Sunday, January 18, 2009

do you know my ex? OR why good fathers do single mothers a disservice

I was riding home from Borders tonight (completed 9 miles today), in the frigid cold, and I was thinking about stuff. I come up with a lot of things to write when I'm bike riding and alone. The train of thought goes to interesting places sometimes.

Tonight, I was thinking about school stuff, about those internships, and about field school. And about WHERE I am going to get the majority of my anthro coursework done. I really DO still want to go to UWF in Pensacola, but I tell myself constantly that it's just not possible. I can't uproot my kids and move them to north FL, can I?? Besides, how could I be a full time student in a town where I have no relatives to help with childcare AND manage my kids, day in and day out, with no respite?

Last week was a sort of rough week here. Work was busy and school started again, so I guess it's not unusual that I was tired. But, since the kids go to their dad's house a few nights each week (remember, we do 50/50 custody), I have frequent breaks. I have no excuse for wanting to be alone when they are here. NO EXCUSE.

But I found myself half wishing that I could just have a moment of peace. And my kids really get that. I say, "FOR GOODNESS SAKES. Can you go upstairs if you're going to play so loudly?!" and "Why don't you both go play outside and get some fresh air?" and I have them eat in the kitchen, and I'll sit elsewhere, just so I can eat as I have become accustomed to in their absence; with no drama about tomatoes or fights to break up. I just don't want to deal with it anymore.

So, that's just it. I've become soft, apparently. I'm no longer the heavy duty mom-machine I once was, hardened by day in and day out consistency and sleepless nights (no, no, my sleepless nights are for my own benefit NOW, haha).

I certainly always love them, and I work my ass off keeping them happy, clean, fed, etc, worrying about their futures, bringing glasses of water at bedtime, examining the color of their mucous... But when push comes to shove and I'm threatening to "stop this car right now, because both of you are getting a spanking" I can fall back on the fact that they are going to daddy's house and I won't have to deal with this crap until tomorrow.

And, Harry's such a damn good parent. I've felt jealous of him in this regard before. For example, when Core was teeny. She was just a little thing, a newborn, and I was all nerves. I didn't know how to do anything with a baby, and had to learn everything 'on the job', so to speak. But nothing phased him. Never once did he come to me in a panic saying, "I don't know, does she look... funny to you? Is she breathing normally?" [Seriously, I did that. One night, he was at work and I swore she was dying. I tried to count her breaths and take her pulse, but it was really hard because she was 4 weeks old.]

But, really, he handled it all so well. Conner was born right into Harry's hands. Harry even changed a few diapers and fed a few bottles, although baby-care was generally my arena (since I stayed at home with the kids). Tantrums in the grocery store at 18 months, potty training, nothing phases him. And now that they're older, he's even better at parenting.

You must think I am counting my lucky stars about this (and I frequently do), but right now, I'm sort of wondering WHY he couldn't have been one of those lousy dads. If he was, if I knew it was just me and my babies in the cold hard world it would be a lot easier to be a better mom. There would simply be no other choice.

But knowing that I am not the stronger parent gives me room to slack off a bit. I'm still doing car circle drop offs and pick ups, I still have tiny little socks in my laundry, and I still put juice boxes and cheese sticks ahead of white wine on the grocery shopping list, but all the while, I'm walking in a world of daydreams, like I am one 6 year old's temper tantrum away from running off to study human remains, and to eat my breakfast in peace and quiet.

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