Every Friday as I leave for work, I know that while I’ll see my oldest daughter when I get home from work, I won’t see my youngest again until Monday.
The is the routine her father and I have unofficially adopted since our recent separation. She spends the week at home – since she has school. And then on the weekends it’s off to her grandparents’ house to be with her dad.
It’s something I’m still not quite used to. I find myself with a lump in my throat as I walk out the door for work. I miss having her around on weekends. But I also know how much she loves being with her dad, so I’d never deprive her of that.
The fact that I’ve become the “un-fun” parent since our separation has made this even harder.
I am the weekday parent. That means my kids’ time with me revolves around our same tight schedule and routine. Meals have to be eaten by a certain time. Bedtimes have to be adhered to.
I also get to be the one to wake the kids up for school when they’d rather sleep. And send them off on the bus when they’d rather stay home. For my 5-year-old, this means she’s mad at me – a lot. I bear the brunt of her attitude, and I think that makes her a little excited to leave every Friday.
I’m also the parent on a budget. I’ve gone from a two-income household to supporting everyone, paying every bill, and buying every necessity on my part-time income. While it’s been doable, it has also meant that there is no room for extras.
Dad on the other hand has lots of disposable income to spend on trips to Lego Land, movies and Chuck E. Cheese. He can surprise them with toys and clothes. Things I just cannot do right now.
In this short time, my daughter has begun equating who she wants to spend time with, with who is going to buy her things and take her places.
While it hurts to feel like I’m in a competition with her dad that I cannot win, I know she’s only five. So, of course Chuck E. Cheeses is going to win over sitting at home with mom all weekend.
Becoming the boring parent on a budget has been one of the hardest parts of my separation. Having my baby who was once my shadow tell me that she only wants to stay home if we can go fun places or buy toys is painful.
But I also believe that this is simply a hurdle and every part of this new journey serves a purpose. And for that reason, I refuse to give up.