I’m a weekend mama who aches for my children every day. I am so tired, so bone tired, of squeezing all my mothering in to these little chunks of time.
My kids rarely get irritated with me, or me with them. The painful reason is because we just aren’t together enough to get on each other’s nerves. Or even argue. We all sense that our 6 nights a month are too precious for that. Sadly, I noticed this tendency over the past few years while seeing them 8 hours a week. They intuitively grasped that it wasn’t worth losing any time.
During the last several years of public visits, there was no flexibility. The days I was able to see the children were pretty set in stone, and if their father had a conflict I was expected to work around.
But during the pandemic things changed. It was really hard to have public visitation and then have “public“ just completely closed down. Devastating to try to pair it with the person who has complete control of the situation, and refuses to recognize that the situation has changed. So public visitation became visits at the public park near our house.
We had no schedule, as always we were subject to his mood and whim. And most of all we were dependent on the weather. It was really hard on the kids and never be able to count on when they can see me. But if the stars align, it wasn’t raining and their father wasn’t in an oppositional mood… Well then we were able to see each other several times during the week.
Granted they were short visits, never more than two hours start to finish of the kids leaving their house to walk over to the trail. But I could hug them, see them and talk to them and just be together every few days. If one of us needed a bathroom break, then sometimes the visit ended an hour and a half when we just couldn’t hold it anymore.
And there were plenty of days that we didn’t even walk, either it was drizzling, or too cold, or to blazing hot, or nobody felt like walking that day. But then it was still just such a blessing to huddle in my car and just be with my children.
Now we have a schedule, two weekends a month and two Wednesdays. That is all their father would agree to. And if it isn’t written in that consent order it is not an option, he will not discuss it nor consider it.
What’s best for the children – that concept never enters into the conversation.
Now the children are home 6 nights a month. Maybe it’s me, as a mom, feeling that ache every day they’re not with me. Do men feel it? I’ve asked my husband, a wonderful and involved father, if he struggled with missing his boys when they were younger. He says no, he coached all of their teams so he was with them most days. And he and his ex-wife always put the children first, so he had the ability to see them at any time. My situation could not be more different. My ex-husband will not allow any visits outside of our consent order – no matter if the kids, escpecially my daughter, could use some extra “mom” time, or they have a day off from school and I propose lunch and a hike.
We live for our weekends together. Friday afternoon to Sunday night, 52 hours to be a family, to make our memories, to be their mom. I spend time beforehand baking special desserts, prepping dinner, grocery shopping – so that our time together can be driven simply by what they feel like doing that day. Exploring our property, going on hikes at Loch Raven or the NCR Trail, watching movies, hanging out in their rooms, doing crafts, even just going to Target.
Feels like there are two versions of me during our visits. The one who practices being present in every interaction. And the other me that floats above the scene, always in the back of my head, reminding me of the mental checklist I keep for each child. Open their school website and go over their assignments and grades, ask if they have any work that’s due at the end of the weekend (always exciting for me since their father will not allow me to participate in their remote learning days) check in to see how they’re managing the isolation of on-line school, encourage them to connect with their friends and brainstorm about how to make that happen, talk about ways they are dealing with stress and anxiety, offer time with me to do anything special they might have in mind, discuss better ways for sibling interaction (since they are usually unsupervised and my younger two are always at each other’s throats), and most of all show them LOVE.
My greatest responsibility is making up for all they have lost – a sense of calm, respect and happiness at home, acceptance and love for them as individuals, modeling a healthy adult relationship with my husband, having fun together, creating an environment of light and love, showing shame and hurt are not acceptable, seeing them for their true selves and setting consistent and firm boundaries.
Praying daily that these meager weekends are just a temporary stop on the way to more time together. Until then, I am their safe haven.