I hate visitation weekends. I hate them, I hate them, I hate them...
I loathe the weekends my boys are gone with a passion I usually reserve for spiders, beets and having to reach into cold, dirty dish water. They are not a break. They are not relaxing and although they are a chance to get errands done with only one child instead of three, they are not worth it.
J used to have a work schedule that was very flexible. It was not unusual to see him walk in the door and be done for the day around 2 or 3 p.m. After he started his own company, he worked a more normal 9-5 schedule (and then once he got a girlfriend "work" picked up even more.) The point being that Fridays weren't extra special until a year or two ago and then they began to mean something again. Genuine sleeping in, lazy days where there were two of us to tackle kids and work and play, date nights if we had enough money, someone to talk to during the day that didn't talk back or need to be disciplined (and extra help with the ones in the house that DID need that :-) I was always sad by the time Sunday night rolled around, while J, as I imagine most dads are, was relieved to be on the threshold of a work day that doesn't involve "honey-do" lists and changing bums. I dread every weekend now. The weekdays are much easier since we got used to him being gone much of the day anyway. I am not a fan of this 'feast or famine' form of child raising. When it is my weekend, I spend a lot of the time wishing I had someone to help me entertain kids, work on the house and break up the monotony of the week. At night, I feel pathetic to have to be catching up on work or laundry when it feels like everyone else in the world has a hot date with their spouse (thanks facebook, for keeping me updated on what I am missing :-). Sometimes I go out with friends, but it is so hard to know I am coming home alone to a lonely house that it is almost not worth it right now.
When the boys are gone, it's worse. They are with me full time during the week and it feels like a wrench to have them away. I wonder about them the whole time. How is Junior's cold? Will Bubba (who has been crawling into my bed every night) know where to find dad in a strange apartment? Are the doors and windows locked at night? Are they asking about me to J 100 times a day like they ask about him here? Both boys have been having abandonment based nightmares and I worry about them waking up in unfamiliar surroundings. Their beds are so empty and I find myself wandering in there from habit every time I get up in the night (which is still fairly often - all I want for Christmas is a good night's sleep :-) I do enjoy the time I get to bond with Sis. The third child of a now single mom doesn't usually get that much one on one face time.
The boys are often thrown off for a day or two when they get home. It's then that I have to answer the questions that are hard; "why doesn't dad love you, mom?" (I don't know...) "Why can't you just come with us to dad's next time?" (I wish he wanted that...) "Do you miss us when we are gone?" (so much...). I worry about what I am missing because I know that J misses so much around here on a daily basis. I know I miss the family adventures we used to do. Hardly a Saturday went by that we weren't heading out for somewhere by mid afternoon, even if it was just McDonald's play land. It feels hollow when I do that with them now. Something is missing and it can't help but feel unreal, like what we are doing and feeling is temporary. Bubba still thinks it is. He often refers to "when dad comes home" and Junior, who seems to finally be getting it, will say "remember Bubba, dad is never coming back home..." He sounds subdued and resigned and it is clear that he is still not fooled by the lure of another bedroom and fun weekends if it means that dad lives across town. I think something in me will really break the day that Bubba also stops patiently expecting his daddy to come home. Something has already broken in me that Sis will never know to expect that daddy's do anything but live far away and see them a few times a week.
I want my little "monkey see" and "monkey do" to understand what a family life should be and I am afraid to have this situation become normal for them at such a young age. They will never know how it should feel to have a united mom and dad under the same roof committed to them. J and I have tried to agree that we will remain as close as possible in terms of raising them and keeping rules and curfews and morals consistent But if parenting with a partner in the home is hard, parenting with a partner from a distance who is giving into a life of morals I don't agree with is completely terrifying. There is no guarantee that we can remain on the same pages now regarding the upbringing of these kids for the next 18 years. I don't want them to grow up this way, always shuttling back and forth between parents. I don't ever want them to think that this is an acceptable life for their children either. People (J included, I believe) tend to generalize my future for me in an attempt to comfort me in my current circumstance and I know their story for me ends with "...and she found a really great guy and they got married." Even though I know that this sentiment is kindly meant, to me it doesn't feel anywhere near that easy or probable. It's very ironic that J, who has found himself to be a Dr. Laura fan, always said he wholeheartedly agreed with her sentiment that if you get divorced, you DO NOT remarry until your children are grown and gone. I'm not sure where I stand. I am even more protective of my little ones than ever. Someone who is willing to love my kids mostly for my sake will not be acceptable. My standards for a second father for these kids will be very high. When it comes right down to it, their own father was not willing to remain here and raise them, even though he does love them (just not more than his own path and desires). I have a very hard time believing that anyone else can or will love my children enough to satisfy me. I will never say never, but the bottom line is that my kids don't need two dads who only half-love them. I took a chance on J when he asked me to marry him. I invested everything I had in this life of ours. I envisioned raising our children together, retiring and growing old together. I never thought for a moment that anything except death would thwart those plans. I sometimes wonder if he took the best of my ability to love anyone else because I will never be that trusting again. What clinches it is that he did nothing to try to regain that trust. He never gave me the option to see if I could get that back. I thought I could, but now I will never know.
So here I am on another lonely, quiet weekend, missing my boys. I have been sitting here wondering if I would have changed things and not married J if I had known how this relationship would turn out and it is so tempting to say yes (cue Garth Brook's 'The Dance'...). Then I remember what Junior has been saying to me a lot lately:
"I'm really glad I have you, mom!"
And the answer will always be no!