Part Time Mother

 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.        ~ Romans 8:38-39

For the last year I have shared custody with my ex-husband. We have 50/50 custody, we live about a mile apart, we are (for the most part) amicable in this arrangement. I am lucky. There has not been any scaring or damaging court battle. We do not pin our children against each other. We have our complaints, but overall, we co-parent as well as two people ever could. We do not speak ill of each other or put our children in the middle of our own disagreements in front of our children. We make every decision together. This is the way it has always been since we became parents, this is the way, we both pray, it will always be.

When we first separated I read a lot of articles like this one and this one about brave women being honest about how they enjoyed their time away from their children and how they are better moms for it. I admit, I thought this would be me, and some days, it is. Some days are hard and I’m glad I don’t “have my children” those days. I have the flexibility to schedule meetings without the “guilt” of not being home for dinner. I can go to yoga without having to worry about what time the kids need to be picked up. Last night I didn’t eat dinner until 9pm and no one complained but me.

Truth is though, I had that before too.

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I was never intended to be a “mother” the way my foremothers were (BTW- spellcheck wants to change that to “forefathers” or “housemothers” I kid you not). I didn’t seek, nor ever intended to be a stay-at-home mom. In fact, I really wish I had it in me, I feel like a lesser mother because I don’t. (guilt for women if you do, guilt if you don’t…) But alas, I am a career mom (and proud for many reasons of it).

The agreement with having children in the first place was we had to be equal partner in it all. I was not cut out to do it alone. My ex-husband stayed home for 6 months at a time with each of our children when they were babies, I went back to work 8 weeks after giving birth both times, and was ready to do so. Yes, I took care of them as I worked from home many days a week, parenting was never one sided, it was always together. Seriously, he and I could write a book on model co-parenting. (PS- It’s consistency. Particularly with communication and scheduling).

In fact, I didn’t notice the problems in our marriage for so long because we were such great co-parents. We had great communication. We rarely had issues where the kids were concerned. We covered with and for each other, we were in agreement with the daily decisions and the big ones, we worked together. We do still, but it is very different.

I have no idea what they’re doing when they are not with me. We have issues with little things like not brushing my daughter’s hair or using the right shampoo (with my kids, hair is a big problem), did they get their allergy medicine? All the shoes and coats got left at his house and change of weather clothing is a demon in and of itself!

When I first separated people were trying, and trying hard to help me see a bright side. “I would kill for a weekend alone!” Guess what, those weekends alone? I don’t know what to do with myself! When I have my kids it’s exhausting and overwhelming, when I don’t, I get depressed. It’s all or nothing, no moderation. But it’s actually not “nothing.”

Because I may only have my kids part of the time, but that does not make me a part time mother. 

YES- I like going out without paying a babysitter. YES- I like having a Saturday without catering to every whim. YES- I like eating cookies and ice cream for dinner without explaining myself. YES- I love sleeping in.

But that does not mean on those days I stop being a mother. That I don’t think about, make decisions for, or feel guilt about not being with them.

In Romans, Paul lends beautiful pros to how God loves us. There is nothing we can do or not do to separate the love. If we reject God, God does not reject us. There is no way for God to STOP being God.

I am doing the best I can. Truth is, I have the “ideal” setup for divorced parents and it sucks. I want my kids all the time AND I want to share the responsibility of parenting, we just can’t be married or live together anymore. Do I stop being a mother when my kids are at school, or when they’re on a play date? No. You cannot separate me from my motherhood. Not having my kids all the time does not make me a part time mother. There is no such thing as being a part time mother. Period.

I am a mom. I am divorced. I share custody of my children. On the days I do not see my kids, I am still a mom.

By the way, If you sang Steve Wonder when reading this title, we are bonded forever as friends.

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Kick Me When I’m Down

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Yesterday I was working on the bulletin, as I do on Monday mornings, and of course, I decided life wasn’t hard enough so I was going to change the scripture, liturgy, and hymns I had previously picked.  Because of course. As I searched for a better text for my theme I read this verse from 2 Corinthians.

But God said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. -2 Corinthians 12:9

I stared at this text for a while, contemplated using it, and then got really angry. I mean ridiculously angry.  I texted with some friends about what this could mean. I mean, I know what it means, “I must decrease so Christ can increase” it means that those of us in positions of power should get out of the way for God, for God alone has true power. It means a loss of ego, of self, of worldly pride and power. It means being knocked on our asses the way Paul was.

But yesterday, it felt like God was kicking me while I was down. Forcing me to stay down. Like me lying on the floor in the fetal position, arms protecting my face, begging for it to stop.

It’s been a hard few weeks.  I am adjusting to a custody schedule where I only see my children 7 of every 14 days. We are “nesting” until my husband’s apartment is ready and I am tired of living out of a suitcase. I am working with a lawyer to write a separation agreement, dividing debt, making budgets in which I adjust to a new way of life and a new financial reality.

Money wise I’ve been here before. For many years of our marriage we were on one income. 5 years one of us was in graduate school, there were at least 2 years thanks to the economic recession that my husband was out of a job and I made less than $30,000 a year. I made it work, we had more than enough, we provided for our children, I will do it again, I am just tired and don’t want to.

Which is where the kicking feeling came into play.

I like my God as a good God, one that does not kick me when I’m down. One that lays on the bathroom floor with me while I cry uncontrollably, one that weeps with me and loves me through the pain and darkness.

I appreciate that God can give me a swift kick in the ass every once in a while or a smack upside the head, that’s fine, that correcting. But does God kick me when I’m down? Has God done this before and I blamed myself or others?

 Maybe it’s a little of both, maybe I’m missing the whole point. But it’s a thought worth exploring.