As a divorced mom, people somehow feel compelled to tell me how horrible it must be not to see my kids every day, and that they can't imagine how I stand it. I have no idea how to respond -- should I burst into tears? Should I announce, "You're right! I'll call my ex husband and see if he wants to get back together!" (which would be awkward, because I don't think his new wife would like it.) Usually I just shrug and smile and change the subject, because I figure the comment is more about them than me. The truth is, I look forward to having time to myself.
Of course, it was difficult at first, in part because they were still so little (3 and 5), and because at the time I didn't completely trust their father to make sure they were properly fed, washed, dressed and rested. I had always been the one responsible for those things, and his initial efforts in that regard were not impressive. We had to have conversations about things like, "Tights are not pants," "Make sure they really wipe after they poop," and "If I have to pick them up sick from school again because you won't make them go to bed, I will end you." He did, thankfully, improve greatly (and I was able to relax a bit), and we have a 50/50 custody split. We put a lot of time and effort into making it work, and we communicate well about parenting issues. The kids don't feel pulled between us, and we're able to be flexible when one of us has work travel or other circumstances.
I get two nights per week and every other weekend "off duty." Granted, most of that time is spent doing errands, cleaning, laundry and other household tasks. But if I wanted, I could take a lover and have crazy sex on my dining room table. It's nice to have options. As an introvert, I need more down time than most people, and as I go through the process of truly knowing and loving myself, I am learning to honor my own needs. Of course, I build in social activities with friends during my child-free time, but sometimes my need is to play '80s and '90s hip hop and shake my booty while making spaghetti sauce, and that's good, too.
The best part is that when the kids come back to my house, they're happy to be here, and I love reconnecting with them. We catch up on the past few days' happenings, they show me their papers and projects, and they settle back into the household routine. Of course, it's usually a matter of hours -- sometimes minutes -- before they start fighting like rabid weasels, but it's nice while it lasts.
For them, being the child of divorced parents isn't a tragedy, because the adults in their lives love them and want the best for them, which includes getting along with each other. My children are thriving and so am I. There's no need to feel sorry for them or for me. However, if you're still curious about how I manage when the kids are away, you're welcome to come over for dinner. I'll be happy to pour you a drink and put on the MC Hammer.