Hard Time.

single parenting summer

It’s funny how fast things come around. I guess it’s a function of ageing.

It feels like hardly any time since I wrote this post about how weirdly isolating it is, as a single parent, when your only child goes on holiday with her Dad for two weeks. And how people who haven’t stood in your shoes tell you to make the most of your “time off” … but they don’t understand that it really, really doesn’t feel like time off.

It feels long, and it feels like everything is just a bit off-kilter.

It’s been a whole year since I wrote that post. So today I waved Flea off for two weeks that she’ll spend with her Dad, having a fantastic time, I’m sure.

Probably, I’ll spend two weeks working like a demon, so I can spend the rest of the summer with my partner in crime. I’ll have meetings and write reports, and make plans for all the things we’ll be doing at work during the Autumn.

I’ll make some time for me, too. I’ll swim and I’ll see friends, and I’ll do all the stuff I usually do. But it just won’t be half as much fun without Flea here to distract me, to drag me to the beach, or the park, or to read her latest story, or rub her back while she falls asleep.

I know that one day it’ll be like this because Flea will be older and be mortified by the very notion of my presence, but not now. For now, she’s eight, and I hate, hate, hate missing out on this time with her. Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the suckiest part of divorced parenting. It’s this time of year I think wistfully of being married and never having to hand off my child knowing she’ll wake up for the next 14 days somewhere else. Somewhere not with me.

And maybe it’s just me, but I’ll torture myself daily with all the terrible things that could be happening while I am Not There For My Child. And not just during the day – I used to think waking up screaming from a nightmare was a myth until this time last year. I’m a bit neurotic at the best of times (apparently not everyone still chops grapes for 8 year olds and drills their child in Drop and Roll just in case of unexpected fireball incidents) but separate me from my offspring for any length of time and my conscious and subconscious both lose any sense of perspective and probability.

Clearly, I need a project to prevent myself from embracing Miss Havisham levels of tragic doom. So I have challenged myself to achieve not one, but THREE things, while my daughter is off risking life and limb at Center Parcs *cough*

First, Flea will come home just before her birthday and this year, I’m going to bake a cake. This could be a significant challenge, since every cake Flea has ever had has been pre-ordered from the nice people at M&S or Waitrose. I may need to rope my 12-year-old niece in to prevent culinary carnage.

Second, I’m going to set up the new TV and audio kit we got sent to review – which has been sitting behind the dining table in boxes for, ooh, about two months.

Third, I’m going to re-watch as many episodes of Gilmore Girls as is humanly possible without actually fusing with the furniture. What? Don’t look at me with those disapproving eyes. Gilmore Girls rocks.


24 thoughts on “Hard Time.”

  1. I hope the next two weeks fly by and you manage to cram in lots and lots of work and other stuff to make it all bearable, and the rest of the summer is amazing with your partner in crime. And Gilmore girls is fantastic. I think I’ve forgotten bits of it, hmm…good idea. I need to watch it again too 🙂

  2. Noble goals! I’m sure the cake will be delish! I have nothing to add that will make you feel better. It sucks but she’ll be back then you’ll be off on your American adventure!

  3. Gilmore Girls, TV and cake baking sounds like a plan! My parents separated when I was 16 and I was kicked out of home just three months later to a life of working full time and renting a room in someone’s house. I didn’t have to have holidays with one parent and not the other – I really can’t imagine that at all. I think I would have found it strange but if they had separated earlier it would have just been the norm for me.

    1. Absolutely – Flea has always spent time with her Dad, it’s fairly recent that she’s spent nights there and last year was their first holiday together but they have a great relationship and I’m 100% confident she’ll have a good time. It’s me who can’t cope!

  4. While I certainly don’t relish the thought of you feeling miserable for two weeks, I do always like hearing about other overly attached, neurotic parents because I’m one myself and sometimes, when I tell people that I choose not to have drunken nights out because I don’t want to be away from Sausage, or admit that the only time I ever slept away from her is when I was having her sister, people look at me like I’ve got two heads. So, yeah, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who’d rather be with her kid at all times than without.

    Also, I’m FULLY going off now to dig out my Gilmore Girls boxset…hope the next two weeks goes super quickly for you.

    1. Ha! That’s me. Totally neurotic. In my own defence, I’ve no issue with nights away, 2 nights away, 3 nights away. But two weeks is an awful long time to be away from a young child, and I do find it very difficult.

  5. Love Gilmore Girls. I view it as sort of handbook to life as a single mum – I’m planning my boutique hotel as we speak and don’t get me started about Lorelei’s hair and figure. I’m a work in progress.

  6. I always feel a bit lost without my rabble, and that’s only while I am at work, so two weeks must be a bit strange to say the least. However, I love that you have your three aims – throw yourself into them and two weeks will fly over. Mmmm….birthday cake…. :)x

  7. Two weeks is a long time without our cherished children, but remember to be grateful that your ex still cares enough to take her on holiday. My ex gave up years ago and just recently got remarried without inviting the children ( our daughter only found out about the wedding on Facebook).
    I know I dream of a night away without my lot but also know I am happiest when we are all safe under the same roof!
    I think the only thing to do is to keep really busy and have lots of fun. A Gilmore Girls marathon sounds good 🙂

    1. Absolutely, I count my blessings to have a daughter who is part of a loving family, with lots of people who she enjoys spending time with. And I worked incredibly hard to maintain her relationship with her Dad because I knew, growing up without that relationship in my own life with my first Dad, how lucky Flea is to have a Dad who adores her, and teaches her, and helps her to grow. It’s just bittersweet when you see that relationship you’ve worked so hard to nurture is working – and it means this big gap in your own summer. Sigh. But yes, there’s nothing the Gilmore Girls can’t fix 🙂

  8. I really feel for you in this Sally. I have stood alongside a good friend who goes through the same ordeal every year and hates it. She has never learnt to embrace it 🙁 I think it’s a good idea to find some challenges to throw yourself into whilst Flea’s away – even if it is Gilmore Girls! And rest assured that Flea will be having an absolute blast, I’m sure.

    1. I think there’s no getting away from the fact that there’s no normal situation where you’re away from a small child for so long. And so it’s going to feel a bit odd. I’d like to think I can still have fun and enjoy my life, but I don’t think I’ll ever be that cheery, “Oh, thank goodness for the time off!” sort of Mum.

  9. My ex took my girls away for a 2 week holiday a few years ago, and I couldn’t wait for them to go. I was going to do SO much, and really enjoy the time on my own. But, like you, I found two weeks to be too long without them and after the first few days (when I mostly slept I think) I was just counting down the days to their return. The upside is that my ex found the 2 weeks of 24/7 parenting too difficult and he hasn’t taken them away since. Every cloud and all that.

    I think the bond you have with your child as a single parent is quite intense, which has good and bad aspects, mostly good I think, but it does mean you have to weather the bad times on your own. I think watching repeats of your favourite tv show sounds like a good approach. Good luck.

    1. Thanks Jean – I definitely agree that being a single parent, especially to one child, means we have an unusually close bond, and I do struggle when she’s not here – although the good news is she doesn’t seem to struggle in the slightest, she’s very secure and I’m pleased she’s so confident and happy to spend time with other people who love her. I’m not sure there’s an easy answer, it’s just a case of getting through it, and accepting that it’s a strange and not entirely natural situation we single parents find ourselves in. I often think of divorce as the gift that just keeps giving!

  10. Not gonna lie, I always look forward to the boys going to their dad’s… but within about 24 hours of being at home alone, I feel quite dejected and wander around the place all glum and grumpy. Who am I supposed to annoy now?? Where are my snuggles? Who’s gonna cuddle up in bed with me first thing in the morning when I’d rather sleep?
    By the time they come back 5/6 days later I stick to them like glue!
    At the moment though I’m in countdown mode for them leaving a week on sunday for 6 days… 😉

  11. I have so many friends who are in this situation and it must be very hard, I honestly cannot begin to imagine it. However I do think we have it quite lucky in this country, as in France the vast majority of divorces end up with the child spending one week with one parent and one week with the other, with holidays split down the middle. Some people love it but I have friends who have found this unbearable. Hope you have a great time while she’s away and once she’s back.

    1. Thanks – I agree, I never wanted Flea to feel split down the middle, I think children do better having one home, where they’re settled and secure, and lots of contact with the other parent. But even two weeks apart feels like a long time when they’re your babies!

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