The first few years of my children’s lives I couldn’t take my eyes off of them for a second. My entire life revolved around chasing behind them nonstop – whether at the beach, the park or my home. We all know the feeling of uneasiness a parent feels when the house is quiet. There is comfort in hearing your children banging around or laughing because you know exactly where they are and what they are doing. When there is quiet you fear that you will walk into a room with a 4 year old with scissors and very little hair left or a pretty new scribbled mural on the wall.
Then my children reached an amazing stage of independence. I called it the “gliding stage” to my friends. I could read magazines on the beach while they played in the shallow water and I could enjoy our time together in the afternoon after school because there were not any serious organized sports team practices. They could get up in the morning and fix their own breakfast while I showered without any fear on my part that the house would burn to the ground. This stage felt so good that I foolishly believed it would last… until we hit the next stage.
As kids grow, so do their extracurricular activities. We went from lazy afternoons of playing in the yard to detailed, color-coded calendar days and constant emails between their stepmom and me about carpooling. Acting classes, basketball practices, piano lessons, running groups… we have something scheduled every day. Throw into the mix that my son’s AAU basketball team practices 30 minutes away three days a week (with practice ending at 9pm!) and you quickly see that our family time is now spent in the car. So I’m back to chasing my kids around nonstop, but in a different way. They still crave the independence they have learned, but I have to shuttle them around.
When I was newly divorced and in that non-stop chasing stage, my kids would go see their dad every other weekend out of town and I would absolutely bask in the nothingness I could do ALL WEEKEND. Times change and kids grow. Now that I live close to my ex, Joe and I have the weekend without kids and don’t have time to even breathe.
Someone asked me yesterday as I was getting off the elevator on my way home from work, “Do you have any big plans this weekend?” And I quickly responded with, “No! We got married last weekend, so this weekend is going to be very quiet thankfully…” As I was speaking I thought of something and had to add to that, “Well, I have to take my daughter to piano tonight before I take her to her dad…. and my son has three basketball games tomorrow in an AAU tournament… well, my daughter has a piano recital tomorrow night… and my step-kids have a piano recital on Sunday… and we are teaching Sunday School.”
When I got into my car I had to just sit still for a moment… as I came to the realization that it may be some of the only quiet time I get all weekend. So to those people who think that divorced parents “get every other weekend off,” I say you are terribly wrong. Any mother worth a grain of salt wants to be at their children’s events – even if it’s not “her weekend” with the kids.
If you think that Joe and I are laying around all weekend eating bon-bons and watching movies, all I can say is I WISH… We will be running around all weekend cheering on the four people we love best in this world. We don’t want to miss a thing – no matter who they are with for the weekend.
The beauty of it all is the kids will never forget it and they will benefit from our consistency. They all four know that we want to be there to support them at every single game, performance, and recital. Is it always the most convenient thing for us? No. But you cannot possibly be a good parent if you are selfish. I’m proud of the fact that my children can look in the stands and see their mother, their stepfather, their stepmother and various grandparents – all sitting together in solidarity to support the one thing we all have in common… our unconditional love for our kids.
If you need me this weekend, call my cell. I probably won’t answer. I’ll be busy supporting my children & step-children – enjoying every chaotic second of my “weekend off.”