Divorce is traumatic, all around, for adults and children.
But what if it was possible for a divorced parent to find a silver lining once all the papers had been signed and the custody arrangement agreed upon?
Lara Bazelon, a mom of two and law professor, has penned an essay for Slate that suggests there just might be such a lining — and her thoughts are stirring controversy on all sides.
After Bazelon and her husband agreed to co-parent their two children in a joint custody setup, she found the transitions where she had to pass both kids over to their dad "awful at first," she writes.
"Kissing my daughter's tear-stained face while she clung to me — and trying not to cry myself — was wrenching in a way that seemed to symbolize the larger demolishment of our family," she said.
Bazelon admits that she still has moments like that, but says that once the dust settled, "Part-time parenting turned into a strange kind of gift."
"Here’s the truth: Having my two children half the time is exactly the right amount, and I cannot imagine my life any other way," she said. "Unhappily married in a 1,200-square-foot flat with two toddlers and an aggrieved spouse, I was physically and emotionally suffocated. Now the same space feels positively palatial, particularly when I am the only person in it."
Of course, that's a personal decision, and individual parents will undoubtedly react strongly both ways, as they did on Twitter:
"I know how I am supposed to feel about my divorced-parent reality," Bazelon notes. "A good mother would be devastated to lose thousands of dinner-bath-bedtime-story evenings. A good mother would be heartsick to wake up alone. Deprived of her children full-time, a good mother would feel sorrowful and bereft."
She's not alone: In 2012 writer Somer Sherwood told xoJane that she was "much happier as a part-time parent," while Divorce magazine noted in 2014 that there can be advantages to being a part-time parent as well.
Ultimately, writes Bazelon, she's discovered that divorce suits her whole family — including the kids, who she notes need "joy and security." As she suggests, "cordial exes may be in a better position to give them those things than a married couple who make each other miserable. Most women don't say so, though, for fear of getting tarred and feathered."
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In any case, Bazelon, her ex, and their children have found something that works for them. And she does, in fact, miss the children — it just takes a few days.
"Missing my kids has had a positive effect on my parenting," she says. "When their dad drops them off and they ring the doorbell over and over, yelling 'Mom!' as they jump up and down, I rush down the stairs to let them in. I feel happy and grateful and head-over-heels in love."
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