I agree with what Tracey said. It is right for you to be standing up for yourself and getting what you and your children deserve.
I'm commenting anonymously today. You don't know me in real life, but I follow and comment on Jenny and Tracey's blogs/twitter, etc.
I'm in a marriage that... isn't great. Isn't even good, really. There's is no abuse or infidelity (that I know about I guess), but my husband has lost interest and 'checked out' a couple of years ago. We went to counselling, and while he said all the right things when we were there, there was no carry-over. I think he stays because it's easy - I only work part time so I do EVERYTHING around the house. He only needs to focus on his work and his 'fun stuff' (that never includes me). I stay because as the person who's done everything for my 6-year old daughter, I can't imagine not seeing her 50% of the time. It makes me physically ill to even think about it. My husband's brother just divorced and settled for seeing the kids less than 50% of the time and my husband thought that was awful and unfair. So I know he wouldn't be happy with less than 50% of our daughter's time. And he's a good dad, but has a history of being way too critical of people and having such high (impossible to meet) expectations of people that it has ruined many of his close relationships. There are many times that I'm a buffer between him and our daughter when he's going overboard with expectations for her.
So I'm scared to (a) leave her without that buffer 50% of the time, and (b) be without her 50% of the time. And I know that she wouldn't want to be without me 50% of the time.
Good lord, I had no intention of being this wordy. Essentially my question is - I can tell you LOVE your kids like crazy. How did you manage in those early days/weeks/months to let them go? Did they miss you? Do you feel comfortable with them in ex's care?
Again, sorry for all this. I really admire how you've handled yourself through your divorce, and am so happy that you're getting your 'happily ever after'.
I'm going to be totally honest: I was so exhausted with single-mommying a 9 year old, a 5 year old, and a 22 month old who was screaming for her dad until 3 am every night, that I wasn't at first so worried about sharing them with him. It was sort of like when you have a newborn and you are so exhausted that you would do anything for sleep. I was so desperate for help that I was more than happy to let them go on Wednesday nights-I was just in survival mode.
It was only after I started to get my head above water that I started to panic a little bit about them being under his influence. I am constantly compared to Dad. "Dad lets us eat junk food. Dad lets us stay up late. Dad doesn't make us eat healthy. Dad lets us buy lunch at school". My son had some issues early this year where I could see him beginning to mimic his father's attitude of everything being everyone else's fault. Didn't finish his homework? It's because his sisters had the tv on too loud! Late for school? It's the alarm's fault or my fault for refusing to drive him! It was so bad that we had to go to therapy for it, and thanks to that and hopefully the example that my husband and I set for him, he's turned that attitude around completely and beginning to understand choices and responsibility.
So while I do have constant worries about my ex's poor attitude and choices rubbing off on the kids, I don't have to worry about them otherwise in his care, because he really does love them and tries to be a good father. I came to enjoy having built-in quiet nights every week, and while I do miss them, they're back home before it gets too bad. (I also have a unique situation where I work from home, so I'm here the minute they get home from school, and take 2 out of 3 of them to school every single morning.)
When I worry about his influence on them, I feel strongly that it's something I just have to let go of. I had to weigh the pros and cons when I decided to leave him, and when I thought about my two daughters growing up and being stuck in a marriage like I was in, it made me more sad than thinking of sharing time with him. I wanted them (and my son) to see, by my example, that it is not ok to let someone treat you like crap. I wanted them to see that we DO have a choice--we can leave a bad situation and be independent and not only survive, but thrive without anyone's help. And while that would have been good enough for me, my kids ended up getting the bonus of a strong husband, father, and relationship role when I met Mr. Wonderful. Everyday that they see us together, that he takes an interest in them being raised with high morals and standards, that he shows them by example that you don't lie to get out of trouble, that we get through conflict and still love each other afterwards...they are building an example in their subconscious of what to look for as grown-ups, and hopefully they can end up in the same type of relationships.
My own mom stayed with my dad for 30 years, unhappy and lonely and miserable, because she didn't want to disrupt our lives. While I respect her for that and can appreciate where she was coming from, what ended up happening was that I was perfectly fine with the same for myself because it was all I knew. Everyday was "I just need to get through until the kids are grown" "This was the choice I made and now, for them, I have to stay". In a way, when he cheated, it gave me a little bit of an out to leave; and I HOPE broke the cycle for the kids.
I am by no means encouraging anyone to divorce. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life and is one of those decisions that, of course, requires a lot of time and soul searching and research and meditation to say the least. But I always think the best question that helped me in all decisions was, what would I want my own daughter to do? Because we love them more than we love ourselves.
I hope that helped, and good luck to you !!