How can I take care of my child

From Anita Zulauf

One understands that a woman leaves a man. But the children? Such behavior is met with icy incomprehension. Not only in the family, also in the circle of acquaintances, even in society as a whole.

It was just before Christmas, on December 16th. Snow fell from the sky in thick flakes. It was bitterly cold when Saskia Jufer left her husband and children. She knew: "I'm not coming back."
Saskia Jufer, now 44 years old, mother of two daughters, says in retrospect: “My husband Stefan and I were married for 17 years, got on well, we had the same thoughts, lived an open relationship, it was 'e suberi Sach'. »
The first child came after the marriage. Saskia was 26 at the time and became a full-time mom. He worked as a train driver. She loved her children, her husband. She had everything under control, everything had to be perfect: children, home, garden, marriage. She made decisions alone, he stayed out of it. "What I wanted was right for him, everything went so well." Sometimes she wished for a kick from him, something spontaneous, crazy. But that wasn't his way. And life was good. The sex too. Nobody wanted anymore.

I am not coming back

Until shortly before 40. “It just happened to me then. The way others have their fate, that's what happened to me. I didn't like it anymore. I couldn't smell it anymore. " Why? "I can not explain. It was the chemistry that was no longer right. " His aftershave, his toothpaste, his hair, his skin. His blink, his laugh. "I couldn't take him anymore." She talked to him about it. He said, “I can't do anything. You have changed."
She went to the gym, lost 50 pounds, cared about appearance. «I felt great, thought I was absolutely beautiful. Even if it sounds stupid, I felt like a woman for the first time. " But she no longer wanted to share her womanhood with him.
The other one looks good. His interest is exciting. That flatters. He doesn't give up, he's charming. Funny, different. It's exciting. She wants to uproot trees. She enjoys it for a year. Then she wants him. She tells her husband. “I thought maybe something will come from him now, maybe he'll knock me off, yell at me, stupid cow, I don't want to lose you. Maybe he's fighting for me now, with sword and armor. " But there is no argument, no discussion, «no running away or a kick in the ass». He's just silent. “Maybe he thought it was over. You have to sit out. “Six weeks later he wants to know what's going on. "I told him I didn't mean to lie." He throws the ring on the table.

Raven mother, Emanze, skinny chick

She knows she's going. "I could hardly expect him to move out." He's not trying to change her mind. Only once does he say: "If you want, you can stay." She doesn't want to, finds an apartment in the neighboring town of Fraubrunnen. She is tense, nervous, insecure, full of lust for life. But then the new relationship is over in one fell swoop. “It was too much for him. He didn't want to take part. It was very painful. I loved him very much. " That doesn't change anything about her decision. Not for a second. A few days before she moves out, Saskia learns that her husband has a girlfriend. "I knew then that I was only part of a picture that he is now replacing with another."
The family becomes the talk of the village. Few say: "You have courage, I would too if I could." Most of them say bad mother, crazy Emanze, wants to realize herself, to make up for what she has missed, regardless of the children. How can you. You don't tell her to your face, the children hear it on the street. It hurts. Friends distance themselves. The best friend no longer speaks to her. The social contacts freeze. The pressure is great. She stands up to him.

I felt great, thought I was absolutely beautiful.

The apartment is small. Two and a half rooms. She can't afford more. Ricardo's furniture, the kitchen from the 80s. She gets a job at the medical emergency call center in Bern. Full time. "I had to pay alimony." She had asked the children if they would go with her. She was hoping they would. The girls were 12 and 16 years old. They did not want. They showed solidarity with their father and were angry. "Stupid, skinny chick," said the older woman, angry. She knew she had someone else, was sad and hurt. The younger one cried: «Why don't you stay. Maybe just for me too? " It did not work. She said: "I'm going away, but I will always be with you."

I got to know each other

“It burned like fire in my stomach. I had to leave the most important part of myself behind. " Still she goes. And when she unlocks the door of her apartment, she feels like 20. "I felt free from him, so good, so new. It was so right. " The first days are exciting. Furnish, buy pans, pots, toothbrush glasses, make everything new, everything beautiful. She enjoys being free and knowing the children are fine, he takes care of them. But she also has a guilty conscience. I thought: "Don't get excited too soon, you've done something bad."
The weeks go by. Everyday life moves in. Your emotions go on a roller coaster. On the one hand, freedom that tastes good. There the loss of the children, of the new love. She doesn't know how to endure.
She lives in isolation. Only the younger daughter comes to eat regularly. "She enjoyed it and so did I." The older one doesn't come, her anger lingers. Holidays are the horror, weekends too. "If I hadn't worked, I would have died." Months go by. Then the older daughter comes to visit, soon more often, soon with pleasure. But the girls never want to stay, for a night or so. "I'm just visiting, this is not my place," they said. The mother dreams of a life with her daughters.
Her sister stands by her, as does her mother. That gives her courage: “Try to use what you have now. It's a chance for you, it's your party. Make something of it." «I wanted my strength and my happiness back. I had to fight for that. I really got to know each other for the first time. If I had stayed, I would have been broken. "

It burned like fire in my stomach: I had to leave the most important part of myself behind: my children.

The children are doing well with their father. But his changing partners make them trouble. The father is often away in the evenings. The girls don't want a strange woman. "I knew they needed me, they miss me." But she stays out of it, has nothing to say, cannot say anything. For a long time she doesn't dare to say what she would like. But then she does it anyway, asks her husband: "How about if I go back into the house and you move out." And he says: okay. «It was like before. I gave the input and he agreed. Maybe he was a little relieved too. Because his everyday life with shift jobs and two pubescent girls was certainly no picnic. Perhaps he also thought that it would only be fair if I took over the children now. "

The scars remain - on everyone

Saskia Jufer now lives in Grafenried again. Ricardo's furniture is in place, the boxes are unpacked. "Now I see my girls sitting at the morning table again, with messy hair and in pajamas, taciturn, and I know that this is what I had dreamed of." What is it like to come back “I had a lot of respect, and it's not always easy either. There is often trouble, the children probably never forgive completely. " But they are happy that the mother is back: "It's just Mommy," says the younger one.
Neighbors and acquaintances take note of her return, but do not comment on her. Is her husband the raven father now? «We have 'nüüt söttigs heard'."
Life is different today. “A liberated one,” she says. Even so, the story has left scars. With her, the children, and probably with her husband too. Would she do it again, like that? "Just like that."

In this story, there isn't that one day that it's gone forever. It was rather longer and longer absences. She went and came and went. They called it a relationship vacation, tried to mend, went to the couple therapist, wanted to work it out. Finally she took an apartment. Even then, the hope was not dead yet. Only on the day of the court order for separation. Georg Mattmüller knew then that this is how it is now and that it will stay that way. "Like turning a Word into a PDF."

At some point she started walking

It was love at first sight. He was 18. She was a little older. He knew it was her, he wanted to stay, love and live with her. And if you know what you want, why wait? The first child came soon, and shortly before the second they married. Then he was twenty-two and a student. You in training. Then two years later the third child. "The times were good," says Georg Mattmüller.
But children, studies and jobs make demands, they do work, and they leave little time. “The problems came insidiously,” he says. In all areas: looking after the children, resilience, money. "Your idea of ​​family has not come true," says Mattmüller. And at some point she started walking away. Until she stayed away. The children were three, five and eight years old. Two girls, one boy. You stayed with your father. He was 27 years old.
"I felt deeply sad that we had failed," says Georg Mattmüller. But with the finality came relief, relief. "To live in constant rifts required an enormous amount of energy." Now he could take a deep breath, rely on himself. "There were obligations again, life became easier in a certain way." Also for the children who suffered because their parents kept fighting and because their mother kept going away. “When it was definite, I also felt a certain relief from them,” says Mattmüller. But they were sad, insecure. Where is mom now, what's next? And when mom has left, will dad just leave at some point? "The fear of loss was great," says Mattmüller.
They lived on the outskirts of Basel. In a single-family house that Mattmüller was able to rent from his mother. The court did not award him any alimony. He should have sought an advance in court. “But I didn't have the strength to do that,” says Georg Mattmüller. He was soon kicked out of his studies. “I had neither time nor a free head,” he says. He worked, cleaned old people's homes for the church and stacked parcels at the post office. These part-time and shift jobs gave him more time for the children. Nevertheless, he was dependent on outside care. "I was lucky with great neighbors, the network of friends and my family." The ex-wife lived nearby, regular contact would have been possible, but did not take place. Everyday life with the children was a lot of organizing, enormously exhausting. "Going back and forth between job, swimming lessons, school, kindergarten and housework, washing, vacuuming, cooking," Mattmüller enumerates and draws the conclusion: "You're always running, every day anew." And yet he has the feeling that it is never enough; he knows the guilty conscience that the children come up short despite everything.

The idea of ​​living together did not come true

Still: «It was nice to live with the children. We lived intensively and closely together, did a lot, went out a lot, had a large circle of friends and acquaintances. I saw her childhood up close. If we had been a normal family, I would have become a full-time dad who would have missed a lot. "
Do girls who live with their father grow up with Indian feathers instead of spangles in their hair? Mattmüller laughs: "No, no, we had the whole program with dolls, ruffles and nail polish." And the typical teenage things like putting on make-up, hairdressing or the first period “I could give it to friends of the family”.

The papa was in the spotlight

But Mattmüller thinks there are differences. Men may educate more freely, more easily, less happily. For example, when the children run around without a hat on cool days, when the laces flap around, or when he has stayed out of the children's sandpit rubbing for the first time. Then there were always unsolicited inputs, well-intentioned tips, remarks and advice. “By women, of course. Probably simply because men don't know how to deal with children. " And he was annoyed, countered and at some point just ignored it.
Nevertheless: He was definitely an exception, the single father with the three small children. "The school friends - mums were greedy for bad mother stories and literally rushed to all kinds of information," he says. The papa was in the spotlight. "People I didn't know at all knew who I was and thought they knew my story." This talkativeness and this whispering became too much for him. But a single man can be sure of the admiration of many women. «You're kind of interesting. Of course, that flatters you, ”says Mattmüller. "But if you want to get to know a woman and not a stepmother, you already have three children in tow and are soon only moderately or no longer interesting."

The mother lived so close and yet was so far away. That hurt.

Georg Mattmüller is 43 years old today. He is sitting in his office in Basel. He works as managing director of the disabled forum in Basel. The story of how he became a single father is now 17 years old. "It's the grief that stays because we didn't make it as a family." Scar? «Yes, there are. With the children as with me. " For the son it was probably the least bad. "He was a bit older and could deal with everything better." The two girls were hit harder. "They missed their mother very much, the female role model, copying, imitating, delimiting, confrontation, everything that it takes to become a woman." And the fact that the mother lived so close and yet was so far away hurt. The girls' puberty was also severe. “There were arguments and bickering from morning to night. As a single parent, you get the whole load off, ”says Mattmüller. "I felt as if I had been eaten up, the children were pushing me to the limit of my strength."

The girls lacked the role model

The experiences shaped him very much. So he didn't want to move in with a woman right away. "I could never have done that to my children." He didn't want to organize a surrogate mother for them. And not a substitute partner. Even today he still lives in a two-room partnership. Is there also the fear of failing again? "For sure. You don't look for your misfortune a second time. "