“Oh. Really?! How’s that going to work?”, my friends asked when I told them I was going to be staying in an Airbnb for three days with my ex-husband and our two boys.
See, hotel rooms never worked for my kids. They hate waiting for the elevator and hearing random voices and doors slamming from the communal hallway. They need their space and their own kitchen to make what they want when they want it. Also, since my ex-husband and I share college expenses for our kids, one Airbnb was cheaper than two hotel rooms. We didn’t have to figure out which kid would stay with which parent so he and I didn’t have to sleep in the same room. Divorce leads to awkward logistical situations I never would have previously guessed.
So, when we needed to take our son to his out-of-state college for his freshman year, we decided to stay in an Airbnb. Together.
My friends thought I was nuts.
After all, they had been by my side when my marriage was crumbling and when I told them I was getting divorced. They held my hand as my stomach summersaulted when I went to the courthouse to meet the judge for the first time. They helped me analyze convoluted financial packages my ex told me would be good for me but weren’t. My friends supported me as I moved out of the marital house when he refused to leave. They had faith in me when I lacked the confidence to believe I could survive on my own.
But I had a good plan.
I made sure to find a big enough Airbnb house on a quiet street where everyone had their own room and there was more than one bathroom. With three boys, some memories fade with time, but not that one. No thank you.
Also, years have passed since our divorce and we’re both happily living our own lives. It’s no longer about him and me.
It’s about our kids.
We both dreamed of our son going to college from the time he was a baby so if we didn’t both take him to school for that inaugural drop off, how would we have decided who would do it? Even though my son would help, I didn’t want to be 100% responsible for lugging all the stuff to his dorm room, setting up the “easy to assemble shelf” that didn’t have any instructions, or making the multiple trips to the big box stores to get all the stuff that couldn’t fit in the oversized suitcases we packed. Knowing my ex-husband, he would not have had the patience to set up the room with maximum space saving precision required of Freshman college dorm rooms. He’s just not that kind of person.
So, we did it together.
Time heals most wounds but getting your life back in control after the stress of divorce doesn’t happen on its own. I spent the better part of a year after my 17-year marriage ended and my 18-month divorce was finalized setting myself up for success. I did yoga, met friends to keep social, cooked my own food, went back to school to become an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, started my own business, learned breathing exercises, removed processed foods from my diet, fixed my sleeping issues, gave up caffeine, went on nature walks, and meditated. I trained myself to deal with stress so it wouldn’t eat me up inside. I learned how to stay calm when my buttons were pushed or someone made underhanded remark. I set boundaries and held firm when they were questioned. I learned to compartmentalize so when challenges arose, I didn’t drown in the chaos. I figured out how to let the “thing” happen without it taking me down.
Was everything perfect during the drop off? No. The same things that irritated me when we were married still irritated me. Some comments were made that were uncalled for. On both sides. But, overall, college drop off was a success, and I was proud that I could do it under the circumstances.
So, we launched our eldest son as a family even though we parent from two different homes.
It can be done. Having separate bathrooms really helps.
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