Dear Un-Divorced Person, Don't Tell Me I'm Lucky

by Michelle Dempsey
A divorced woman hugging her little girl in black and white
martin-dm / Getty

Dear Un-Divorced Person,

Don’t tell me I’m lucky to get a night off from my kid.

Of all the things that have annoyed me most in the ten months since crossing over into single, co-parenting, divorcing woman – this one takes the stale, flavorless, pity-party cake.

Don’t tell me I’m lucky to get a break.

Because while you think I’m enjoying a night of kid-free bliss, sans babysitter costs, I am trying my hardest to enjoy whatever it is that I’m doing to fill my childless time, because I’m trying to avoid the reality of having to go back home to an empty house, and the fact that for the next 15 years, I’ll spend half my life in this manner.

Don’t tell me that I’m lucky co-parenting gives me built-in babysitting.

No, please stop yourself, because you know what 50/50 timesharing gives me? It gives me 50/50 guilt. It gives me 50/50 anxiety of not knowing what my three-year-old is doing, whether or not she went to bed on time, or if she ate her dinner and brushed her teeth. It gives me 50/50 mornings of waking up without my child in my home, and 50/50 mornings of having to avoid looking at her open bedroom door, with her empty bed and untouched teddy bears. It gives me 50/50 nights of not being able to read stories cuddled up in our blanket fort before bed. It gives me 50/50 nights of waking up in the middle of the night because I thought I heard her cry, only to realize I am alone.

Don’t tell me that I’m lucky to get a good night’s sleep when it’s his night.

You know what I’d rather have? My child, who I grew in body and birthed just three years ago, wake me in the middle of the night when she’s had a bad dream or her throat hurts. I’d rather have a morning of sleepy cuddles and uneaten waffles and tooth brushing struggles. I’d rather not have to see the empty room with the empty bed and the untouched teddy bears.

Don’t tell me that I’m lucky to have split while my child was still so young.

Sure, she won’t remember much of this. But I will. I will remember what it was like handing over a child, who didn’t know how to use a cell phone to call me if she needed me, over to a man who hated me, for her very first overnight away. I will remember how empty it felt to not have my flesh and blood in my home upon returning from a date or a girl’s dinner or a late meeting. I will remember how hard it was to potty train my daughter when she was only with me half the time, and hoping her dad would implement the same stealthy tactics. I will remember the pain of not being able to reach my ex one last time for the day just to say goodnight and one more “I love you to the moon.”

Don’t tell me how lucky I am to be able to do things “my way” in my home.

Have you ever tried parenting all by yourself? Have you tried getting a child ready for school while preparing for a big, make-or-break the biggest deal of your career type of meeting? Have you finally found what works for your child to listen to you best and then have it all undone in one quick weekend because your child went to her dads?

Don’t tell me I’m lucky.

Because just like you, I married someone I once loved. I had a huge, beautiful traditional white wedding, looked my best and smiled my hardest for photos, all to have it go to waste. Just like you, I once had a home where my daughter had a Mommy and Daddy who slept under the same roof, and even once the same bed. Just like you, I thanked my lucky stars that even though my marriage was hard and full of struggles, there was someone there to help when motherhood seemed like it couldn’t get any harder. Just like you, I went on date nights with other couples, checked in with the babysitter, and joked about how rough the morning would be with our littles and a slight wine-hangover.

Just like you, I wanted to be the best Mom I could ever be to this sweet little blessing of mine. But now I only get to do it half the time.

I didn’t end up lucky. I ended up divorced.