Most people I know dread Mondays. But not me. I fucking HATE Tuesdays.
Tuesday is our switch day. The day my mostly adorable, at-times demonic, cherubs return from their dad’s house. And it’s nearly always, quite certainly, an episode straight out of some bad soap opera. You know, the ones with the super dramatic crying, where everyone’s fighting and screaming and spilling the tea and no one really knows why?
If you’re in a shared custody situation, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve not-so-affectionately nicknamed it “Tell-All Tuesday,” “Tuesday Meltdown” or “The Confessional.” Three years ago when we first divorced, I began to notice a pattern. Picking Avery and Christian up after school, I was always eager and excited to see them - having been separated anywhere between 3-5 days. Stupidly, I’d set my expectations for the evening with hopes of cuddles, movies, lots of kisses and hugs and shared attention. But instead, I was met with sobbing, screaming, some sort of power struggle, and a confession of epic proportions. In lieu of sweet snuggles with my spawn, I’d be cozying up to a pint of ice cream, asking myself “What the FUCK was that?!”
It took me a few months, conversations with friends who’d been divorced, a therapy appointment or two, a healthy amount of Googling, and a number of key articles online before I was able to understand these outbursts were Avery and Christian’s means of coping and processing the different households and the switching in between. Faced with two very different sets of rules and expectations, they’d learned to hold in many of their emotions and feelings while with their dad. When they finally made it back to me, they unloaded. I was home - a safe space where they could release everything they’d pent up for a few days. And boy did they go off like a spoiled toddler who’d just been denied their favorite toy in Wal-Mart.
This pattern left me feeling both flattered and defeated. Flattered that my kids “chose me” as their refuge - someone who would allow them to feel all the feels and express themselves accordingly, whether that meant screaming at me for no reason, refusing to take a shower and slamming doors in my face, or crying as they revealed secrets they’d been holding onto. Defeated in the sense that, as a single mama who spent her days giving her emotional energy to the teenagers she taught, had barely anything leftover to routinely deal with this. I couldn’t fucking stand Tuesdays.
Three years of this shit and I’ve gained a coping strategy or two. I often arrive with chocolate or candy (I’m not above winning over their love and positive affection with food). I’ve thrown expectations to the wind (“Oh, you don’t want to shower tonight? Eh, screw it.”). I’ve learned to expect the unexpected (“You need to tell me something later in private?” Oh for fuck’s sake, what could THAT be?!). In short, Tuesdays have become a day of survival. Roll with it or get rolled over. I’ve discovered I quite like rolling…
So I write this tonight, sitting here in the quiet silence of my empty home, my mini labradoodle Sadie the Spawn of Satan chewing on her stuffed pig directly on top of my lap, wondering what fresh Hell awaits me tomorrow and reflecting on last Tuesday’s confessions.
“Mom, you should know, today I feel like crying and I don’t know why,” my nearly 11-year-old-hormonal-sometimes-asshole-of-a-daughter says. And I wonder Hmmm… will it be a quiet whimper? Or will she scream at me and sob uncontrollably as she explains how much puberty is ruining her life and wipes her boogers all over my shoulder kind of night?
There’s really no telling which way tomorrow’s shitshow will go. And I’d like to think I’ve gotten better at handling these “episodes” over time. But let’s be honest, kids are about as predictable as Puxatawney Phil and his shadow. So for now, I’m going to enjoy an episode of Sweet Magnolias (Season 2 out on Netflix, mamas!) while I overstuff myself with a slice or two of chicken alfredo pizza. I’m all ears if you’ve got a prediction for tomorrow’s Tell-All. Or if you’re feeling bold, let me know how your Switch Day goes. (But honestly, I’m only looking for solidarity here. I’m not buying that “Our transitions go so smoothly!” Don’t come at me with that toxic positivity bullshit, Karen).
Either way, do me a favor, will ya? Please pray to the Divorce Gods to shine favorably upon me, tomorrow and every Tuesday. Amen.