(This post was written in 2009, while our kids are older now and we don’t experience this quite so much – I hope it can help you navigate the pain of sharing.)
Yesterday, my house was eerily quiet by 8pm. The laundry was feasible in a few loads. The floors were clean and our grocery bill was cut in half it’s normal total.
It’s Summer, which means 4 out of our 5 children go spend quality time with their other parents for 6 weeks. Zack’s babies head down South to Texas and my daughters go South-East to Kentucky.
I hate it.
Well intentioned people recommend using the time to spend extra time with my husband. Or mention that Mia must love having her mommy and daddy all to herself.
But all I can think about is how much I am missing.
A toothless-smile greeting me when I get home from the office. A chaotic dinner around the table where laughter bellows through the air. Requests for books to be read, pancakes to be flipped, and kisses to be smooched.
My husband wasn’t greeted with beaming faces carrying his breakfast in bed on Father’s Day. I didn’t get to see the glow of bright fireworks on their faces this July Fourth. We haven’t applied Calamine lotion to mosquito-bitten legs or lathered up excited children with sunscreen in preparation of pool time.
What we do to make the separation a positive experience though is what matters. We web-cam and chat on the phone. Share minute details of our days with the kids and remind them just how much we love them.
I’m very blessed to have my own family and friends in the same town as my ex-husband. My friends have posted pictures of the girls at barbecues and church camp. I’ve gotten to see their beaming faces with their grandparents and other loved ones which makes the hurt sting a little less. Though our situation is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination, my kids are pretty lucky. They have heaps of people that love them to pieces. Truly, what more could I ask for?
It’s true, even with children, that absence makes the heart grow fonder. They return to Nebraska this week-end and I am ready! I have renewed patience and I’ve taken time for me. They have enjoyed their time away as well and are anxious to get back to their life here.
Long distance shared custody is more common than ever. Who else is spending their summers missing pieces of their family? How do you cope and what brings you strength?