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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."
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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