My children are my greatest joy in life. I have been fairly straightforward in that stance, and don’t intend to change it. I love teaching them how to do things like shoot a rifle, drive a John Deere Gator, swim, sing, speak, walk. Kids are awesome and (in my considered, authoritative and clearly objective opinion) my kids are the most awesome of all.
The flip side, though, is that my kids are also the source of the most pain in my life. Sure, every parent goes through the agony of the first scraped knee, or that time little Johnny fell down the stairs, or got stung by a bee. I cannot imagine the horror, fear and pain that must be felt by parents whose children are kidnapped, molested or killed young. I sincerely hope I don’t have to cope with those particular pains.
Being a single parent brings with it a different pain. The pain of constant separation.
Picking the kids up from their mother’s house invariably brings a bounce to my step and a cheer to my voice. We are getting ready to have a day, or two, or however many together. We are going to do all the trampoline jumping, swing pushing, hill rolling and outright fun stuff we can cram in. That is a fantastic feeling.
Of course it isn’t all sunshine and roses. Sometimes, poop happens. Sometimes you have to clean up the same mess 500 times, because telling the kids not to make it doesn’t work. I generally enjoy cooking, but sometimes that can be more work than it seems its worth. It all gets done, though, because I love the kids. Even when it is hard, it’s always worth it.
Then comes the drop off. I feel it starting to affect my mood typically around dinnertime. I don’t want to leave my kids with someone else for the rest of the week, not even their mother! It is not easy to leave them there and just go back home alone. Usually, I have a hard time getting to sleep that night.
The rest of the week it doesn’t get better. I am not there for Seamus when he gets home from school. Sure, I am helping Kathryn potty train, but the bulk of the progress – and most likely the breakthrough – will be made far away from me. I am not going to be there to comfort them in the night, to help them get better when they are sick, to kiss their boo-boos when they get hurt.
This naturally points up the importance of making the most of the time I do have. It is easy to get caught up in always having to “do something” with the kids. Going to the park, going to Medieval Times, going to visit someone, going to the beach… it can turn into a vicious cycle, because these times are not the ones I am missing. We do all of that stuff, and it is fantastic. Those are not the times I am missing.
Normalcy is what I miss. I will never again come home from work and tuck the kids in. I will never get in too late to tuck them in, but sneak into their room and kiss them goodnight while they’re sleeping. I won’t see them off to school in the mornings. I will never have “just a day,” where we don’t do much of anything but just hang around with each other. Daddy’s day is already a bit of an event; it can never be just a day because it is set apart from all the other days.
Unlike most of my musings in this blog, there is no upbeat moral to this tale. It is just something that must be dealt with by everyone who loves his or her children but cannot live with the other parent, for whatever reason. If you are experiencing this, know that you are not the only one. Just try not to express your frustration at your children. They probably don’t think your situation is ideal either.