We both want the same things

The past few days have been very different for me. In a good way.

Since Thursday my ex-wife has been at work conference and these things go on till late. Talks all day, dinner in the evening, talking about collaborations and mutually beneficial projects and papers, networking and shizzle like that. She’s not done this for a while as, well, you know from my previous posts, life has changed. It’s a massively important part of her job and she’s entering into a period where she’ll have to go to a few more conferences as the nature of her project is changing and some of these will be overseas.

Yeah, you do detect a big smile on my face.

This means I get to spend a lot more time with my children.

And so, while my ex has been at this conference, I’ve been picking the children up from playgroup, making them dinner, sorting out bath time, story time and bed time and tucking them into bed. Back in the SAHD-dle so to speak. And this weekend I was with them for the entire two days.

Over the weekend we did fun things because we fucking well could. Went to a soft play centre and had lunch in a restaurant. Played in splashpools and fountains and went to a fair. It was a lot of fun and us three children were all happy and sleepy come bedtime. Saturday night I think I slept with a smile on my face.

But tomorrow it will be back to normal as the conference is over. Their mum will pick them up from playgroup and we’ll go back to our usual routine. And I know, come 5.30pm I’ll be thinking about how much I just want to pick them up from playgroup and see their faces, hear their “Daddy! Daddy!” and hear from the leader of the group how good they’ve been. Hearing this from someone else makes my heart swell with pride. A feeling, as any parent knows, can’t be matched.

Doing this has made me realise how much I miss the old job, as a SAHD. And, actually, how this job fitted me very well. I got to spend time with the two most important people in the world but I know I’ve learnt more about them over the past few days than I have in ages.

And yet I also know I can’t ask my ex-wife if I can do this more often, because I know that she loves it too. For me to ask to do this two or three times a week, would deny her the opportunity of doing something she loves. I spent three years being a SAHD and she missed out on things like their first steps, first words and first tantrums. She missed out on time with them as they grew up.

Now my ex-wife takes them to playgroup, works all day and then picks them up and takes them home. She doesn’t spend all day with them like I used to. Every day she only spends two and a half hours with them, an hour in the morning and an hour and a half making dinner and doing bedtimes. To ask for more opportunities for me to do this would take something away from her.

Much as I want to. Much as I want to say ‘T&K are also my children. I want to do this’ I can’t. I can’t take this precious time away from her.

It’s so damn hard being a parent who can’t spend as much time with your children as you want, or as much as you did when you cared for them full-time. You look back and compare the time you used to spend with them and the small amount of time you have with them now. And at times you can’t help feel anything other than cheated. It wasn’t supposed to be LIKE THIS!

But it is. This is life now. Our children don’t love one or other of us more than the other, and thankfully my ex-wife and I are consistent with things like discipline, mealtimes, what they eat and when they eat it. We share a similar attitude to bedtimes and the amount of times the TV can be on, and we…

Actually it’s funny. A couple of weeks back T was playing up at dinner time and my ex-wife and I said the same thing to him at the same time. “If you don’t eat your meal then there will be no playing in the conservatory!” T got it in stereo, poor bugger, from two people who hadn’t agreed this but knew instinctively that this was the only way we could negotiate this scenario. It showed we were on the same wavelength.It showed something good. It showed that despite all the trauma and horror of the past 9 months we actually agreed on something!

I offered her a high five but she declined.

Tomorrow will be different. It’s probably why I was feeling a bit blue today. I knew today would be the last day of me doing this for a while, but I know that my ex-wife has missed this too while she’s been sitting in boring talks by boring speakers, because of what her job requires. I know how pleased she’ll be to see their faces, hear their “Mummy! Mummy!” and hear from the leader of the group how good they’ve been. Her heart will swell with as much pride as mine did.

We both want the same things, and sadly we can’t have them at the same time. But I’m lucky, blessed and honoured to be able to spend any time I can with my children. Some people aren’t as fortunate.

Thanks for reading.

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22 responses to “We both want the same things

  1. Great post … my heart goes out to you. My husband sees much more of our kids than I do as I work full time, silly hours, and am lucky to spend half an hour with them when I get home. I missed our daughter saying ‘bath’ for the first time today … I miss lots of silly (read big) things.

    Am sending a big virtual hug x

  2. Have you thought about taking a child each one or two days of the week and alternating it. You get to spend time with T for instance and your ex gets K. The kids benefit from one on one time with each of you in turn. Might be the way forward.

    • That could be a good idea but the thing is T&K miss each other when they’re not together. So we have to bear that in mind. It may help though for when T goes to school soon, so that’s a sensible idea.
      Thanks for reading and for your great suggestion.

  3. What a heartfelt post. And although you count yourself lucky, from where I’m sat, your ex-wife and children are also darned lucky to have you too. I hope your smile returns soon.

    • Thanks. It will. When I see my children next.
      My ex-wife is a wonderful woman and a brilliant mum and, as I said, to deny her time to be so is unfair. For her and for our children who I know want to be with us both.
      Thanks for reading and for your comment.

  4. It is to your credit that you have such respect for your ex-wife but this isn’t about you and her. Your children don’t care what you both do during the day. They care about spending time with their Mum and Dad. If you think they would like, and would benefit from you spending more time with them, then maybe you could ask for a couple of evenings a week with them. I know how hard it is. My ex-husband and I separated when our son was two and we have been through (very) trying times but six years on I hope we have found a way to share time with our boy that works for him. I cannot deny that I am sometimes lonely when my son is with his Dad (sharing birthdays and Christmas is a particular killer) but I try to remember that he needs his Dad too. I truly hope you find a way to spend regular time with your children that works for you all.

  5. This moved me to tears – having had to deal with an ex who couldn’t give a shit about my feelings, let alone our childs needs, I think you are amazing and the kids and your ex-wife are indeed lucky to have you. Thank you for writing such a great post – big hugs 🙂

  6. What a cracking post, As a dad who has a son living 100 miles away and him choosing his jealous mum over me, she became bitter when my wife had our first child, you sound an absolute fantastic father and the parent child time is awesome,Hard and heartbreaking at times without them but just keep cherishing the wonderful times you have together. 🙂

  7. Such a lovely post. You are amazingly unselfish & your children will love you all the more for it. I hope you get plenty more quality time with them x

  8. I loved this post. I’m finding hard to be a SAHM as I wasn’t born this way, but I know that the moment I’ll go back to work, I’ll miss G like crazy. I hope you all find the right balance in a way that works for you all. (I can’t believe T is going to school soon! time does fly, doesn’t it?)

    • Thanks darlin’ – I’m sure we will find the right balance. After all, it’s not about us any more but more about what the children want and soon they’ll be able to make that more clear to us. Already T states how much he wants to spend time with me at my house and I know that will come soon.

  9. I have to say this is such a moving post. I would like to echo what some of the others have said & suggest you find a way that maybe they can spend more equal time with you both. For everyone’s benefit hopefully. My husband and his ex wife share custody straight 50/50 with their son, and I have to say that though it’s not without it’s difficulties, everyone seems to get a good deal and be happy with the arrangements. It’ll take time & years of practice, but it will get easier! I remember my husband being really happy when his son got to the stage that he could have phone conversations as now on the days where they don’t see each other, they at least speak & it helps with reducing how much he misses him. Good luck with it all. X

    • Thanks. Certainly, on the days I don’t see them I always call them at 7.00pm and have a wee chat.
      Also, as they get older I know things will change. Sleepovers can happen and T and I can have a boys night in with beers and pizza and… okay, maybe not beers and pizza as he’s only 3 but you know what I mean.
      Changes have to take place, but for now, this is what we’re happiest with, and this is a period of stability when, for so long, there’s been a lot of fluctuation. For now this is good.
      Thanks for reading and for your suggestions, which are good food for thought.

  10. Thanks for writing this – so good to hear ‘the other side’ of things. So hard to get the balance right when you’re not together, but I know from experience that one day your children will turn around and tell you just how much they know what you went through, and they’ll be grateful that you both showed so much dignity and care. Been there, hold on tight… it will be ok (total high five)

  11. I have always wondered why you don’t have them during the day instead of them going to nursery? They would see you all day and still spend the same amount of time with their Mum. I realise this means seeing each other twice a day but its worth it, right? Hope it works out and I really feel for you. I am about to find a job and I really dont know how to manage without my boys all day xx

  12. Couldn’t they spend a day or two a week with you instead of at playgroup? That would benefit everyone since, much as they might love their group, most children would prefer to spend the day with a parent.

    • It’s tricky. It’s a ‘daddy or chips’ moment and I know they both love being together at playgroup, love their friends and love all the playgroup offer them. It’s hard to know what’s best but I think we’ve got it right. I think.

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