“When’s the last time I was fun?”

I asked the question as innocently as I could. But they had no answer except an overwhelming collective stunned silence.

We had been discussing my divorce from their father and my impending move to an apartment all my own, which understandably upsets them very much. I was trying to convey to them that one of the reasons for the very big change in their lives was my profoundly held belief that this was the price everyone would have to pay for the closest thing we could all have to a happy family life.

In other words, this would suck big hairy balls but not as bad as trying to stay in the same house would.

****

I should not have married their father. He’s a good guy, don’t get me wrong. But there were two huge problems that were obvious even before the wedding day that I chose to ignore: 1) as good a man as he is, he never was the right man for me; and 2) even if the right man had been at the altar, I should not have married him because, to put it bluntly, I am not wife material.

I’m a free spirit. A writer. A somewhat unstable (some people say flaky) artist. A person who absolutely needs freedom to create. I am also, in case that wasn’t obvious, a weirdo. An infuriatingly contrarian one at that. I realize that doesn’t make me sound particularly awesome. I don’t care. I think normal is overrated anyway.

It’s a bit late to go back now and redo my life. Besides, as I keep saying to the offspring I adore, without this “mistake” they wouldn’t exist and I would not send them back for all the money in the world even if it was possible which it isn’t.

So yeah. I am a weird immature loner. I need to be the way I am or else I’ll slowly disappear into nothingness and my life will have been for naught. Well, not quite. I am incredibly proud of my kids. Best thing I ever did. But without taking anything away from them, there is much else outside of motherhood I need to do with my life. You’re welcome to call me selfish if that makes you feel better. It’s been done before.

****

The constant tension in this marriage was almost too much to bear right from the start. But we are two spectacularly strong-willed individuals (OK, OK, he’s strong-willed, I’m just stubborn) and we soldiered on regardless.

Eventually the tension became unbearable. But the kids were still young so his strong will and my pig head said, no matter, we shall bear the unbearable and make this work for the sake of the children.

Yes. That.

We did bear the unbearable for several years. But there’s yet another but. As I wrote elsewhere, on top of not being wife material, I’m overwhelmingly not mom material.

What I am is a mother. I love my kids with a fierceness I didn’t know I was capable of. But for me the mom and wife jobs get in the way of that love. They make me shout and bitch and moan and it’s just a mess.

So recently it became obvious it was time to break these roles apart. Separate the mother from the wife and the mom.

I am not, and I strongly insist on this, walking away from my children. Quite the opposite. I’m removing that which prevents me from being the best mother I can be. A somewhat unusual mother, perhaps. But the best one I, personally, can be.

No, at the moment they don’t see it that way. They are, understandably, upset by the change. They will be for some time.

I wish there had been a way to avoid that. But there wasn’t. I was going to get increasingly difficult to live with, so consumed by the mom role that the mother would have disappeared.

It’s not something I can ask them to understand at this point. The only thing I’m trying to convey to them is that I love them and want the best for them. And the best isn’t a stressed-out bitch of a mother. I knew when I asked them when I was last fun that they wouldn’t be able to answer. I’m no fun at all in this house.

****

I have thought long and hard about this. For nearly ten years. I know I haven’t been fun in, like, ever. I know I’m tense all the time. I know they suffer from that, too, even if they don’t see it because they’re used to it.

I want to be the best mother I can be for those wonderful human beings I spawned. I can only be that at a (short) distance. To me, this wasn’t even a choice.