Garcelle Beauvais’s Blog: A Tale of Two Homes
Please help us welcome back celebrity blogger Garcelle Beauvais!
Best known for her roles on The Jamie Foxx Show and NYPD Blue, the actress, 45, formerly starred on TNT’s Franklin & Bash.
Aside from acting, Beauvais just published her children’s book, I Am Living in 2 Homes, the second installment in her I Am series.
Mom to three sons — Oliver, 22, and 6-year-old twins Jax and Jaid — Beauvais supports the Step Up Women’s Network and is also active with March of Dimes, Children Uniting Nations and Yéle Haiti Foundation.
She can be found on Twitter @GarcelleB.
In her latest blog, the actress shares her thoughts on raising her twins in two homes — and how she makes co-parenting a priority.
I recently asked several friends and acquaintances: “What do you think of when you hear the D-word?” Their responses were: “Painful, broken, betrayal, dysfunctional, alimony.”
And when I asked my 6-year-old twins Jax and Jaid the same question, their answer had nothing to do with money, deceit or inconvenience. They both said, “Sad.”
I understand how they feel. My parents split up when I was 3-years-old, and I didm’t see my dad again until I was 14. In my day, children of divorce didn’t grow up with both parents after a marriage broke up. I was with my mom and never really had a relationship with my dad. (Maybe a therapist would say that’s where my issues with men come from — but that’s for another blog!)
Because I had already been through a divorce from my grown son Oliver’s dad, this was the last thing I wanted. In fact, when I was dating Mike (the twins’ dad), I said there are two things that are most important:
1. If you cheat, it’s a deal breaker.
2. If we have children, I never want them split between two homes.
But I guess he didn’t hear me right because both of those things happened.
Based on my own experience as a child of divorce, I knew how important it was for my kids to have both of their parents play an active role in their lives. This is why it’s so important for my kids to spend time with their dad and me.
As parents, we try to protect our children from boo-boos and bullies. I think we should also try to protect them from adult drama and, more importantly, make sure they know it’s not their fault.
To that end, I don’t speak badly about their dad. I never have. But sometimes I make mistakes. For example, the boys’ dad recently called during our regular dinnertime. I was grumpy that day and instead of being grateful that their dad contacts them regularly, I made a comment along the lines of, “Why does he have to call while we’re eating?”
Two days later, when he called again at the same time, Jaid repeated my comment. He even used the same exasperated tone that I had when I said it. In that moment, I realized that the kids really pick up on every thing, every nuance, and they feel my energy.
So when Jaid did that, I told him that Dad calls when he can. It was an important lesson for me, and made me thankful I didn’t say anything harsher. Kids notice everything.
I’ve seen the effect on children when their parents don’t get along. They act out in school. It’s hard for them to concentrate. I just want to give my kids the best possible chance of having a normal childhood, despite the fact that they live in two homes.
Don’t get me wrong. Helping them adjust to living in two homes is not always easy. Just imagine if you were the one going back and forth and trying to remember your toys and trying to keep your life moving forward. I know a lot of kids do it, but a lot of adults don’t really put themselves in their children’s shoes.
While I’m so grateful that my ex and I are peacefully co-parenting and committed to creating a strong, consistent presence in our sons’ lives, we know that divorce is difficult. It’s hard on us, and it’s especially tough on our children, the innocent bystanders.
They are the people who were created when the love and the relationship was good. And it is most confusing and devastating to the kids when the marriage or relationship that produced them doesn’t work out. They find out quickly that their lives are going to change in ways they don’t anticipate or understand.
That is why I wrote, I Am Living in 2 Homes, the second in my I Am series of contemporary children’s books.
I Am Living in 2 Homes, which I wrote with my wonderful collaborator Sebastian A. Jones and illustrator James C. Webster, follows the adventures of siblings Jay and Nia as they live their daily lives, splitting their time between their mom and dad’s houses.
Readers of the I Am series first met the twins featured in our first book, I Am Mixed.
The story is filled with vivid illustrations that show the daily lives of this brother and sister. They learn to appreciate the differences between the times they spend with each of their parents while acknowledging the conflicting emotions of living in two different homes.
It celebrates two parents who love their children and show them that, although they are no longer married, they will always put them first. In both homes, Jay and Nia are “wonderfully loved.”
Frankly, I miss my boys so much when they’re not with me. While it’s nice to get the break (and a chance to have a clean house!) while they’re with their dad, it’s also unnervingly quiet. As weird as it sounds, I find myself having to figure out what do with my time at home when the boys aren’t with me.
I’m not gonna lie. It breaks my heart when I hear them say to their friends, “I’m at Mommy’s house this week.” Even when they’re not with me, they are constantly on my mind.
Luckily, co-parenting with Mike has been a blessing because we let each other see the boys even when it’s not his or my week. That’s because we put them first. It’s better for them to see us both at their sporting events and school activities.
We also do things to help the boys feel at home in both of our houses. They have clothing at both places, but they bring special stuffed animals, toys or books with them when they travel between their homes. Sometimes, they’ll call me from their dad’s house, and we’ll pray together on the phone before they go to bed. Plus, technology helps. We have Facetime calls, so we do get to see each other when we’re not together.
Sometimes my sons tell me, “When I’m with you, I miss Dad, and when I’m with Dad, I miss you.” I tell them that these feelings are normal. I let them know that both of us love both of them very much.
In fact, talking to my kids and checking in with them on a regular basis helps them to know that they are loved by both of us. It also makes them feel more secure.
I Am Living in 2 Homes has a questionnaire in the back so young readers can fill it out. Their answers about how they feel and what they do when they feel lonely can help start a positive discussion with their parents and help them cope with their living arrangements.
The message of our book is whether you’re raised in one home or two, Love is Love, Family is Family.
— Garcelle Beauvais