You can always tell who the divorced parents are at school dropoff. The most telltale sign is the “overnight” backpack or the Pillow Pet. Not to mention the look of complete and total exhaustion. I’m not saying that married parents aren’t exhausted too, it’s just, well…different. We look at each other knowingly and say absolutely nothing. Nothing needs to be said. I get it. They get it. We nod and keep going. No one has the energy to find out if they’re even single or dating or what. Not worth it at 7:50 in the morning.
Divorce can be the best of both worlds. I have hyper-focused time with my kids, which can be exhausting and all-consuming, but then I get a chunk of time off, which I find is mostly spent catching up on all the stuff that was laid to waste while I had the kids. I remember being married and wishing I had just one god-damn weekend to myself. Hey, look at me now!
I’m finding out that I really can’t do it all alone. It truly does take a village. My kids have me, their Dad, his girlfriend, his parents, my parents, and a handful of sitters, not to mention the teachers and day-care providers – all villagers revolving around these two little people. (I have thoughts on who is the village idiot, but won’t go down that rabbit hole.)
I’ve learned to power cook and freeze on my weekends off so I don’t have to cook every night. (I learned the hard way that potato salad doesn’t freeze well.) Right now I’m trying to figure out when we will have time to put up the Christmas tree and decorate, and I’m coming up short with a solution because of the custody schedule, but somehow it will all come together. How will I handle homework? I don’t know. We’re not there yet. But I imagine it will make things more hectic and make me feel stupid. I can spell and do math like crazy, but I’ve never been good at word problems, grammar or history. Sorry, kids, that’s what the internet is for. So I’ve heard.
Already my daughter is in kindergarten and she has soccer practice, soccer games, Daisy scouts, play dates, birthdays, and oh yeah, school. Throw in two households, an insane carpool schedule, three working parents, and you’ve got a very delicate balance with military precision that one sniffle could collapse. Volunteering at school or 7:30am meetings require an act of God or better yet, Congress, to get us all to our destinations on time. All it takes is someone showing up late, or God forbid early, to throw the train off the rails.
I often find myself making plans for play dates just to have an extra set of eyes around to make sure no one is running off or putting a plastic bag over their head (like my son was doing the other morning.) I also find myself steering away from bigger outings unless I know another adult will be there with me. There are just too many variables now that my youngest is out of the stroller. I’m really not in the mood to test how well dialing 911 works on my cell phone.
I read an article recently on Back-to-School tips, which included “get Dad to help.” That actually made me laugh. My head hits the pillow at night wrapped in a sea of spinning color-coded calendars and a healthy dose of faith that it will all work out.
And it totally works for me.
In honor of NaBloPoMo.