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days off
saturday january 5, 2002

the kids are packing to go spend two days with their dad. two days! two days of peace and quiet. no arguing and fighting, no bickering, no thudding over my head as they dance to a particular song, no fighting between saxy and phoenixcat! quiet. for TWO days.

don't get me wrong, i love my kids. anyone who knows me can tell you i love my kids. i am firm with them, i have rules, but that's because i love them too much to just let them go do whatever.
but i also have not had much 'time off' since the ex and i divorced.

see, we do not have the "normal" post-divorce relationship or visitation arrangements. we get along. he buys stuff like milk when we need it. we 'loan' each other money without really keeping track since we know it'll all come back around some how. visitation is casual, he can pretty much see the kids when he wants as long as i have them on christmas day.

but when we divorced he didn't have a place for them to go to visit him. he lived first with a friend who didn't even want the kids to visit over there. then he was staying with his mother. let's not go there. anyway, there was no room for over nighters. so he'd pick them up on sunday mornings and take them to church, spend time with them if he could, then see them occasionally at other times through the month.

and they've missed him.

this meant, of course, that i have the kids like 90% of the time. no real breaks unless we found a sitter. as much as i love them, it is very hard to parent like this. you get tired and frustrated. you have to find time for yourself and 'hope' the kids let you be. as the girls got older, this got easier because i could ask them to leave me alone.

it is fortunate, i think, that i've always known the value of time spent for oneself. i'm sure i'd be a lot less happy with things if i hadn't set boundaries early that allow me to do things for myself. i'm still available for them. they can come and ask me questions, we spend time together, we have a family movie night, stuff like that. but i knew i needed my own time, my own things to do, a life beyond my children. and i have done what i have felt reasonable in order to have that.

i had a friend who felt lonely every time her kids spent time a weekend with dad. she's catered to them. they were so her everything. and for awhile, this backfired in the worst way: her son played with fire and her daughter threatened suicide every time she turned around. i am aware that there is probably A LOT more involved there than just the issues of how she related to her children, but the point is this: every time she wanted to do something for herself, one of them experienced a crises and she wouldn't do for herself. her children were her life. she paid for it and they paid for it. i don't know if she ever got to appreciate her 'time off' from them on the weekends dad had them.

i refuse to make my children my everything. as an adult i have other needs and interests that i have a right to develop. life doesn't stop with kids. but, up until now, it was hard to find peace and quiet and down time.

i am sooooooooo looking forward to my days off.

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