There is nothing as simple, nor more precious....
I am a single parent. I have five wonderful children whose ages range from 14-19 and whom I have shared custody of for a week at a time. This arrangement has been working for the past eight years and as much as it tears me up not to have them for that week, I cherish every moment I do get to spend with them. The week that I do have them, I don’t attend any social functions unless they are really important or they are also invited and I think I have been out by myself on only two occasions in those eight years - once to a work function I organised that wasn’t far away and finished early evening and once on a late night out with a friend that was going overseas. My close friends know how I feel and understand if we want to arrange a get together, we work around my off dates so I can go – no biggie. But I am becoming increasingly irritated by people who don’t seem to understand or accept my decision.
I have had to turn down invitations to many occasions over the years and most people are understanding but now that my children are teenagers, they seem to think that things have changed and that I have now become available. For me, nothing has changed. Yes, my kids are more than able to look after themselves. Yes, I can go out by myself if I wanted to. Yes, my kids encourage me to attend invitations I receive on “their” week. But do I want to? No! I have spent half of the time in the past eight years with my kids. I have literally missed 4 years of their lives. I hate to think of the things I have missed...the hugs, the kisses, the smiles and the tears...looking after them when they were sick, being there when they needed or wanted me, the fights and the laughter. So much I have already missed. And I have also had 4 years to myself, to do what I want, when I want and how I want. Being a mother for a week, and then being single for a week certainly was strange at times.
I was hassled by a work colleague the other day about why I was not attending the work Christmas dinner. I had helped organise the dinner but the date chosen fell on my kid’s week so I will not be attending. This also happened last year. My colleague bailed me up for ten minutes trying to convince me to attend. “They are old enough to be by themselves”, “Can’t the older one’s drive if they need to get somewhere?”, “Surely you can come!”, “It’s only one night!” My attending is not going to make any difference to anyone on the night so I don’t see why it is so important that I go and I don’t see why I have to justify myself to them, or anyone else, about my choice. My kids are everything to me, and they always come first. They are my first priority and they always will be.
Yes, I deserve to have a life and to follow my own pursuits...but I already can, on the week I don’t get to spend with them. Why is that so hard for some people to understand? Why do some people try to argue the fact that I “should” go somewhere? Why do some people believe that I am going to enjoy myself when all I am thinking about is what is happening at home? It is my decision to make....and my decision will always be to spend time with and to be available for....my children. It doesn’t get any simpler....for me.
There is nothing as simple, nor more precious, than your child’s hug.