Duncan and Berry got back last Thursday from visiting their Dad for 4 weeks.
I confess, I enjoyed the time off. At least the first 2-3 weeks. By the last week, I’m into the pining stage, balancing my desire to talk to them and text with them with their need to be able to enjoy their time with their Dad and not be bugged by me. Or reminded constantly that they’ll be home soon.
I met up with Kevin and the kids at their school garden a couple of days before their official return date. I swear they grew in those 4 weeks. I captured Berry’s reaction to my appearance in my memory — at first it was a look of surprise, then wariness, then delight. I hugged her and, for a moment or two, she seemed unfamiliar to me. I wondered who this big child was, was she really mine? Then it all flooded back and she felt like my own again. I felt her go through the same emotions and we talked about it later. It was an interesting experience for both of us.
When the kids go to see their Dad, it feels like my heart is carried away outside myself in two little bodies. It’s a vulnerable feeling. It takes a while to become accustomed to being responsible for only myself again. I’m still responsible to Adam, of course, and Emma and Sam when they’re home with us. I make sure everyone remains fed and caffeinated as appropriate. But, in general, I’m off duty.
It was good.
The thing I wanted most while I was in the process of being laid off was to not have responsibilities for a bit. I needed some space in my life and within myself to think and feel and move through it all. That wasn’t really an option at the time. But going on holiday for two weeks and having lovely brain break from real life, and then having 4 weeks off from the unrelenting joy of parenting was wonderful.
I worried that it had been too wonderful. That I wouldn’t adjust gracefully to the responsibility of the kids when they returned. That I’d be stressed out by the balance of starting to build a business with being a mother during the long days of summer vacation.
But it’s been good.
There were a couple of days of Duncan missing his Dad at random times. And Berry yelling at me for transgressions such as not feeding her ice cream for lunch. (I could start a new version of “Why My Kid Is Crying” with “Why My Daughter Is Yelling At Me” but I don’t want to encourage her.)
But then we all settled in. And I feel so blessed to have this time with them.
I’ve been aiming for something fun, or at least interesting, every day. We went to the movies, went strawberry and raspberry picking, spent birthday gift cards, excavated the sprinkler system, played at the playground. Nothing huge. But we’re together. And I really enjoy it. The only time I’ve really yelled was when Duncan deliberately sprayed Berry in the face with the hose after she sprayed him a bit too much. And we all apologized to each other.
I worried that working for myself would give me too much time with the kids, especially before they go back to school. That, maybe I’d forgotten how to be a mother. We were in quite the grind before — get up, get ready, go to school/work, come home, cook dinner, bath, bed, start again. I wasn’t being the mum I’d always intended.
But now I have the chance to do it better. Every day.