One would think that after seven years a dreaded activity would lose its sting. I’m still waiting and hoping that it might; but, so far no such luck. Seven years since my divorce, and I still hate to say “goodbye” to my children.
I should be an old pro by now! For seven years my children have alternated between their dad’s home and mine, one week at-a-time. During the school year, they come to me right after school, then return to him for his week the next Monday morning.
Today was our last official trade for the summer. During summer, the kids switch on Sunday evenings so that they can either sleep in the next day or wake up where they need to be for camp or other activities that start earlier in the morning. Another summer has now come to an end, and tomorrow morning is their first day of school!
I can’t believe it! One more summer of their childhood that is now but a memory. They’re one step closer to being grown up, and these lazy days of summer will now live in the past.
It was particularly hard for me to drop them off tonight because the first day of school is tomorrow. Like so many events that occur in their lives, I’m either a part of it, or I’m not, all completely dependent on whose week it is. I have missed birthdays that have fallen over my ex’s time (though, of course, we celebrate either right before or after when they are with me) and other red letter days because they were in his home, not mine. The trade-off is that sometimes I am the lucky one to be there on the actual special day.
Seven years of dropping kids off to their dad, and I still cried on the way home.
I will never, ever learn to fully accept not having my children with me every day and every night; though, I am becoming better at finding ways to cope with their absence. Some drop-offs are harder for me than others, but I always make sure to:
Let them know, without any doubt, that I love them with all my heart and will be thinking about them all week.
I refrain from losing composure in their presence because they don’t need to feel guilty in any way or responsible for my happiness. I let them know they will be missed, but I also wish them a great week with their father.
Welcome them to call or text me at any time, for any reason. It is their dad’s time with them, but I want them to know I am always here for them if they need help or just want to swap “I love you’s!”
After seven years of pressing the pause button on my heart, every other week, I have learned to make something positive out of the void in my life. I do this by:
Going out of my way to schedule every appointment for myself, late meeting at work, and personal errand for myself while they are away. That way, I am productive and able to keep my mind off of being melancholy, then when they return, my full attention can be on them!
I find ways to re-charge my personal batteries so that I am the mom they deserve when they come home. I pamper myself, catch up on my favorite shows, give myself a break from the constant cooking and driving involved with “mom week,” and sleep in when I can.
I engage in most of my socializing when they are gone. I have never hired a babysitter to watch them when they are with me for the purpose of me going out. I do send them to camp and other activities during summer days so that I can work; but, I believe that their time with me should not include me leaving them, unless it’s unavoidable, because I have a full week within days when I can come and go as I please!
I use the time to re-organize the house. Their rooms get a good cleaning, and I do a massive grocery shopping trip and the majority of the cooking for the week they are with me so that I don’t have to worry about cooking, shopping, or major cleaning during our time. If anything, they can help me cook and bake as a fun activity together; but, none of us has to be bogged down by heavy household duties.
I find little ways to keep us connected while they are away, while respecting that it is their dad’s turn with them. Now that my son has a cell phone, we enjoy sending funny memes, interesting articles, and short messages back-and-forth to one another. It’s just a small way I can let him know I’m thinking of him and love him.
My daughter doesn’t yet have a phone of her own, but she has access to Pinterest. We enjoy sending each other craft ideas or recipes that we think would be fun to try, cute pictures, and even little messages.
I attend any special events the kids have going on during their week at dad’s. His time is his at his home; but, I would never miss an orchestra concert, parent-teacher conference, or other such occasion just because it’s not my official time. It’s always a nice reprieve from our separation to get an in person hug and quick face-to-face catch-up whenever I can get it!
It can be hard, at times, to accept the fact that my children and I now live this way as a result of their father and I divorcing. I do mourn the fact that they cannot have both of us, or we have both of them, at all times. I am still convinced of the fact that the divorce between their dad and I has brought about more positives in their lives than negatives.
Since the fact that we live our life this way is not likely to ever change, I continue to do my best to make them a priority when we are together, take care of myself when we are apart, and help them to ease the transition they endure each week. We may not always be able to be physically together, but our hearts are never far apart!