This will be a short little ditty, because I'm reserving mental energy for this week, but it's weighing on my mind. June's dad and I share custody of her. It wasn't an easy decision to come to and took months of adjusting. Some days I hate it, and some days I hate it less. I didn't have her this weekend because I went on a leader's retreat with my church, and I miss her tremendously. More than usual. I think it's because she is really growing up into a tiny human, able to hold conversations and spell her name and say things like, "Momma, I love you. You're the best." Also, having her in Preschool has somehow transformed her. She was always at child care centers with me, where I worked, but true Preschool is new for us. It makes her more grown up and I'm still not sure how I'm coming to terms with that.
Back to joint custody. June's dad and I have come to an arrangement that works with our schedules and serves June the best. We do 2 days on, 2 days off, 5 days on, 5 days off. Seems complicated at the outset, but it's seamless, and really easy to swap days/weekends when it's necessary. While I hate being apart from her, and miss her so, so much, I have grown to appreciate 'me' time and take advantage of extra time for chores, cleaning, writing, and work. Yet, nearly everything I do is marked with little reminders of her, which make me miss her more, so it's somewhat like a pendulum; swinging back and forth between appreciation of my alone time and the acute sensation of little arms hugging my neck.
If you're a joint custody parent - or a parent that shares custody at all - you'll know the feeling. You're dreading letting your little one out of your arms but simultaneously planning your evening. You feel a tinge of sadness and maybe the prick of a tear as you wave good-bye while you mentally check off the list of things you plan to accomplish. Some weekends, I know how busy I'll be, so the time goes by fast, and pretty soon, June's back in my arms. Other weekends, even with the promise of sleeping in and kid-free lunch dates, the minutes tick by and I miss her so acutely I just ache.
It certainly helps that she is excited to see her dad. She still always hugs me, says, "I love you, too" and gives me a kiss. She always waves as they drive away. The minute she sees either one of us coming to pick her up, she runs right into our arms like it's been years. Those are the best greetings.
When people ask me if it's hard to share her, I want to laugh. "Of course not!" I jokingly say. What I really mean is, of course it's hard. Of course I want her all to myself. But would I deprive her of a loving relationship with her father to satisfy my maternal selfishness? Not a chance. That relationship has the potential to be just as enriching as my relationship with her, and I won't take that away simply because I don't like to share. She's not a possession. She's a living, breathing creature who needs both parents to love her and support her. I wouldn't take that away from her. And while I miss her tremendously (I get her back Tuesday morning; I haven't seen her since Thursday morning) I am learning more and more to appreciate my time. It also creates and re-creates a tiny void in me that June so delightfully gets to refill every time we're reunited.
It's taken some time, but that is what I've grown to love.
Brooke + JuneBug