Separation: The Aftermath


So I have been tapping my fingers on my laptop for three days now, wondering how on earth to follow up the last post I did. This is the fifth time I’ve started writing something, all previous words have been deleted in frustration.

Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who commented, tweeted, emailed, text… I have felt really loved. The stories and kind words I’ve been sent have really helped and left me feel a lot more positive about the future. And positive is one thing I really am feeling at the moment: I’ve gone from being terrified of being on my own 6 months ago to living alone and thriving. I’ve learned so much about myself, what I’m capable of and what I want out of life.

The hardest thing in this whole process is the affect the split is having on the kids. Specifically on Elfie, Hux is too young to understand what’s going on. When Will first went to stay elsewhere I had a couple of heartbreaking weeks of her asking where her Daddy was, and saying that she was so sad that Daddy wasn’t at home. It was awful and I know Will found these early phone calls with her just as hard as I did. Her behaviour declined and she became clingy and anxious. She seems to have emerged out of the other side of this bad patch though and is as confident and happy as ever.

The split has had a positive experience on them in other ways, however. Both Will and I are spending a lot more quality time with them, going to toddler groups, crafting, cooking, visiting playgrounds. They now seem to feel very happy and I hope they continue to.

I’ve been surprised at the affect this has had on our friends. I expect from the outside our relationship has always looked pretty solid: probably because we’ve always been such good friends and have had no big public fallings out. I think a lot of people have been shocked at our news, as not only were we the first in our friendship group to get married but we’re also one of the first to split.

The questions I feel we need to ask each other are endless… do I change my name back? Do we get a quickie divorce or wait until we’ve lived apart for two years? Is Will going to get a permanent base up here or just have a place in London? Should I move back to London? What is a fair custody share if I’m working from home? What do we do at Christmas? How soon can I afford to do this on my own? ARGH! If anyone can enlighten me to the above, please do.

Single motherhood, let’s be having you.

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  1. Dorota Overbeck wrote:

    I was shocked by your news as I have been reading your blog and always been a bit jealous of your perfect family life. I was like you the first to get married and the only one to get divirced. I split from my husband of 4 years in 2008 when my daughter Isabella was nearly 2. I’m a full time doctor and I wasn’t willing to conpromise my career so we decided to have shared custody. I do regret it now because I need my ex permission to go on holidays abroad, do Christmas and in not particuraly good in sharing.
    We had 6 months of trial separation first and then went on to get divorce. I never regret it. However, I have been feeling guilty a lot because of Isabella. I lernt to live with this permanent guilt.
    In 2010 I started a new relationship and we are still together but not married. We have a 8 month old child. I’m sure that my separation from Bellas dad affected her but she is externally happy child. She has me for 4 days and her dad 3 days weekly. She loves Tim my partner and she doesn’t really remember how things were before he came along.
    Good luck to you. Am sure you will figure something out. Xxx

    Posted 5.14.13 Reply
  2. Absolutely no idea what to advise, but I have two friends who divorced young and they are thriving now. I am sure whichever decision you make, it will have a positive outcome! Oh, and yes, I would personally move back to London, unless you have a huge support network where you are! Good luck. Raminta x

    Posted 5.14.13 Reply
  3. Eilidh wrote:

    I’m glad the kids are coping well. As for moving – where is your support network? I know I’d like to stay nearest them. Xo

    Posted 5.14.13 Reply
  4. My oldest boys dad and I share our time with him. Our boy is 4 and we live a short walking distance from each other (neither of us have a car). His dad has him 3 days a week (2 week days and 1 weekend day) and I have him 4. I have him every Christmas and will do until he requests to be with his dad for Christmas should he want to. This would be incredibly tough for me, but if he wanted it that way, I would respect that. It works easily for us as his dad isn’t that sentimental about the holiday and I am. We both go away seperately with our boy and whilst I take him away for 2 weeks at a time, he is only ever away from me for a maximum of 6 days. I won’t have it be any longer. It takes time and a lot of communication but you will find a way to make it work. Try your best to not feel guilty. I personally don’t in any way feel guilty as I believe I have made the best choice for my boy. I grew up with unhappy parents and my boy gets to have two happy parents, they just happen to be separate.

    Posted 5.14.13 Reply
  5. Karen Whittaker wrote:

    It was sad to read your news, but having been in your position I can tell you that things do work out. I was separated from my children’s father when they were 5 and 3 (so a bit older than yours) and it has now been 11 years.

    He moved away from where we were living, but I stayed put as this was the place the children knew, they were happy and settled at school and nursery and my support network of friends and family is here.

    I can’t pretend it has all been plain sailing and times like when he got married, goes on lots of holidays, buys new gadgets, clothes, cars etc can still get to me, especially when he pleads poverty in relation to the children. The one thing I have never done though is to speak ill of him to them whatever the circumstances…what goes around comes around I find, so best not to open up that opportunity.

    I have always had the children at Christmas, that’s the way they wanted it when they were younger (how would Father Christmas know they were at another house when they always lived with me) and it has just become our little family tradition. We see family in the morning and then have a wonderful late Christmas lunch with presents, games and TV together in the afternoon and evening. In fact I have had them pretty much 24/7 365 days of the year as when they were young he only wanted one at a time…sorry, they are a brother and sister package!…then football matches and dancing shows entered their weekends…but I love it. They speak to their Dad every day and I find that this alleviates lots of anxieties and issues.

    They are now brilliant teenagers, who do well and school and in everything else they do. They love each other immensely and always look out for each other…they do fight at home, but you can’t have everything. Above all, we are all HAPPY.

    Hang on in there…I promise you that you will look back, think it was tough to start with and then marvel at how well you have succeeded!

    Posted 5.15.13 Reply
  6. Alex wrote:

    Please don’t move back to London…. I need you!!xx

    Posted 5.15.13 Reply
  7. From fun to mum wrote:

    yes, move back to London!! (this might be a selfish advice)

    I’m sure you guys will figure out what works specifically for you both financially and practically. My mum was a widow at a very young age and we were only 3 and 5 so we were raised ‘by a village’ which was nice. Wherever you end up (London please!) try and make sure that help (Will, family and friends) are not too far. That would make me sleep better at night I think

    Good luck

    Posted 5.15.13 Reply
  8. Hayley wrote:

    There is no deadline on anything and do what you want to do! Separation and divorce are only essentially different by a piece of paper (o:

    There is no right or wrong…ask for people’s advise, but ignore their opinions!

    Everyone’s situation is different…trial and error works wonders…and accept that nothing has to be set in stone.

    My best advice is to don’t be afraid to have bad days…Everyone does (o:


    Posted 5.15.13 Reply
  9. Margarita wrote:

    In my own post-partum haze I’ve missed so much! Firstly, I want to give you a hug, huge virtual hug, nay, a group hug – all the babies & the mamas in a huge hug.

    Secondly I admire your strength, you have really shown what a strong woman you are – from battling your own depression to making great life choices that will better you and your family’s futures.

    I have no advice unfortunately, but I think you are strong and smart and you’ll figure out what to do, slowly and surely !

    Good luck mama!

    Posted 5.15.13 Reply
  10. Honestmum wrote:

    Only just read your news now-so sorry to hear of your split, thinking of you. Friends of mine in the same position are reaching out to family and are managing well. You’re a strong lady with a lot of love around you and things will work out x

    Posted 5.16.13 Reply
  11. Becky wrote:

    Hi Alice, I don’t have much advice, but just hope you’re doing ok? As someone mentioned above, trial and error is probably the way forward initially, and trust your gut instinct with a lot of things- often more reliable than you might think. For what it’s worth, I would prob stay where there was a good a support network (i.e. babysitters!), although where you live is so close to London that maybe you could be living either as it’s only a short train ride to London (if family was prepared to travel to help you out?). Friends of ours who split when their two children were 3 and 2 semi-share custody- he has them on wed and thur nights and then every other weekend, although this works because they still live near each other and he lives near the children’s school. They often each take them on seperate holidays and they alternate christmases. Again, please feel free to ignore (possibly dishing out unwanted opinion here!) but if it were me and I knew there was definitely no going back in the relationship, I would look to divorce fairly quickly if I could afford it. My parents dragged out getting divorced after separating and it seemed to delay their ability to move on, not sure why, maybe just a mental block over still being officially married? Although at the same time you want to be 100% sure- no one wants to do a Liz and Dick! But that’s my folks, this is you, you’ll know what to do for the best. x

    Posted 5.16.13 Reply
  12. Bean wrote:

    Sorry to read your news. However, it’s lovely to read how positive you are feeling and I’m certain that everything will be ok in the end :-) x

    Posted 5.16.13 Reply
  13. Emma wrote:

    Hi Alice,

    I have been reading your blog a while and I suppose I’ve always had similar thoughts to other readers in that you pretty much had a very happy marriage.
    I just wanted to add some comments having separated from my daughters father when she was 2, nearly 3.
    The best advice I can give is remain on the very best terms you can with the children’s father. I told my ex.partner from the very beginning that I would always turn the other cheek if he even began an argument. I have to confess it has meant a lot more compromise from my side but I live with the satisfaction that my daughter has always ever seen us happy together. She is now 11 and a lovely balanced child. I have another relationship now and a 3 year old boy who adores his sister and likewise she adores him.
    My daughters father and I still take her out together for her birthdays and regular meals. I also get on famously with his girlfriend – something he feels is a bit wierd but works for me and again Amelia sees her Mum and Dads girlfriend getting on which is great.

    All I would say is all of the above has taken time, hard work and a lot of tongue biting by me but I’m happy to say that everything has worked out for everyone involved for the better.

    Wishing you lots of luck but I think you seem to have a great circle of support which always help.


    Posted 5.18.13 Reply
  14. Erin wrote:

    Hi Alice,

    I was deeply saddened to hear of your separation. This must be such a hard time for you but you will come out the other end happier for it I am sure! :)

    My advice to you would to keep ‘Harold’ as your surname as your children are going to start school and it is easier to have the same name as your children.

    With regards to Christmas depending on your feelings towards Will is invite Will round on Christmas morning so he can see the children opening their presents and they can see their daddy! its a win win situation.

    I wouldn’t recommend moving to London just yet! You will be sad and lonely at times (Happens to us all) who do you need more during that time? your mum! :) you can cry,moan and rant as often as possible without getting fed up!

    Hugs and Kisses to you and your family during this trying time.

    Posted 5.23.13 Reply
  15. Rachael wrote:

    You’ll be okay. It’ll all work out, because these things always do. It’s a weird thing, isn’t it? I was in one of those marriages where everyone thought we were happy and everything was wonderful (and like you, blogging about life and stuff meant that people saw just one side of that life). When we split up we shocked family, friends and everyone around us, not least because we were on the verge of moving to Canada.

    I did change my name – I wanted myself back, and my children (all old enough to express an opinion, being between 6 and 13 now) were happy with that. And I got divorced straight away because I wanted to be divorced and have a clean break – it meant one of us had to accept blame, but that didn’t matter, and we have a good working relationship as parents and get on well. What I would say is if you have a support network around you in the shape of family and old friends, stay where you are for a bit, unless you can be sure of support and babysitters when you move back to London. You can always escape to town when they children are with their father. Much love xx

    Posted 6.10.13 Reply