I recently overheard some of my married mom friends discussing how they can't remember the last time they slept past 6:30 a.m, as if their kids waking them up at the crack of dawn was a universal mom problem. As I listened, I suddenly I found myself unexpectedly smirking. I sleep late every other weekend and every Tuesday morning. Divorce sure does have its perks, I thought.
As is often the case with life, I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that divorce is not nearly as awful as I had first anticipated. Once I got through the initial sadness and mastered the art of acceptance, I adjusted nicely to life as a divorcee. I soon caught myself smiling and laughing more often. On the weekends, when the kids were at their dad's house, I discovered creative methods of self-care that helped me embrace my time without the kids rather than sit in misery missing them. All of the pieces started to fit together, and just a few short years after the divorce was finalized, I fell in love with my life again. Here is what I love about life after divorce.
- The B Word (Balance) — A shared custody agreement comes with built-in balance for both parents. I'm forced to take time to myself, away from my children. I've learned to cherish my "off" days and take good care of myself with things like mani-pedis, visits to the gym, and a table for one at the nearest fine-dining establishment.
- Dating at 40? Hell, Yeah! — Dating is fun and exciting. I have new confidence in myself and zero expectations, which makes for a pretty good combo when swiping right. My life is full and complete, and I love myself, so I have nothing to lose in the world of dating. It's exciting to think that The One may still be out there, and that, at 40 years old, the best is yet to come.
- I Like My Ex a Lot More Now That He Isn't My Husband — I consider myself lucky, because I can honestly say that I get along well with my ex-husband. He's the only other person in the universe who loves our three kids as much as I do, and our interactions are restricted to children-related topics and activities only. We coparent and put the kids before everything else, so I'd say we get along about 92 percent of the time, which is pretty good considering our track record.
- Sleep Is Amazing — I may never get married again because I love (like, love with a capital L Love) sleeping alone. I can't ever imagine wanting to sleep in the same bed with another grown adult every single night for the rest of my life. I love my bed, my covers, and my pillows at the temperature of my choice. No snoring. No sleep talking. No one else waking up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, or, God forbid, hitting snooze five times on his alarm clock in the morning. No. Thank. You.
- I Love My Last Name Again — I reverted to my maiden name when I got divorced and it was a decision that plagued me for months. I didn't want to throw salt on the divorce wound and tell the kids, "I'm not a Walsh anymore." It was, however, something I needed to do to remain true to myself and thus it feels right, I have no regrets, and the kids are just fine. Sure, their friends still call me Mrs. Walsh, but hey, IDGAF. I will always be a Hayes.
- Like Destiny's Child, I'm an Independent Woman — I have fixed toilets, hung pictures, packed up moving trucks, painted walls, shoveled the snow, and paid my own bills. I load the dishwasher however I want, leave dishes in the sink overnight, and watch whatever Netflix series I want by myself. Independence feels good.
- I Found Myself — Being a wife and a mom at a young age, I lost myself. I fell into the mom role, not really knowing who I was or what I wanted out of life. Only after I got divorced did I truly find myself. I discovered hobbies that were all mine, I learned my strengths and weaknesses, and I created new goals for myself all because I had the freedom and independence to explore all things me.
- I Can Do It — There were days when I felt as though I could not get it all done. Sometimes the emotional toll of being a divorced mom was too much to bear. But the more I got through those days, the more I learned I could do it, and I would do it. No matter what. I look back on a handful of hard times and I'm proud of myself for getting through it all with strength, courage, and integrity. I use that to power through the next challenge.
- The Kids Are Closer to Each Other — I catch glimpses of my children comforting one another, laughing over private jokes, and even reading bedtime stories to each other. I know they're closer to one another because of the divorce, and for that I'm grateful. They have learned to be there for each other through thick and thin, laughter, and tears, and they're creating bonds that will last a lifetime.
- Silver Linings — Life after divorce has taught me to look for the silver lining in everything. If I can get through the end of a marriage and find blessings in the ultimate failure, well, damn, I can find silver linings in just about anything.