Although I have been a single mama for a while now, I have not been a custody-sharing single mama for long. My co-parent only came back from overseas a few months ago. Up until then, for the previous 10 months that he was away, there was almost no sharing.
I had the kids with me, almost full time, for more than 9 months. During this time, we had 2 hard lockdowns and only moved to level 1 of lockdown just before he came back. That meant that the kids could not really go visit their paternal grandparents (although we did sneak out every few weeks, and then they did spend the weekend there) or anyone else. For almost 3 months they also didn’t have school. So, all in all, for the biggest chunk of last year, and all of my first season of single parenthood, they were with me.
Then their dad returned, and now the agreement is every other weekend they go to him. From after school, to after Sunday lunch. The longest 3 days…
Don’t get me wrong, when they are with me, I very often want to put them under the bed and forget about them. They drive me up the walls at the best of times. But listening to other friends and moms in our community I concluded that that is what kids do. They make it amazingly easy to love them hard. Even though I like to think my kids are special, turns out they are not that unique after all.
When they are with me, I tend to get lost in the chaos and whirlwinds, and then when they are gone I have all this chaos left – reminding me of their little bodies, their high pitched voices, their laughter. It makes the missing them part even harder. Now, when they are not with me for the weekend, I am acutely aware of how quiet it is.
Quiet. Stillness. That would be the biggest lesson I have learned during all of this. And I am still learning. How to not allow the quiet to engulf you. How to be still without going into denial. How to not associate the quiet with loss or endings.
To see the quiet for what it can be – time to reflect, time to recharge, time to grow. Time for myself. Because even if it ends up that I am working that entire weekend that they are with their dad, I still get my moments in-between. Moments of tranquillity and peace.
And then, on Monday when they are back, they bring the hurricanes with them. And with that, the joy and cheer.
Sharing custody and sharing weekends have tangibly illustrated to me how we can live a more balanced life, between moving and being still. Between laughter and listening. Between being at the steer to allowing someone else to anchor you in the harbour.
Since I am trying to be honest and transparent, I am not going to lie – it takes a lot of soul searching and heart checking to make sure I am not resenting these weekends. That I do not fill up with jealousy and become bitter. Reminding myself of the bigger picture helps – the kids will eventually grow up and leave the nest completely, and then they will rely on the strong relationships they are forging now. The foundations are being lain, and I am not allowed to stand in the way. Kids need a father, and even more so do daughters need a dad.
So for now I need to keep calm, become still and enjoy the alone time. Most of the time, easier said than done.
And you mama, how are you holding up? Do you share custody, or what does that look like in your life?