When I first got divorced, their dad picked them up and my heart would break. The rip out of your chest and stomp on it kind of shatter. I absolutely dreaded the pick-up experience through the hysterical crying phase. Tears flowed as I closed the door. I wouldn’t leave the couch for hours because I’d just cry. Some pick-up’s I didn’t even make it to the couch. I just slid down the inside of the front door, hyperventilating and sobbing, and literally unable to walk. I was all alone and it was completely quiet. This was an experience I wasn’t ready for, didn’t want even though I initiated my divorce. I hated pick-up and loathed the regular event.
But as with anything, time heals. Totally cliché, yet totally true. Three years later, I’ve found there are reasons moms can be glad it is dad’s weekend.
- It’s all alone and it’s quiet. Clearly, I didn’t appreciate this at first. Married life, even happily married life, is running kids, fixing supper, doing laundry, working, school projects and a thousands of other things moms are busy with. Alone was the 30-minute drive to work and quiet was sleeping. Dad’s weekend is your time to be alone and quiet. This isn’t easy. It’s learned and you have to train yourself. And, it’s something that if I would have learned and done when I was married, I might have been better at being married.
- You can sleep naked. Really, when is the last time you’ve slept absolutely naked and alone in clean sheets?! I’m not one that even likes to be naked, so self-conscious. Dad’s weekend is the chance to be totally free of pajama constrictions.
- The routine errands can actually get done. Grocery shopping, mowing the yard, picking up the house, getting the dry cleaning and visiting the home store. These are all things you can get done more quickly (and with some quiet thought) when the kids are at dad’s. Plan to do these things when the kids are gone so you stay busy and so you can spend time doing stuff that is way more fun when they’re home.
- There are house projects can give some attention to. I painted every room in my house when my ex moved out. It took me about four months. The kids helped me a few weekends, but for the most part, I was able to clean, paint and put rooms back together in the days they were at their dad’s. I remember holiday weekends being the worst. Painting saved me a lot. I also tackled installing a toilet with a bestie, cleaning the garage, and organizing the “he’s finally gone” closet. Find a house project you can commit to and feel accomplished about finishing.
- You can watch whatever you want and whenever you want. I’m a documentary addict. I pick ones that are sad, scary, boring or just gross because I can. Picking what you want to watch isn’t really about the show. It’s actually a time to quit thinking so much. It’s a show. Period. There are no kids around to teach a life lesson, to give advice or to explain “gosh what if this drama happens to us.” Totally recharge on a mindless show once in a while so you stop thinking at sprint speed, even if just for an hour.
- There’s a chance to go out with friends and stay on their couch. Every once in a while, a night out with friends is super for the soul. And, when the kids are gone, you can choose to have a few too many and stay the night or hit up the diner late night for french fries with ranch. Passing out on someone’s couch helps you remember you’re still young enough to have some stay up late college tendencies; even if the next day you don’t recover as quickly as a college student might. Remember, the kids are gone.
- Dad has to do the work. Mom’s do close to everything for their kids. Even when the kids are at their dad’s, I still feel like I’m organizing their schedule and making sure they get where they need to be. I work full time, pay the bills, coach their team, keep my house together (or try) and volunteer. When the kids are at dads, you may be still be thinking, but he’s doing the actual work. Even if he’s not doing the work as you would or how you’d prefer, he still has to do it. This also isn’t easy to accept or just let happen. Trust me, learning to let dad do the work gives you time to reenergize for when the kids come home.
- There is time to just be you. One thing I lost in my 25 year relationship was me. I got caught up in him, in things, in kids and in stuff that really wasn’t me. It’s one thing even married women can do better to keep their marriage strong: be you. Cry if it hurts; don’t hide tears you need to shed to work through something. Enjoy the quiet once in a while. Take twice as long to run errands or complete house projects because you control the pace. Be lazy watching a documentary, pass out on a friend’s couch and give yourself a break from doing everything all the time. BE YOU. Especially when the kids are gone. It’s all you really know how to be and it’s magic finding when you find yourself again