I often wonder if there are other parents out there like me. I start wondering it about five minutes after dropping my kids off at school. Day one of five days they are with their dad on our 2255 parenting schedule. Are there other parents out there that know what a 2255 parenting schedule means? I have yet to meet them and when I explain it to intact families, their eyes glaze over and say “how do you keep track of that? Oh, we have a shared Google Calendar, but I don’t need it. I know when my kids are coming back and I know when they are going to be leaving. I wish I didn’t know as both the anticipation of their return and the dread of their leaving wreaks havoc on my day. I call the days that lie on either side of the day my kids come and go “Transition Days” and it seems like every other day is a Transition Day.
I am always surprised by the waves of sadness that overtake me. Just thirty minutes earlier as I hustled the kids into the car I was feeling annoyed because they weren’t getting their school bags or putting their shoes on. The night before I was exhausted after a day spent as an accountant in the final days of tax season and as a single parent whose two rambunctious sons would not get ready for bed. My six year old son had stayed up until 10 pm and wanted me to sleep with him, likely because he sensed the emotions running high in the house but I needed some alone time to recharge after a long day. Oh the irony. I would be having five days of alone time starting in twelve hours. So he fell asleep on the couch in the room next to where I was watching TV and I carried his sweet sleeping person up to bed and tried to hold onto the feeling of having my son in my arms because I knew it would be gone the next day.
I have learned to schedule things for the time that my kids are gone, but I can’t schedule all of it. After all, I am single now and when the kids are gone I put myself to bed and wake up alone. Today I’m meeting a friend fairly early. She is going to text me just after 8 am, but I wake up at 6 am and the silence of the house reminds me that my kids are not here. It seems small, crowded and messy when the kids are here but when they are gone, I basically live in one room and even that seems too big.
So it is impossible to not be alone when my kids are gone. I try to think of many of my friends who tell me that they would kill to have the chance to sleep in and do what they wanted for the day. I try to remind myself of how just yesterday I was trying to fade into the background at home so my kids would forget I was there and not demand that I play Crazy Eights with them. I also know that my kids are happy with their dad and taken care of, not to my standard of course, but then, they are getting a different experience of how to live with their dad and more ways of seeing how the world works can only help them.
But my waking and going to sleep thoughts always bring me back to how I have my children in my life for a short time which has been shortened again by half and then the sadness overtakes me. I wonder if it will ever go away. Perhaps I will simply have to manage my grief until that time my kids are older and would be leaving the nest anyway. Maybe by then, the sadness will leave me.