Beloved and Bonk: Diary of a divorce

After a couple of weeks of cold turkey on the weeping front, I'm like a reformed alcoholic frightened to open the drinks' cabinet. Not only do I avoid situations that previously had me awash with running mascara in seconds, I am now actually scared of them. So I've become phobic about all sorts of ridiculous details of my life: opening certain cupboards where Beloved's clothes once hung is now impossible; aisle number 12 in my local supermarket where his favourite biscuits lurk has to be avoided. But seeing Beloved as a bad habit like nail-biting or smoking 20 a day is beginning to work and the addiction of nearly two decades is starting to recede.

Of course my kids' addiction to their father is lifelong, especially as every two weeks they have another dose of Daddy to keep them hooked. Off they go of a Friday night, sky high with nervousness at seeing Beloved. They return on Sunday after a welter of cinema-going, zoo visits and clothes- buying, full of fury. They positively fizz with all thenormal bad behaviour that they have spent the weekend repressing. Because now that Daddy doesn't live with them any more they daren't show him how angry they are with him for leaving in case he stops loving them altogether.

So every other Sunday night my life as punchbag begins. It's the fat lady and the corset principle: you can hold it in in one place but it has to spill out somewhere. Post-Beloved weeks are a war zone, as Bunny and Buster let it all out all over me and each other. I'm no good at peace- making and negotiation. If I'd have been a senior Blue Beret in Bosnia there would be no one left alive there now. So every door in the house is either loose on its hinges or missing a catch, so often are they kicked, slammed and bust open. I am subjected to the kind of creative cheek, defiance and cynicism I thought I would avoid until they hit their teens. After one particularly traumatic evening - when Buster had banged his head rhythmically against the wall for 10 minutes and Bunny had sworn herself to imminent suicide - Buster summed it up for me, "It's like when a mine goes off, Mummy," he said, "you have to poke the ground all around really hard to make sure it's safe." So that's how it works... I am the ground that gets poked and pulverised because of the land mine that Beloved let off in their lives. Ref!!!

It's during weeks like this that I wonder who benefits from these jolly weekends with Beloved. I also have un-maternal fantasies about turning up on Beloved and Bonk's doorstep in a few years' time with my by-then teenage-droopy kids. "Darling," I shall say to Beloved, "I know what a hardship being separated from your children has been, so I've decided to stop being selfish and let you have a turn. Here they are. I'm going on a world tour for 10 years. Bye."

OK, yeah, yeah, I know the theory: in-the-long-run-I'll-be-glad-that- I-was-left-with-the-kids. That-my-relationship-with-them-will-be-better. That-Beloved-is-quite-likely-to-die-a-lonely-old-dog. I know. It's just that sometimes the unfairness of it all gets to me. He jumped off the family bus and left me to drive downhill at a furious pace, with no breaks when I need to sleep or go to the loo. How can you start a new life when you can't even take your eye off the road without going straight for a lamppost?

But really what am I bellyaching about? That he's not here to share the parental burden? When has he ever? He's a victim of the industry in which he works. I know loads of Media Boys whose wives and children operate like single-parent families. My mates and I used to joke about our husbands: "The only way they'll see these kids is if we get divorced." And the bone- chilling bit about that is that it's true. If I put the every-other-weekend scenario on the scales against Beloved's pre-break-up "quality parent time", I know which way they'd tip.

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