Why I Cry in My Car Every Wednesday at 6:45am

I wake up on Wednesdays with a pit in my stomach. I hear the alarm go off and I immediately become tearful. I hate Wednesdays. Wednesday is the day that my kids go to their dad’s house until either Friday (which I can barely tolerate) or until Monday (which feels beyond awful). After divorce, there is no perfect custody schedule, and this one was the product of careful deliberation and collaboration. I know that it’s in the best interests of my kids. My attempts at rationalization, however, do nothing to temper the devastating heartbreak that I experience every Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday mornings I feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest. I prepare pancakes and cornbread while crying in the kitchen. I hold the tears back when I wake the girls up and get them ready for the school bus. I know that Wednesdays are hard for them too. I hold them tight at the bus stop, and soon as they get onto the 6:43am bus, I give them a big smile and a happy wave. I then walk back to my car and I just sob.

Woman crying in car photo via Shutterstock.

For five minutes, I feel shattered. I feel panicked when I think about my kids not coming home at the end of the day. I wonder if they will be okay in my absence. I feel like the worst mother in the world. And I feel like I don’t know who I am if they are not around.

After five minutes of sobbing, I start to regroup. I remember that they are okay, and that cell phones and iPads keep us connected during the hiatus. I remember how many appointments and activities that I’ve scheduled for myself while they are gone. I slowly start to feel myself returning to a more balanced reality.

At this point I drive directly to the gym. I feel like an intense workout helps to ‘flush’ the sadness out of my chest. The loud music, the endorphins, the athletic and mental challenge, all help to remind me of who I am as an individual. By the end of the workout, I feel happier.

I know that any custody schedule is harder on my kids than it is on me. I sometimes wonder, however, if my heartbreak is my fault. Should I have ‘leaned in’ harder to my career when my kids were babies? Should I be remarried by now? Should I be training for a marathon to give myself more structure when my kids are gone? Sometimes I feel like if I’d made different decisions that I wouldn’t be quite so devastated on Wednesday mornings.

Grief comes in many forms, and you can’t rush the process. I don’t know if Wednesday mornings will ever get easier. I sure hope so.


Lauren Napolitano, Psy.D.
Licensed Psychologist

Originally posted: Why I Cry in My Car Every Wednesday at 6:45am

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