Notes From a Single Mom: Scrambled Lives—Sometimes, I Don’t Recognize My Own Kids

Lynn Armitage
5/6/12


“But, Mom, we LIKE scrambled eggs!”

That was a new one.  I had been trying to get my girls to eat scrambled eggs for years. Then one morning, this revelation.

“We eat them all the time at dad’s house!”

Come to find out, my children are leading double lives, too. And here I thought I was having all the fun.

In a way, my daughters are strangers to me, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Parent/child alienation isn’t supposed to happen until the teenage years. But thanks to shared custody—and two, separate households—we have an early jump on it.

Every other weekend, my children reinvent themselves. They come home from their father’s house with new discoveries, new interests, new “new ones.” With their dad, they hike. (I hate to hike out of deference to snakes.) They snowboard. (I enjoy watching the snow from the window next to a crackling fire.) They ride horses. (I prefer cars.) They know all the latest bands and words to songs I’ve never heard. (Who is “Red Jumpsuit Apparatus,” anyway?) And they frolic with their new puppy, Roxy. (They completely ignore our old dog, Higgins.)

It’s like I’m raising four daughters, not two.

While I’m certainly not advocating divorce, my children have been enriched by it. Their world has doubled in size and opportunities. Ever since the divorce, their father and I have developed separate passions and different hobbies to which our children are now exposed. And I think that’s a good thing. With me, my daughters play tennis, bang out “Chopsticks” on the piano and rollerblade. With their father, they mountain bike, listen to K-Rock radio station and watch “The Simpsons.”

At least they’re well-educated in the fine arts.

Recently, my ex got re-married. Our divided worlds are now more divided. Through this splintering process, my girls have inherited a whole new set of relatives on their stepmom’s side. My oldest daughter talks about her “new grandpa” and her “new cousin” in Minnesota. Seems strange that my own flesh and blood are connected to people they don’t know, who don’t know them and who I’ll never meet. All those lectures about never talking to strangers—down the drain. Shoot, now they’re related to them.

Would it be tacky to run a background check on these new relatives?

Looking at the big picture, my daughters have twice the exposure to life, double the fun, two dogs and a wider circle of family and community. So why do I feel so sad? Truthfully, it hurts that I’ve been banished from part of their world.

Scrambled emotions.

Just when you think you know your own children, along comes divorce and changes everything.

Lynn Armitage has happily added scrambled eggs to the breakfast menu. She is an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.

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