So this is where I have the most trouble with my separation: the sharing of my kids. I know, I know, I just said yesterday that solo weekends are awesome. But then the work week sets in, I haven't seen my kids in three days and miss them so much. How is it possible that I've gone three days without seeing my girls? At the very beginning of my separation, I would be a basketcase on Mondays, and it was my bestie that pointed out I was always more emotional that first day back after a busy weekend of catching up with friends. Because while I was busy and distracted and occupied, my kids were not at the forefront of my mind, but reality set in on Monday morning. I would sit at the breakfast table, staring out the window with my Cheerios uneaten and getting soggy while I wondered how I got here and if I was really doing the right thing. That if I continued with this crazy, stubborn, selfish plan, I would miss seeing my kids every day of their lives.
The day after Kate was born, I looked at her and thought, "What the fuck have I done?" I looked at that tiny, scrunchy red creature and started to panic about how I now had a human being dependant on me for her every need. FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Holy shit. That's a hell of an epiphany I can tell you that and I didn't really think I was up for the challenge. 24 hours later, I would have fought tigers for her had I been called on to do so. That protective instinct and my love for her grew every day until it consumed me. I found out that I was really, really good at being a mother. For a person who has always been just smart enough to know that she is mediocre at best, the realization that I was finally amazing at something was deeply satisfying. I held on to it tightly and I wasn't going to give it up.
So when you feel that way about motherhood, dealing with the fact that you are no longer there to protect them and love them every day can be a bit traumatic. And let's face it, I'm a proven drama queen so I imagine the worst-case scenario about how this is all going to play out and I worry about my girls and how this will affect them long term. My worry is not baseless since you always hear horror stories about kids going off the rails because their parents split. My own life went off the deep end a bit when my dad left me at the age of 15 and I never really forgave him for it. I do, however, recognize that this is a different situation. When my dad left, he was done with us. I saw him irregularly at best because he wanted to screw his new girlfriend and he didn't want a sulky teenager who hated his girlfriend at his house every other weekend. The idea of joint custody and both parents actively raising the children after a divorce just wasn't his thing. I was also old enough and angry enough that I didn't want to see him very often. So I speak from personal experience when I tell you I worry for my girls and how this separation will ultimately affect them.
Obviously my ex and I have figured out a way to continue to be in our kids' lives regularly. We both agreed that if we were going to split up, the only important thing to figure out was how to make the kids feel as nurtured, loved and protected as they have always been. Everything else took second fiddle to that. There are going to be some changes, we are moving after all, but we're trying to make it exciting for them instead of scary. We reassure them that even when we aren't together, we're only a phone call away. And drama queen or not, I'm also eternally optimistic about life in general and I look for the good in the bad, I seek out the positive from the negative and see the beauty even in ugly things. So I might worry, but I also hope and expect everything to be okay.
It doesn't mean I don't miss them like crazy when I'm not with them. I haven't missed a moment of their lives since they were born except for the occasional weekend away. But just like with those weekends away, I feel guilty about looking forward to alone time. Because I really do. I revel in it. I write, I read, I do my nails, I watch movies, I see my friends. And I do all of it guilt free because I don't have to worry that I'm doing these things at the expense of not fulfilling someone else's needs. It doesn't seem like a very motherly sentiment to have, but I've always been the primary parent and having down time to recharge has made me a more balanced, patient and caring parent in many ways. And as good pal pointed out, it's ok to look forward to handing my kids over to my ex because I also really look forward to getting them back. It balances out.