It’s not often that I sit back and reflect on “me” time. I extend myself beyond measure on any normal, typical day. My days are filled with writing, chores, animals, work, family, and, of course, my tiny human. But, because of divorce and court ordered custody, I do get time for me, for myself, sans child. There are weekends with no “Mommy, can I have a lollipop?” There are days in which toys are not creating treacherous obstacle courses. There is even television outside of Dora The Explorer, before eight in the evening.
I know, right?
Today, instead of reflecting on all the ways I miss Tiny when he’s gone, instead of lamenting on all the holidays, and moments I miss when he is not around, I want to take a moment–a second in time–to reflect on the ways my life differs from other single moms, and married moms. Yes, I miss Tiny when he’s not near. Yes, I feel the ache of his absence on a regular basis.
Yes, I spend the entire weekend snuggling Mr. Kitty, because I miss my tiny human snuggles.
But, there are ways in which my life, through divorce and custody, affords me peace and quiet. There are days when I almost remember what my life was like, circa 2007, when I was unmarried, and childless. Not to mention, I realize how nice it can be, at times, to understand the differences of being a divorced mom, in the wake of my married mom, and single mom, counterparts.
Therefore, I compiled a list of seven things that I get to accomplish, on the weekends, as a divorced momma.
1) Sleep in.
Sleep is a precious commodity. It’s a rare jewel. It is, truly, a nicer gift than diamonds. Therefore, when my tiny human is not around, I sleep late. I sleep like a dead person. I sleep like my life depends on every millisecond that I get to continue the process of closing my eyes.
Because, I know that the moment my child gets back home, he won’t let me sleep in. He’ll wake his tiny little bum up with the rising of the sun, and then start asking me for things. Things that force me to get my grumpy bum out of bed, and morph into Mom, the Morning Maid.
When he is not here, I take that precious gift of sleep, curl into my bed, and cherish every moment.
2) Make a full pot of coffee, and drink it.
I make coffee every morning. I make a full pot of coffee, every morning. But, because I’m a mom, I’m drinking it while I make a child-approved breakfast. I’m drinking it while finding the correct TV program. I’m drinking it while feeding the puppy dogs, brushing my hair, and getting dressed. I’m drinking it while picking out my child’s clothing, and getting him dressed. I’m drinking it while wrestling dogs into crates for the day (because they are tiny pee monsters), and cajoling a child toward the car.
What I’m not doing, what I cannot do, is drink my coffee.
When my beautiful, green-eyed child is not home, I make my full pot of coffee. I breathe in the smell of it. I watch the steam roll off the surface of the caffeinated substance, wrap my hands around the warmth of the cup, and take a long, slow sip.
3) Sit in absolute silence.
Television is not important to me anymore. My days are filled with Boomerang, Sprouts TV, Nick Jr, Netflix cartoons, and, on rare occasions, Disney Jr. I cannot recount the amount of times I’m surprised by the things I see on Peppa Pig, or how I encourage my child to, “Try it, you’ll like it.”
My days are filled with encouraging songs I’ve memorized from various children’s television cartoons, to the point in which I barely recognize the TV when it is on.
When I wake up on a child-free weekend, I walk into the living room, sit down, and listen to the quiet.
Quiet is a nice sound.
4) Create a list of back burner, To Do items.
This is the one time I will actually admit this, out loud (okay, in writing, so it’s more permanent), but there are chores that become almost impossible when a child is around. These are typically the chores that begin with, “Honey, can you watch the tiny human for a minute, while I perform an Act of God?”
In my case, my Act of God is cleaning the house. I cannot describe the frustration of spending over an hour in one room, scrubbing countertops, vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and clearing the room of everything that shouldn’t be on the floor, only to blink, and find it a junk pile of sippy cups, spilled yogurt, and Lego pieces.
Like, flipping blink.
Therefore, when my child is not around, I clean. I pick up, dust off, mop, vacuum, and sort. For two entire days, I can walk around my house, chest puffed like a proud peacock. I gaze around my Kingdom, and deem it good.
… And then my child comes home, the toys come out, and my standard of “clean” disintegrates.
5) Contemplate meal planning.
I am not a food planner. I drive to the grocery store with no idea of what I’m going to buy. I walk out with $100 of items that might turn into some sort of edible dish that my child won’t eat.
On the weekends that I don’t have Tiny, I think about what I’ll cook for the week. I pick a dish, make a mental list, and drive to the store, meal planning prepared. Of course, something happens, and the meal doesn’t get made 99% of the time.
Like yesterday, I decided to make lasagna, drove to the store, and there were no perishables, due to the freak, weekend storms. Go figure.
6) Catch up on world events, or read a book.
I’m a reader. I devour news articles, books, and blogs throughout the day. It is my every day. If I don’t read, I feel off–kind of like when I don’t write. But, with a child, most of the articles, books, or blogs are cut into fifteen to thirty short snippets. The entire story loses its point, or I misinterpret some of the information through the sippy cup making, toy fixing, accident avoiding process.
When Tiny isn’t around on a weekend, I maintain focus. I can sit for five minutes, and read an article. I can lounge for hours on end, and read a book. I can analyze the writing process, think about world events, deliberate hidden meaning, and analyze.
Because I can focus on reading, I feel more focused in writing–which makes it easier to write about being a mom.
7) Take a nap.
See Number One. Ha! but, seriously. Sleep is amazing.
Tiny, unfortunately, is no longer a napper. The last time I remember him taking a nap, he was three. My child moves with constant energy; he’s a boundless force. Every muscle in his tiny body can move from the moment the sun comes up, to well after the sun goes down.
As a mom, I lose energy throughout the day. It’s not often that I want to nap, and it’s even more rare that I can nap. But, if the need is great, and the tiny human is not around, I take full advantage, curl in bed, and sleep.
This weekend, getting out of bed, walking into the living room, and sitting down, I realized my life was slightly different than circa 2007. As I gaze around my loud-free, sippy cup-free, Avenger-free living room, I am realizing something. I’m much more appreciative of my “me” time than I was when I was unmarried, and childless. The things I do when my child isn’t around means more to me, now, than it ever did.
Reflecting on the child-free moments that I get, due to custody arrangements, allows me to see the good with the bad. I often talk about how much I miss my child, and how much I cannot wait for him to come home. However, sometimes it’s beneficial for me to stop complaining, and count my blessings. From this compiled list, I can see the positive attributes, and acknowledge the small amount of “me” time, when it does come.