Relationships, What's On Our Mind

Breaking up is hard to do…and even harder when you have kids

Carla McConnell by Carla McConnell
August 10th, 2015

My ex and I were together for 8 years. We never got married but that was pretty irrelevant to me. I was never that fussed about marriage and when we decided to have kids, that was the biggest commitment I could make to another person. We were tying ourselves together forever through these babies. And that’s exactly what we did because when we broke up, I knew this man would still be part of my life every day until death do us part.

The break-up wasn’t pretty. Have you ever seen a break-up that is? I won’t bore you with the details of our messy break-up  and at the end of the day he is still the father of my children. We still speak everyday, and dare I say it, we are still friends. I think that confuses people because if we can still be friends and respect each other as people then why wouldn’t we still be together? But anyone who has been in the death throes of a relationship knows when it is over and we, as a couple, were so over.

We fought long and hard to save it. We had two beautiful children who we loved more than anything and I would have tried anything to make it work and we did, but it had run its course. When we ended our eight years together, I was full of pain and hurt and darkness about the future. Was this going to fuck up my children? Will they be talking to their psychologist about this moment in 20 years? Am I a bad mother? Am I a bad person? I wrestled with all of this and sometimes still do.

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When we broke up last year our two beautiful daughters were 4-years-old and 10-months-old. We sat down together with our 4-year-old and told her that Daddy would be moving out. It was one of the most horrendous moments of my life. She shrugged her shoulders and turned back to the TV. My whole body ached even though she didn’t really understand what we were telling her. That this decision we had made would rock her little world in many different ways.

I wanted to hate my ex so badly, I wanted to scream at him and blame him for our relationship breaking down. He was the reason I lay in bed every night aching. I could barely muster the energy to get up in the morning, I felt unwanted, unloved, unworthy . How dare he not fight for me, for us? But as time went on I started to see the mistakes that I had also made and that we had stopped being on each other’s team long before we sat our daughter down.

After he left everytime anger consumed me I took a deep breath and thought of what was best for my children. There are times I wished I could have walked away completely and never laid eyes on him again but I am still grateful for this man that I chose to have children with, because when I chose to put my children before my anger he also did the same.

We communicate about school reports and our kid’s new best friends. Sometimes I ring him when they are driving me mental and tell him he needs to take over, even if it is over the phone. We work out our finances so that our children are provided for, we organise family lunches and I still got a kick-ass Mother’s Day present. Our romantic relationship may be over but slowly as the hurt becomes less we have forged a new one, where we can still care for each other and can be part of each other’s lives.

This has not been an easy journey and our break up was pretty platonic. I know not many relationships end quite the same as mine. When my oldest daughter talks about how her Mummy and Daddy don’t live together, she does it without shame, because she knows that Mummy and Daddy are still the team that are her parents. I hope as she gets older she still feels that way, and if she doesn’t I’m pretty sure I’ll call him to work out what we can do.

Over the past year I have found myself moving towards women in the same situation as myself. The school mum who has remarried and doesn’t look at me with the same pity that others do. The childcare mum who is preparing for a major court battle with her ex who won’t communicate in any other way. She remains calm while working full-time, caring for her children and keeping her shit together and I think she is amazing.

I am thankful that is not my reality. We have been separated well over a year. It was a year I will not repeat in a hurry but it has been a year we have blown out birthday candles and opened Christmas presents together. I know, no matter what, my kids have two parents that will one day stand at our daughter’s graduations, weddings, and all their special occasions and go look at these beauties we raised – together.

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