I think every parent who gets divorced wants their children to have an equal balance of love and affection toward both their mother and father. Every mother wants her children to know they are loved and cared for by both parents, and that the flow of affection and attention will continue in an undisrupted and equilateral manner as before the divorce. All parents – especially the divorced ones – want to give their child engaging and nurturing experiences, and presumably be able to offer them the time and materials to enhance their life experiences, despite the shared custody and single status.
At least that’s the way Disney would tell the story. The raw unadulterated truth is that we are human and have human, not Disney, emotions and realties. And secretly, when our child comes to us bitching about something the other parent did or didn’t do, there is a suppressed glimmer of, “Ya, I told you so…” satisfaction that stems from all the hurt and anger and frustration that led us down the path of divorce in the first place.
I’m getting a heavy dose of conflicting emotions right now. My daughter is with her father at the GF’s vacation home in an exquisite and desirable location. My daughter is having a lovely week of fresh air, sunshine and adventure – and a much needed vacation – not with me, but with her father and the GF and her family. And I’m seeing it and hearing about it on Instagram and Vine and Twitter and Facebook.
I’m happy for her that she is spending time with her father. I think it’s good for both of them. And I’m glad that she is getting away from the routine of the house and is able to pack in some adventure before the slog of junior year starts. But every tweet and post with comments like: “…best day of my life ever…” and “…hanging with the family at dinner…,” “…paradise found…” burns in my stomach like an Habernero chili and makes me cringe that I am not the one who is providing the foundation of this experience for her. I don’t remember her telling me recently that time spent with me was the “best day ever,” nor that our new house is “paradise found.” I’m feeling slighted and inferior and decidely not fun. Or exquisite and desirable.
No one really prepares you for having to share your child after a divorce. Sure there are court mandated parenting classes, and war stories over bottles of wine about what a pain in the ass joint custody is. But the reality of watching your child bond not only with the parent from whom you are estranged, but with another woman and family who may someday be more than just another woman and just another family, rips at some visceral cord of insecurity that makes even the most self assured and confident warrior melt into a pile of frayed nerves and self doubt.
I know the reality is she is simply having fun. I know that she is fortunate to have this opportunity, and there is a part of me (albeit small and deeply buried) that is glad that I have raised her well to be gracious and engaging, and that she is not being bratty and entitled. But I still cringe when my phone chirps to notify me of yet another social media worthy moment.
I know I’m not supposed to feel this way. I know that I should rise above the high school pettiness of envy and insecurity and one-upmanship. I know that at the end of the day I am her mother and she will always love me more than another woman who may usurp my place in wife category. I know that she is well cared for and loved under the jurisdiction of her father. And frankly, it’s easier to have her out of the house while I help her sister pack for college. I’m happy for her. I really am.
But I just can’t bring myself to hit the “like” button on any of her posts….