I never planned on a Parenting Plan
If there is such a thing as a nice divorce, I had one. Former and I put our differences aside and civilly negotiated so we could get on with what we do best – love our kids. We split time with the kids fifty-fifty. We decided on the 2-2-5-5 visitation schedule. There are many things we don’t agree on, but doing what is best for our kids isn’t one of them. So, two days a week and every other weekend, my boys are off with their dad.
My children are adjusting well. They have more toys than they could ever play with, making splitting them between houses easy. They’ve even made friends in my new neighborhood.
I am the one having a hard time adjusting.
Each Wednesday evening, Former comes to pick up the kids. After the five minutes of chaos while greeting Daddy and gathering backpacks, buckling in the car and non-stop chatter, I walk back into my now quiet house with a feeling of relief. Ahh, silence. I can finally get some work done. Better yet, I can finally relax.
I never cook on Wednesdays. I go out with a friend or hunker down with a bowl of cereal and a good book. I’ve come to love my Wednesday nights.
Thursdays are completely kid-free for me. The boys go to school and their dad picks them up and works from home in the afternoon. I reserve Thursdays for appointments, cleaning and running errands. I stay busy and focused, trying not to notice the black spot that is growing on my heart.
Friday comes and my focus wanes. I miss my kids something fierce. I want to hear them running through the house and laughing at fart jokes. I want to use my mom voice. I haven’t had to do the hard-stare, lip-curling, quiet-voice maneuver for days. Their absence leaves me empty and I often find myself walking around the house without purpose, waiting for my purpose to come back home to me.
Saturday morning marks the third day I sleep in and I’m getting used to it. I enjoy my cup of coffee and talk to the kids on the phone. They’re happy and busy with Daddy and my spirits lift. Maybe I’ll go see a movie. It is nice to have this freedom. I miss my children, true, but they’re happy and coming home soon.
Sunday morning I stretch lazily in bed well into the nine o’clock hour. I read the newspaper front to back and shop all the ads. I sip my coffee and watch the birds empty the feeder. I am sad. I stare into space a lot on Sundays.
At long last, Monday afternoon comes and I pick the boys up from school. Seeing their sweet faces fills me with more happiness than I knew I was missing! We chat the whole way home and the boys give me a play-by-play of their weekend. “And Mom! This one time….” I am once again complete. The dark spot on my heart is gone.
Within twenty minutes of our arrival, I’m tripping over socks and shoes. Sam whines at me about having to do homework and Max is yelling something unintelligible from the other room. Someone slams a door and the dogs start barking.
What happened to my quiet home? Why are they so loud? I missed them so much yet within a half hour of their homecoming, I’m disciplining, picking up after them and generally irritated.
Just the day before, my emptiness had rendered me motionless, staring at a blank wall. I didn’t want to read. I didn’t want to write. I just wanted my children. Home. With me.
I can’t reconcile these feelings. The push and pull of freedom and emptiness is exhausting. I’ve had this schedule in place for nearly a year, and I’m still struggling. The kids have adjusted. I have not.
I recently met a friend’s elderly aunt who deftly swiped with knotted fingers through the pictures on my iPhone. She smiled at me and said, “They’re beautiful. Cherish every minute with them. The time goes by so fast.” I’ve heard those words a million times, but in her eyes I saw truth. At that moment, it hit me – I just lost half that time.
Damn this hurts. It hurts all over.