I’ve been divorced for more than three years now. My daughter is with me 60% of the time and with her dad, 40%. Getting used to the schedule was tough. It’s what I dreaded most about divorce—the fact that my child wouldn’t be with me every night. It’s hard on parents and even harder on kids.
I’ll never forget the first exchange.
My daughter was about three years old and not feeling well. As I handed her over to my ex-husband in his driveway, she reached her arms out for me and cried. There was nothing I could tell her that she would understand in that moment.
I ached inside.
My daughter is resilient and strong. She has grown accustomed to her schedule over the past few years, but there are still plenty of times when she struggles. She keeps things close to her chest—but when she opens up, I listen and reaffirm her sentiments. I never want her to feel like she has to posture what she shares with me.
When my daughter isn’t with me, she is always on my mind.
When I see a little girl with the same color hair or hear a child say “Mama!”… I think of her. And I miss her. There’s that achey feeling again. You see, you can’t just turn off being a mom. I get this pit in my stomach… Is she safe? Is she happy? Am I doing a good enough job?
Between my parenting schedule and working full time, I’m very protective of the limited time I have with my daughter. Unless it’s a special circumstance, I turn down social invites and try to schedule work-related activities outside of my parenting time. The parenting schedule is plugged into my iPhone calendar so I can quickly check a date as soon as it comes my way.
When special events land on my daughter’s time with her dad, sometimes I miss out on doing things with her. It’s just the nature of the beast. Movie premieres, family get-togethers, neighborhood parties… I just have to let it go and say, it’s out of my control, maybe next time.
What I can control is how we spend our time together.
When my daughter is with me, she’s my sidekick. We go everywhere together. It could be the nail salon for mother/daughter pedicures or an errand run to Target. Either way, she’s tickled—and I am, too.
I’ve heard that it’s not necessarily about the time spent with a child, but the quality of the time spent.
When my daughter is home, my husband and I shower her with love, as does all our family. She is certainly not short of people who care about her and want to spend time with her! Hugging her, kissing her, listening to her imaginative and silly stories.
I may only get to do it 60% of the time, but she has 100% of my heart.