Time apart as a divorced family makes for better conversations and stories


I pick my kids up at the airport in a few days after three weeks apart — them in Crete with their dad, me in Copenhagen where I've been hanging out, working and having a pretty amazing time. I was so sad for the first days apart, and have missed them so much. As I wrote here, their dad and I agreed that I wouldn't speak to them often since I realized last year that constant communication only makes us all miss each other, and prevents them and their dad from getting into their own groove.

We did chat on the phone a couple of times, and I was struck by what interested, curious children I have. When I told Lucas, 5, that I had spent the day touring my city by bike, exploring the neighborhoods and many canals, he asked: “Did you go over any draw bridges?” Is that a great question or what?

And after I told Helena, 7, about my day full of museums, food shopping and dinner with a new friend, she asked: “But what are you doing TECHNICALLY?” which, it turns out, meant, What kind of coffee pot did I use to make my morning brew? What did the restaurant look like? What did I wear that day? What do Danish people wear? What did my friend do for work? What did we eat?

I am so proud at what the curious minds of my kids, and appreciate how this time apart can bring us closer, since we will have so much to talk about when we see each other Friday, and how good it will feel to squeeze the crap out of them when I see them, and wake up in the morning when they will cuddle into me in the bed, and we fall into our old routines again.

But in the long view of divorced families, we are constantly re-discovering each other and stitching together two lives that our kids must straddle. It is often an exhausting exercise to re-acquaint ourselves with our children (and vice versa) and constantly re-establish routines — one of the struggles of single motherhood.

The upside is that I see this creating children who are fantastic conversationalists. Through the details of my life outside of mothering them, my kids see me as a person with a full life, and not just a mom. While there is indeed a sweet and deep intimacy that comes with the constant (unrelenting, grinding) care of children, a life of fulltime motherhood simply is not mine. This is my life, and it is your life too. And the details of it can be pretty sweet.

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.


  1. Meg on August 18, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Yes. This. This is my life. And it is SO hard to see and feel grateful for it. You and your column help immensely. Thank you.

    • Emma on August 23, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Look, it is what it is. Best to accept it and make the most of it.

  2. Meg on August 18, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Yes. This.

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