Free Time, Revisited


There is no sound in my house today. No toys are being smashed together. No one is calling for yogurt, bananas, or gummy bear vitamins. No Dora the Explorer; no Max and Ruby.

No laughter, no craziness, no joy.

Just one, lonely mommy, with nothing but chores to accomplish, and oodles of time on her hands.

In the life of a single, divorced mom, there is a lot of “free time.” There are days, followed by extended weekends, followed by breaks in which no child is present, and down time is the scheduled agenda. To the rest of the world, it is seen as a chance for me, the mom, to spend time by myself. I hear reference to my toddler-free lifestyle a lot in both my personal, and work environments.

“Do you have your son this weekend? Oh, what a nice break! You can go out, and have some fun.”

A divorced mom, whose child actually gets picked up on a regular schedule, is apparently one lucky momma. The dad is still in the child’s life, the child gets to visit both parents, and harmony occurs. Rainbows, butterflies, daffodils, and fairy dust seem to follow this rare breed of mom around. I mean, she gets her moments to decompress, has a chance to regain her sanity, and is allowed to “go out” and “have fun.” Because, mommies with visitation schedules, “get” every other weekend alone, sometimes even one extra day in a week alone, every other spring break alone, and thirty days in summer … alone.

Insert voice dripping with sarcasm here.

I’m just going to say this once: no, it’s not free time. I do not consider being without my child a chance to have fun, party, or quiet my mind. What I have is alone time, yes. But, it’s also missed time.

I miss my kid.

This mommy doesn’t “go out,” except for a rare occasion. Most days I spend home, doing housework, and home improvements. There is a long list of tasks milling about in my head, to keep me from remembering that my baby isn’t around that day—or for days to come.

Planning accordingly, I smash the long list of Back Burner To Do items in during my free, alone time. In my three years as a single mother, I find myself painting, and repainting, every room in my house. I rip out flowerbeds every summer. I tear out trees, lay sod, yank out up decking, and break concrete stones. When the heavy items on my list are complete, I start with the easy chores: mulch, scour, clean, wash, caulk.

Why on Earth am I so crazy about housework, and home repairs? Simple. These are all things that take hours out of my life, but keep me from going stir crazy without my tiny human around. He is my whirlwind; he is every second in every minute of every day.

Sure, I can accomplish all of the frivolous—read: sometimes important—tasks with baby boy around. But, really, they aren’t life-altering chores. Yes, things like laundry, cooking, and cleaning must be accomplished in order for our household to survive. And, sometimes I do ask my tiny person to help Mommy accomplish labor around the home.

But, honestly? Do I want to do menial chores on “my” days, and “my” weekends with my son? Heck no. Our days together are better spent at the park, running around, chasing birds.

That’s not to say that my life with Tiny is perfect. It isn’t always fairytales and happy endings. Like any mother on the planet, there are days where I would like nothing better than to hide under the covers, avoiding temper tantrums. I’m human. Sometimes I even wish dinner time didn’t come with, “Ew, gross, Mommy. I don’t eat that. Can I have peanut butter jelly instead?” And when I hear the words, “Here, Mommy,” there are times when I inwardly cringe, but still accept the booger. It’s all part-and-parcel of being a mom.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The idea that single, divorced moms should be thankful for all the free time they receive would be ludicrous, if I could work past my own sadness over the situation. My world is complete with my child, and I lovingly dub my home, “The World of Crazy.”

Here is a list of ways I miss my tiny human when Son Son is not at home:

– The way my child says Velociraptor, Spinosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Anklyosaurus, Triceratops, and Pterodactyl in his tiny, little, toddler voice.

– That moment at night, when baby boy snuggles up against me, droopy-eyed, ready for bed.

– The way my tiny son mimics every single character he sees on TV—including facial features, body language, and vocal stylings.

– The sound of a kitchen chair scraping its way across the kitchen floor, toward the refrigerator, even when my son knows he’s bound for the naughty chair.

– My son’s way of sneaking candy, and then hiding in plain sight to eat it.

– The sound of Tiny’s laughter. There is one for when he’s tickled pink, when he’s taken by surprise, when he thinks his mommy is being silly, and when he’s pretending to be an evil villain, an evil monster, or an evil dinosaur.

– The way my child looks into a mirror, and practices his facial features. Happy, sad, surprised, confused, frightened. His favorite is the pouting, crying face.

– The fact that from son up, to son down, our day is busy, and moving. Whether it’s a good day, or a trying day, there’s never a dull moment.

Sure, I like the ability to shower alone. I also like going to the bathroom by myself. I like drinking a hot cup of coffee. I like eating my food without sharing every other bite. I also really like not touching boogers.

But, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t miss those things like I miss my child.

If there is ever a person who opens their mouth to say how lucky a single, divorced mom is to spend time away from her child, think again. Being a mom is about the chaos; it’s about the struggle we face daily. As a mother, my biggest task is teaching my child to learn as much as he can about the world, and mold him into a person who cares about society. Free time keeps me from doing my main job, which is being a mother to my tiny person.

And, along the way, I will regret all the little moments I’ve missed.

Missed smiles. Missed learning. Missed laughter. Missed frowns. Missed boo boos. Missed tears.

All the moments that make us proud to be parents, I miss a fraction of, and won’t get back. No amount of “free time” will ever make up for that.

Therefore, I will always be sad for those moments. But, also, I will look ahead to hearing the giggles, seeing the crazy dancing, and watching the sneaking of lollipops. I look forward to holding my baby, and hearing him say, “I love you, Mommy.”

Most of all, I look forward to my child.

No comments posted on July 30, 2013 in Parenting, Winging It, Mom Style

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