“God, you’re so lucky you have every other weekend off. I would do anything for some time away from these kids, they are killing me!”
I hear this often from my friends, all of my friends, actually. They are still married to the person they had their kids with. They still go home to their house every night together.
Her husband still sleeps in bed with her, the kids crawl in. Every night. Every night she gets to smell her baby’s head, make her family dinner, gets hugs with dirty hands and unwashed faces. Every night, she gets to look into their eyes and know that they are okay or if they aren’t and need to talk. Every night.
I get my kids 50 percent of the time, the rest of the time they are with their dad. 50/50 custody. We work together well for the sake of the children, we are not perfect at it, but I think we are better than most, we rearrange our time for each other if needed. We both work outside the home and we both have to work. We have to support two households. That means, two blenders, toasters, dishwashers, washing machines and yes, two sets of bedrooms and living rooms and dining rooms. We both have those rooms empty 50% of the time.
My heart aches every time I say goodbye to them as they go off with their dad. My arms feel like dead weights and they drag me down unable to move freely. I start to worry almost immediately, what if they get a cold, what if they have nightmares, what if they have a great day, what if they have a bad day, what if they make a new friend, what if they fight with a friend, what if they feel lonely, what if they don’t. I don’t know. Fifty percent of the time I cannot see that, I don’t know. I pray and hope they are okay, that they are laughing and happy and they are, in the end.
They come home; they run into my arms and start chattering like a bunch of monkeys at full volume. “Guess what mom, I got a 100 on my spelling test. Guess what mom, I skinned my knee and it bleeded. Guess what mom, I got my math right today. Mom, my library book is at your house” and there it is, “your house”. Not our house, “your house”, my house.
They have two, they have mine and they have their dads. So as they are chattering away and I am smiling, hugging, nodding and consoling, I think back to a wedding day filled with promise and what I thought was unending love. I reach down and I hug them tight, my arms lighter, my heart so full I could burst and I try so hard to not cry. Not because they are home, but because they will only be home until they go back. And I cry because their lives are two lives. I smile and they look at me with their big eyes and ask with a twisted grin “happy tears or sad tears?” My answer is always “Happy Tears”. They giggle like it’s our little secret, that my emotions escape me.
So, as I sit next my girlfriend and listen to her complain about her husband, and kids, and house, and, and, and… I think to myself “God, you are so lucky”.