Divorce.  You think the moment you decide is the worst moment.

Then you realize, “Nope, that’s not it. Telling the kids . . . that is the worst moment.”

Then you do that, and though you realize there is more to come that will surely be difficult, you temporarily (and incorrectly) believe the hardest is behind you.

Then there’s this whole other series of events—these unfortunate events—and you realize, “Well, crap. I’m just gonna keep getting hit with hard for a while.” 

There’s looking at the empty house, telling it goodbye for good.

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There’s your very first night in bed alone.

There’s the first night at your house all alone when your kids go to Dad’s for the first time. (There’s the realization that you are now the type of family that has kids that “go to dad’s.”)

There’s the first time you have to refer to him as your ex.

The first time you aren’t with your kids when they wake up on their birthday.

The first time they come home full of stories, and (for the first time) you have the realization that from now on, half the memories they make, you’re not going to be a part of.

There’s the first time the kids meet . . . her. Ah. Don’t even get me started. I don’t envy you on this one.

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It’s OK, though. Really, it is. Because with that—with ALL of that—there’s also . . . 

The first time your kids open all the windows at your new (old) house—every single one—and later that evening, not one of them will close again. They just. won’t. close.  They won’t close, they won’t latch, they won’t lock. And you Google (basically) “my windows won’t close. Help!” And looky there . . . there are all these articles and tutorials, and before you know it, you’ve fixed all the windows. By yourself. Bam.

That’s an event—a good one. 

The first time your kids leave you at noon on Christmas to go be with dad, and you think maybe you’ll just curl up and wallow in a pit of despair until they return. Until you realize that spending the next two days curled up on the couch with a bottomless cup of coffee, all the Hallmark Christmas movies you could ever want, and the stack of new books you got for Christmas is not a bad thing. Not at all. 

The first time you realize “I actually have opinions I didn’t even realize I had. Now they don’t have to be swallowed up by his anymore. (Sidenote: I like the music to be loud, thank you.)

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The first time you book a trip, all alone, and wonder why have I never booked a trip, all alone? This is amazing.

The first time you realize you can handle it. Whatever it may be.

The first time you take a long road trip alone and know exactly what gauges to be watching on your dashboard and what the pressure in your tires should be. (I’m sorry if this is a pitiful first . . . this is a byproduct of being married since childhood and having a husband who always insisted on driving. It’s not like I didn’t know how to pump my own gas, OK?)

The first time you realize it’s not a competition. You can’t control what the other parent does, good or bad. You can just do you. Create a life. Create a home. Create memories. Lots of love. It’s not a competition—there’s freedom there. 

Yes, divorce—just like most everything else in life—is a series of unfortunate events that often lead to a series of fortunate events if you just look for them.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Hayley Hengst

Hello there! My name is Hayley Hengst. Mom to three Sweet Boy Hooligans, ages 4, 6, and 10. Regular contributor for Austin Moms, as well as my own personal blog, MotherFreaking.  Other than my boys, the things that make me happiest in life are books, coffee, warm fires, and twinkle lights. Also, queso.  You can follow me on Facebook, Hayley Hengst, or @motherfreaking.  I'm on IG as @motherfreakingmama.