With the admission of her emotional affair, Pippi’s 11-year marriage came to an abrupt end. It took Pippi just three weeks to move out to a one-bedroom apartment and the beginning of her new life. That new life, began with a trip to her parents:
It was the first trip I ever took alone. It was liberating. I wasn’t scared about traveling alone. It was just good to be with my parents by myself and to do what I wanted I to do.
It wasn’t that my husband ruled me with an iron fist. I just couldn’t stand up for myself and I didn’t have the guts to say, “I’m going to Buffalo this weekend by myself. I’d like you to watch the kids.” [Pippi’s boys were eight and six at the time] He would have pouted and been miserable the whole weekend. I would have heard about it every time I talked to him on the phone. I didn’t want to deal with the pouting and the moods. It was a really bad dynamic.
Living in a one-bedroom apartment was difficult. The arrangement was that I would pick the boys up every day after school and keep them with me, feed them, bathe them, and help them with homework. Then he would pick them up around 7 p.m. because they had beds at his house.
This went on for nine months. It was awful because I had to see him every single day. I didn’t always go out to the car but I would watch for his car to pull in. He wouldn’t look at me, he wouldn’t talk to me. I was able to use the money from my IRA to buy a town home. So the boys had their own room and I had a room. Finally, I got to a point where I said,
“I’d like to propose an alternate agreement. I’d like to propose an every-other day, every-other weekend schedule because I think the boys are too young to do one week on, one week off and I don’t want that.”
He agreed and this really does work for us.
Now I’m moved in with my boyfriend and renting out that town home. I read blog posts that say “unless you’re married, it’s just not the right thing to do,” but I feel we’re in a committed relationship and the boys are doing great. My boyfriend was spending so much time with us that it just felt like the right thing to do.
I think it’s added stability to the boys. Rather than us going over to my boyfriend’s house with their backpacks every weekend, they have their own bedroom there now. Our former marital home is now daddy’s house.
The boys have really done well and I’m so proud of them. And me, I’ve learned not fear my ex-husband.
Once again, I’m getting a sense from this story of Pippi’s quiet determination. It could have been easy for Pippi to use not being able to afford a bigger apartment as an excuse not to leave. But she didn’t. By then she’d already spent several years getting into a work position that provided the income to support herself and her children. And she was ready to leave. From her one-bedroom apartment, she then figured out how to get her own place. Step by step, slowly but surely. Remember Aesop’s tortoise and the hare fable?
I also like how Pippi and her ex worked out a parenting arrangement that worked for them and their children. I think it’s a little unusual (although I’m told that mine is more traditional and less typical these days) but what’s most important is that it is what they wanted. Many people say that staying out of court is the key to successful parenting plan.
Judge Harvey Brownshire in his Secret to a Successful Divorce asks, “How can two parents who love their child allow a total stranger to make crucial decisions about their child’s living arrangements, health, education, extracurricular activities, vacation time, and degree of contact with each parent?”
Although Pippi, didn’t say much about it in our interview, I thought it was significant that she no longer feared her husband and I think that says much about Pippi’s personal growth. That’s not the only area of growth. In my last post,in Pippi’s series, Pippi shares her enjoyment of just being her authentic self.