I’m not going to lie, when I was truly a single Mom, at times, it was really hard. Since I’ve married my husband and have the emotional support of a wonderful but all be it, often absent partner, I’ve grown even more grateful for the one on one time I get to spend with all of our kids. Traveling back and forth between them means that I often have extended periods alone with the two in WI or we have our one in TX for a weekend all to ourselves.
I think a lot of women in traditional marriages wear themselves thin trying to adequately spread individual attention among their husbands, kids and jobs. This is probably even more true for second marriages with blended families because the focus of attention tends to center around what is fair. The bright side of our commuter marriage arrangement and single together mom role is that I get time with each of my family members individually and can organize some of my work in patterns around their schedules.
I have become more open to living in the moment and enjoying shared activities at all levels. From playing chess to painting or studying for a Social Studies test, even when that means dinner is going to be late or (heaven forbid) take-out, I know that these small personal attentions will matter in the long run. What’s more is that I enjoy them. Being fully present in each situation and location keeps me from straddling the gray line of defining often conflicting roles in dual households. I’ve always enjoyed the hands-on side of parenting and having room to play. Instead of stressing about finding time to go to the gym, sometimes I opt to walk with the kids to a park, play frisbee or bad mitten in the back yard. This way we are getting exercise and bonding together at the same time.
I prioritize work load based on when I do and do not have kids. After having worked 50+ hours a week for years, I admit this is a luxury. It can be challenging too. Trying to utilize my days when they are with their other parents and my husband is traveling to my full advantage of 12-hour workdays, frees me up from not feeling quilt when I spend other days focused on them and their activities or traveling from place to place. In the long view, there is quite an advantage. In the shorter view, it means that I go in and out of the groove constantly and, at the end of the day, am still trying to find the right structure and balance of wearing multiple hats.
I get a break. It wouldn’t be fair to write this article without admitting that unlike many married or single full-time Mom counterparts, the fact that I do get a break helps me manage my focus, stress levels and time. I can do things like read a book at leisure without interruption, meditate or watch an adult rated chick flick at seven o’clock at night. While missing them and missing out on things is a given when we are not together (a challenge faced by many divorced parents with shared custody) it also serves to make the connection and times when we are together even more precious.
Undeniably, the best and fullest times are when the five of us are together but I find I am grateful for time with everyone, including myself, alone.