My kids left today… They’ll be with their dad for seven days.
I’m familiar with the routine. I walk around the house to pick up empty dishes, dirty washing off the floor and I excavate the remote control from under the sofa. As I grab another cup of coffee, I’m stopped by the full glass of juice on the kitchen table. Left behind, forgotten about in the morning rush, waiting patiently for its drinker to return. At first, I think, “I need to throw that away; he won’t be here for a week.” Then the importance of this week hits me: his birthday is on Wednesday, and I won’t get to kiss his little cheek. He’ll be seven. Where has the time gone? I am undone.
As a divorced mum who shares custody, sadness settles deeply in my core. In unexpected moments like today, the rawness bubbles to the surface, spills over in tears and trickles down my cheek. I will only see my boys half the time they are growing up. I did the maths. I really hate maths, but it’s non-emotional and logical. I could use that right now. My youngest will be 7. He has 11 years until he finishes school. With 52 weeks a year times 11 years, there are 572 weeks left until he’s moved out. But, I will only have him in my home 286 weeks. 286 weeks sounds like a lot, but 364 weeks as a mum have already passed… I am undone.
As I let the logic of the maths seep in, my mission is clear. I must make the most of my valuable, limited time with my boys. I am undone. But I am not without hope.
I’ve discovered 5 ways to make the most of 286 weeks:
- Reconsider babysitters. I’ve decided if a girl’s night out, fun event, date or anything else requiring a babysitter lands on my weeks, I will most likely say no. When my boys are at their Dad’s I have free reign.
- Evaluate helping with church or other volunteer opportunities. Unless my boys can be involved, I will protect their time and say no. I value helping and serving, but I value time with my boys more. It may be a no for now, but not forever.
- Make weekends fun! I have set aside a budget for weekend activities. We decide ahead of time what we’d like to do and make a plan. I don’t spend a lot, even riding bikes to the park is fun time together.
- Turn the radio off in the car. Car time is great talking time for us. I get to hear about life with their dad and their friends at school. We also talk about the hard stuff like, “Why are you and dad divorced? I wish we all lived in one house.” Somehow, not being face to face is a little less intense and my kids open up more.
- Evening time is kid time. After a long day working, making dinner, showers, I’m exhausted and crave some time alone. However, I have discovered a beautiful little window into my boys’ world by watching what they watch, playing the games they play and getting some shoulder to shoulder time. I have even found these activities to be very relaxing and a great way for me to unwind!
Do you have to be a divorced mum to be undone by the time you have left with your kids? Do the maths! You may find that the limited time you have with your precious children is a universal mum concern. Being undone is only the catalyst for change. Staying undone will paralyze me. I may have only 286 weeks, but I’ve also got a plan. And I’m not going to waste any more time crying about it!
Lori works at MOPS International as the Regional Outreach Team Lead. She’s also a writer, speaker and a divorced mama of two exceptional boys, 10 and 7. Lori’s most favorite thing to do during her off time are swimming, running, biking, hiking and traveling to far off places. It was during the most painful and challenging event in her life that she came to understand the full measure of Jesus’ love for her and she’s been following his lead ever since. You can find her blog at asoftplacetolandblog.wordpress.com.