When The Kids Are With Their Other Parent After A Separation

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There are days that I sit in the quiet, and I embrace it. I feel the air and my lungs expanding to take it all in. I cherish the moment and plan what I will do next, how I will make the most out of the day. Those are the days that both kids are sleeping, and I have a 90-minute window to accomplish as much as possible before the beautiful terrors I have created will destroy any sense of organization I once thought possible.

I breathe in. I sit. I plan.

Then there are days I stay in bed wondering what the point is, why I should even bother getting myself up if I have no kids to spend my time with. Why make the coffee when I have no reason to be tired, and I can drink it hot because I’m not racing to help encourage someone that peeing on the toilet is so much fun! Those are the days they stay at their other house, with their other parent, in their other life — the life that doesn’t include me.

I gather myself up, don’t look in the mirror, and I go outside. I breathe the air, and I force my lungs to expand. I hit the road with my feet and tell myself that I can keep going, that there is no rush and it’s okay to let the dishes sit for an hour because no little mouths need feeding, no hands need holding, and no hearts need snuggling — not right now. Right now, an adult-sized heart needs some healing, and the mind needs some time, and the soul needs to move.

The days I don’t want to get out of bed are the days I need to move the most. They are the days I need to be thankful for, thankful that I’m no longer feeling like I’m doing it alone. This time and space is what I have been asking for, and now I just need to adjust to it, embrace it.

Our separation is what I needed to not be a single parent, to not feel so alone in parenting and in life. There is no other option — we both must get up in the night, sing the songs and sit on the floor. We both have to be present now.

I am saddened that I have to be away from my children half of the week, but so thankful that they have both parents present and participating in their lives.

The days with the quiet sometimes feel like they are few and far between, and other days they feel like they never end. I love them and hate them. I feel so guilty when I love them, and I feel so selfish when I hate them. There will be a balance one day, but for now I am okay being torn.

I am learning again to feel the things I feel and to share them. I will be the role model that I want them to have. I will be able to be that role model, now that I can be fully present, even if it is only half of the time. I am remembering to use the time I have, when the coffee is hot, to look after me, to breathe in, to be okay with the discomfort of wondering how my children slept because I know they have another house and another part of their life with another parent who is also present now.

I hope that the acceptance of this new life comes sooner than later for everyone involved, for everyone who is a forced participant; that it makes sense and feels natural. I want so much for our dual presence — separate at times, but which makes my children feel double-loved. Loved to the brim of their being and secure in it too. I am hopeful that the quiet days become easier and remind me that not every moment needs to be filled with movement or noise, that sitting in silence and embracing it will help heal my soul and create more space for being with my children when they’re here.