One of the biggest mixed feeling situation when you're sharing custody of your children is how very much you miss them when they're with their father and how very exhausted you are when they're with you for unexpectedly extended periods of time.
This last weekend, in keeping with our goals to be flexible, my ex asked me to take the kids for the full weekend rather than our typical arrangement of splitting the two days. While some of my fellow single moms prefer alternating weekends with their exes, I've always enjoyed my arrangement. It gives me a full day to make kid-free plans, write, or organize my life a bit and still gives me another full day to play with the kids. With all of my "chores" complete, we usually plan something fun for our day off whether it be playdates with friends or going to the beach. At the end of most weekends, we have such a good time I wish I could have the kids both days.
Then I do.
I forget, sometimes, how exhausting it is to be "on" without respite.
This last weekend, I had a big project on the books: building a new chicken coop. With the help of my contractor, aka, boyfriend, we had plans to build a coop that is roughly four times the size of my current coop. The "girls" needed the space and my old coop was falling apart which happens, sometimes, when you build a structure out of old pallets. The new coop is amazing and is probably better made than my house, but this project meant the kids and I couldn't take off to have fun or even just spend time laying in our hammock together. It meant they had to fend for themselves for snacks and were told too many times, "Just a minute" while I steadied a hundred pound wall.
The first day, they were involved and wanting to help. The first day may also have been when my patience started to wear thin. By the second day, I simply wanted them to chill out and maybe, just maybe, do what I ask when I ask rather than making me ask fifteen times. This is, often, when I miss having another parent in the house.
Simply voicing these thoughts, of course, is enough to send Mom Guilt coursing through me. After all, I miss them horribly when they're with their dad. I leap at the opportunity to have additional days. I hem and haw when their dad asks for additional days, making excuses to stop by his house to see the kids. By that reasoning, a long weekend – even with a project – should send me flying with happiness rather than sitting limp on the couch in exhaustion.
I keep telling myself they'll only need me for a little while in the scheme of things and that I'll miss it when they're older and don't want to sit in my lap while I'm trying to cut chicken wire and a chicken is pecking at my legs. I tell myself their high energy and bouncing laughter is a good thing and I'll wish to see more of it when they're pouting teenagers. In the meantime, I pour myself a glass of wine and, instead of jumping on the treadmill, take a long hot shower and look forward to a day off.