My first ride on my own was the perfect co-parenting exercise

Photo: Unsplash

Almost automatically, Polina wanted to turn down the opportunity to travel to Singapore for work, but why? Because they could be with their dad for a week without her. So I decided to just do it, with an extra week to refuel.

Paulina (42 years old) is the mother of Jasmine (12), Fabien (9) and Quinn (7).

“From the plane back from Malaysia, I happily looked at the clouds below. I ordered another gin and tonic, took a crazy selfie of my kids and decided I wanted that freedom forever.

My mother joked about my kids for years: “They look like koala bears.” There was some truth in that: With a guy with an international job, my kids used to be home all the time and my dad away regularly. They were always hanging from my legs and I carefully adapted my part-time job to that.

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My marriage was already hanging by a thread when I had the opportunity to travel to Singapore for work three years ago. I almost automatically wanted to turn it down. After all, who took care of the children? But they were all in elementary school, and they could definitely have dispensed with me for a week, I realized in the same second. Wouldn’t we be successful without their father?

Suddenly I ended up adding my life to our family for over twelve years. By the way, it was a choice I made myself, but then it was also my choice to do things differently from now on. I accepted my employer’s offer without deliberation and announced it dryly at dinner that evening.

“Before I knew it, I said, ‘Actually, I’m going to stick with it for another week in Malaysia to refuel.'”

The kids shrugged their shoulders, but my husband was less resigned. I just couldn’t leave, could I? Of course it wasn’t that easy. We had two months to meet that. W: My husband was at home during that time, there was no stopping this from happening. Before I knew it, I said, “Actually, I’m going to stick with it for another week in Malaysia to refuel.” I didn’t even hear his answer.

In retrospect, it seems selfish. However, this work was just what I needed to break free from a life that left me miserable for so long. All this time I was guided by one fear: that the father of my children would not be able to take care of the three of us. A fear that was unreal, but I wouldn’t give him the opportunity to prove otherwise. So I used my parents, in-laws and friends as a safety net, packed my suitcase full of bikini, took the kids to school the morning of my departure and headed straight to the airport.

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My time abroad was the greatest gift I could give myself. Working with my colleagues from abroad has given me a lot of confidence in myself. And when I traded my hotel in Singapore for a fabulous stay on the coast five days later, I knew for sure: I wanted a divorce. So I only had to overcome one hurdle: learning to give up full-time childcare.

And it turned out that the following week was a crash course. Quinn fell in the schoolyard and had to be sewn. Without me. And where I – sometimes to the extreme – attached importance to healthy food, my kids suddenly ate fricandals. I swallowed their reports via the app as bravely as I could, dived back into the sea and made it easier day by day. I miss them, but not so much that it hurts.

“Where kids used to hang from my leg like a koala bear, my dad suddenly became the hero”

When I got home, the kids were happy to see me, but where they used to hang from my leg like a koala bear, my dad suddenly became the hero. Another swallow, but above all a great relief. My children and their parents can also manage without me.

The perfect workout

Now, more than a year after the divorce, I realize that my ex may not be a good partner, but he is a great father. And although I should miss my kids half the time, I enjoy the freedom. My vacations are now half compulsive on my own, and I don’t want it any other way. My first ride on my own was the perfect parenting exercise.”

This article appears on Kek Mama 08-2022.

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