this rarely happens, and they only send a text every two days, and then only because I explicitly requested it.

Because this is an advantage with divorced parents: at the age of seven they already got a mobile phone. That was safer, with only one parent in the house that could always happen to him. Or, and that was actually the main reason, to make sure the other parent was always accessible.

double life

My double life is now familiar. I’ve been taking care of my kids part-time for longer than I’ve been taking care of them full-time. And I see the benefits of that.

For example, sometimes I go crazy and take a pill at a dance party, knowing that my kids will be safe with their dad for a week. Sometimes I eat pasta four days in a row, grab a late-night Netflix series when I know I can sleep, or carry a bottle of wine on my own. And once I have a fling, I don’t have to hide it, because no one sees the wild side of my life. But also no one sees me when I work overtime every night in those weeks to make ends meet on my own with two kids. And who removes the tasks from my hands in the evening while the laundry still has to be done and the imperfection sometimes takes on greater forms than I would like.

“Sometimes I eat pasta for four days or take a pill at a dance party”

In a sense, my second life is an escape, an escape from the stark reality of losing my children. Part-time parenting was never my first choice and I felt a little schizophrenic at times.

Some of my new friends have never seen my kids before. In fact, they can’t even imagine me as a mom – like the friend I was laughing with to fill up on my free gin and tonic. This also means that those friendships cannot be close to my mother’s friends. Motherhood is such an essential part of who I am, it has changed me forever and I can never completely shut it down. But explain it to someone who considers children far from your bed.

Friends who have no children

I don’t invite childless friends from my “wildlife” to kids’ birthdays, they don’t really want to. As much as I don’t take my friends from “my mom’s life” to a party where I live the noise. Not everyone understands the freedoms I allow myself. I do other things with them.

I enjoy a day at the zoo just as much – and in a more balanced way because at least my kids are with me. Moreover, there is no doubt that my life, or at least my separate groups of friends, do not mix. So far my wives live a life so far from what they consider a bourgeois existence that I live the other half of the time. They can already see me baking baby cakes with the neighbor on Sunday morning. We sing with Anton and K3, while they sleep drunk.

your own life

The older my children get, the more they realize that their father and I live outside of them. I was recently sitting on a balcony with the kids in the city when an old free range spontaneously appeared on our table. Seeming uncomfortable with the situation, he struggled by introducing my children. When he disappeared, after some formality, just as quickly, my son gasped: “Well mom, he obviously didn’t expect you with two kids.” My daughter regrets that I have friends that she does not know. I know all she has right?

“The older my children are, the more they realize that their father and I live outside of them”

Then I compare it to my work. I’m there every day with the same people and you’ve never met them. I realize Peter is living a much quieter life. Or better hide his excesses. In the weeks my kids were out, he’d only been playing golf again. I find that annoying at times, because when we were still married, he couldn’t wait to get out the door as long as he could. In turn, I get the necessary sneeze when I take the kids from him on Sunday evening with small eyes. “So, did you have a good party?” Do I get “or did someone keep you awake?”

We both do our best and our kids don’t have anything. The grass is always greener on the other side: When I was married, I dreamed of this life, and now that I had it, I often wished my children were with me all the time. As individuals, the divorce made Peter and I happier, which is good for our children. We have taught them that choosing for your happiness is also good for others.”

This article appears on Kek Mama 08-2022.

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