The Spaces Between

Please bear with me. This is a sad post, and it is an attempt to process my grief a little. If you hate complaining, don’t read it.

But this is the part I would not have chosen.

The part where my kids are going to be gone half the time, all the time.

It struck me with force one day recently that this is the way it will always be. They will be gone from my house half the time for the foreseeable future. And this is the part that seems hard for them, too. Being away from either me or their dad all the time. They want to be with both of us all the time.

I dropped them off at their various destinations this morning, and I just felt so sad. They’ll only be gone for two days, but I am sad. Last week, I dropped them off and realized I was not going to see them for five days. I had never been away from the three kids for five days before.

The funny thing, of course, is that when I had them to myself for five days in a row, I was looking forward to the things I would accomplish while they were away. Man, I haven’t organized in years! I am going to organize my entire LIFE! But then, I found myself crying in front of a work acquaintance/near stranger when we’d only been apart for about eight hours.

I did enjoy my time off. I haven’t been alone for more than moments or had free time in years. I actually got kind of overwhelmed by the sheer amount of time to myself and did not always use it productively or restfully, oddly, but rather kind of buzzing around with ADD. But on Saturday, someone came over who had not been to my house before and asked, “Are you a…cleaning person?” Nobody had thought that about me in YEARS! But I AM! I am a lot of things. I am a writer, an artist, an outdoorswoman. What else am I? I don’t remember. Maybe now I can find out again.

I did organize some, and clean more. I went spur of the moment wine tasting with some people I don’t even know that well. I watched TV during the daytime. I went out to a pub with a friend and did not have a sitter at home. I stayed up late.

So it’s nice in some ways to have this time to myself. But I don’t really want it. Because it benefits me in some ways, but it does not benefit my children, and because I was planning to wait and willing to wait to have that free time for more years.

And please, don’t tell me that I chose this or whatever. Because I am trying to do what seems to be best for everyone in the long term. And that is this. And I am grateful that the children’s father is someone I trust to parent them well and who wants to be fully involved in their lives. I know that isn’t always the case.

But hell, it hurts to be away from my kids.



18 responses to “The Spaces Between”

  1. Thinking of you, my friend. I am so very sorry that you’re going through this. If you ever need someone to come steal you away and help keep your mind distracted for a bit, I’m your girl. I like pubs. And wine. And you.

    1. Thanks, friend. Don’t be nice to me though–I will cry.

  2. “…Because it benefits me in some ways, but it does not benefit my children” I disagree. Teaching your children that they should nurture themselves as well as their relationships is a valuable lesson we mothers forget. We give, give, give, and feel guilty when we stop (which is natural and ok) but they deserve to see you taking time for yourself as a separate, unique, interesting, and independent woman. Plus, we all know that, before we can put the oxygen mask on someone else, we need to put our own on first.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t miss them, just disagreeing that it does not benefit them at all.

    1. Thank you. That is a wise thought, and I appreciate it. And it’s true that if I were the only one on deck full-time I would also be even more tired and impatient.

  3. Again, my deepest sympathies and prayers. Your children will more than survive, eventually they’ll thrive because they still have two parents who love them. And more than that, they will figure out the benefits of having two houses. (Like two places to collect “stuff”.)

    1. Thank you. I really appreciate it. We’re all trying our best, and we also share a goal of not putting the kids in the middle.

  4. Sending you nothing but hugs and support.

    1. Thanks, friend.

  5. I am a single parent who was abandoned by my daughters father for 5 years to parent alone. Having him then show up was a shock to our existence. We broke up during my pregnancy however and from that time I had told myself: it takes two parents to make a baby so the child never fully belongs to just one of them. I wanted to always be prepared to do 50/50 because it was the only thing that seemed rather fair.

    Thus I can only imagine the pain of sharing a life with a partner and children in a home and then having things split up. I can empathize with the pain of missing moments when children are not at home. Still to moms I say “kids need dads and so it is great when visitation takes place regularly”.

    It is good to honor the pain it may cause and live our best lives in the mean while with our free time. Our children’s lives are being enriched through these processes in ways we cannot fully appreciate in the moment many times. My daughter will be 18 this time next year. I would not change much especially in the area of visitation. That is worth more to me than being able to say she has always been here with me.

    1. Thank you. I agree that if you can share custody, it’s best, even if it’s hard sometimes.

  6. Wrapping you in everything you need to get through this chapter of your life and sending you love.

    1. Thank you, Penny. I appreciate your encouragement.

  7. Tears and prayers for you.

    1. Thanks, Ashley. It’s good to be supported.

  8. Hi there,
    I just stumbled upon your blog and love your sense of humor! I also think you nailed it with this one. I divorced when my son was 19 months old, and have always split custody 50/50. It’s been almost 5 years now. It got much easier. But it’s still so bittersweet – I wish my son could have one home. I do feel incredibly free, though, when he’s not with me. It’s a blessing many moms don’t have. I am also more clear about my intentions during the time I have with him – it’s our time! I protect that. When he’s gone…. it’s MY time to excel at work, or stay in my pajamas all day. In re-reading this, I think I sound very ‘black-an-white’ about the whole thing, but in reflection, there is a whole hell of a lot of gray, too.
    Good luck.

    Lucy 🙂

    1. Thank you. Yes, black, white, and gray. 🙂 I often cry when they are leaving for their 5-day stint, but I also have often been looking forward to the me time and the catching up on things (and there still seems to be so much more catching up that needs doing than there is time for me).

  9. Thank you for posting this. I think you have absolutely captured how being a separated parent feels. Other parents say to me sometimes that ‘it must be so nice to have all that time to yourself’. Usually I manage not to cry in response, but not always. Three years on it isn’t really any easier. But I know my boy is loved, and happy. And that he gets the best of both his parents, which I don’t believe he would have otherwise had. I imagine it will be bittersweet for a long time to come. x

    1. Now, three years in, I am more used to it, but it still sucks.

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