Hmmm…. after having my kids solo for two weeks my ex took them to their family compound in Missouri for their last hurrah of summer before school started. There wasn’t a specific duration to the trip planned, however, so rather than being able to plan out my solo time and slip in a trip or anything, I just hoped they’d last a week before coming back to hot late-summer Colorado.
It’s now been ten days and apparently they’re doing very well on their holiday with Mom, though the weather hasn’t cooperated and other than the very first day, it’s rained every day, which is definitely not a good thing when you’ve gone out to go boating and swim in a big lake!
I know that in post-divorce parenting books they talk a lot about encourage channels of communication between children and the parent with whom they aren’t staying, but for my kids, for reasons I will talk about in a moment, when they’re with one parent, they’re generally very focused on being with that person at that moment.
But not this time…
When I had my kids for those two weeks I think the only time they communicated with Mom was when I encouraged them to check in and see how they were doing. Mom had gone to Hawai’i solo, however, so they were a bit envious, even though we were having a great time at Seaworld and other Southern Californian tourist hotspots. Still, two weeks and the talked on the phone maybe once?
While they’ve been in Missouri for the last ten days, however, I’ve heard from one or more of them every 2-3 days, typically phone calls, but my eldest, A-, 12, is also getting into Gmail and we chat on the computer too when she can get online. It’s nice, and I love getting email from my kids – it’s 100x better than any email I get from friends or colleagues.
Which leads me to really wonder why they’re contacting me more than “normal”, and why, in general, they are so autonomous even as “the experts” say that they should be wanting to check in with both parents with regularity. My theory? It’s in two parts. First, children really live in the moment, so for them, if they’re with Mom, they’re with her, and that’s that.
The second part of my theory is that as they’ve tried to figure out this whole weird two-household, two autonomous parents (who don’t parent the same) world that’s been thrust upon them, they’ve realized that if they are thinking about the parent that they’re not with that they’ll just get sad and miss the other one.
It’s the post-divorce sucky part of “the grass is always greener”, but in this case, it’s that it’s greener when they’re in the fantasy world of Mom and Dad being happy together and us all having a happily-ever-after family and home. We don’t, but I can totally appreciate their desire not to keep thinking about it and instead practice the Zen of accepting the world within which they live.
As for me? I miss ’em more than I expected I would, considering that I’m busy as heck with my work and social life. It’s the grins and jokes, the earnest discussions about something we’ve seen or experienced. Again, though, I am very aware that if I wasn’t getting calls from them and email from them, they’d be a bit more out of mind.
The good news? They’re on their way back. They’ll be home Sunday night. And I’ll sure be glad to see them.