It’s thursday and I’m about to run out the door for work. Another call this morning, the truck is running late, another extra thirty minutes of free time to myself. Alex has Marlowe. Yesterday was a great day with the little one. I made bread, she helped. We ate a lot of it. And we started a band. Happy Thursday people! Let’s see if I can push myself to another gym day between shifts 😉 My body is saying “no” and my bed is saying “I’m going to miss you, come back to me soon”
I live on two completely different ends of a time spectrum. On some days, well: most days, there is not even a moment to sit, breathe, and think. On others, I find myself with my feet in the air trying to find ways to fill my time. I rarely, very, very rarely am able to just sit and relax. I fidget. I pace. I twiddle. I pick pick pick. I’m never doing enough. With our new co-parenting schedule, Alex has Marlowe two days a week: Monday and Thursday. Thursdays are jam packed. He picks her up, I go to work, I head straight to the gym (one of two gym visits a week), I come home, shower, fix myself a meal, and I’m out the door for my second shift of work, followed by drinks and dancing with friends. As Alex keeps her over nights, and I have a full night to myself and a morning without an early wakeup. With both of us being in the restaurant industry, during the off-season in Florida, there is no work for us on Mondays. This is a new adventure for me. He arrives at my house between 8:30 and 9 AM, spends an hour or so here, we play with Marlowe, discuss potty training, or whatever else needs to be discussed, he dresses her, and we say goodbye. By 10 am, the house is empty, and my responsibilities are small: a full day to spend however I please. I clean the house, I take care of my responsibilities on the internet, errands I need to run, I go to the gym, and then, I do my best to fill my day with the little pleasing activities that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.
The past few weeks, I have found myself with even more time on my hands. The past three wednesdays, I’ve received a text, as I’m walking out the door, that work would be cancelled. I become annoyed, its off season and I need to take advantage of every day available to work. And more annoyed that I’ve prepared lunch, Marlowe has been packed up, and already picked up by my step mother. I call her and she tells me “oh well! Take the day to yourself! What do you want to do?” And I never know. I’ve already spent one, full, entire day, to myself, taking care of every responsibility, loose end, and small pleasure. On one hand, I feel guilt having a second (half day) all to myself, with limited responsibilities, and without my child… I should be with her, shouldn’t I? Yes, I believe so. On the other, my step-mother’s kindness and ease, brings me gratitude and comfort, and I know I should not only appreciate these moments, but take advantage of them while I can, and allow myself to be happy.
In general, I do have more time now: work canceled, or not. Surprisingly enough, being alone again, has brought me more ‘me time’. There are a lot of factors involved. The biggest: single/co-parenting. I have more time and less stress since Alex has moved out… that’s not to say him being here was the worst thing, we just couldn’t find a way to make it work. Making something work for yourself is much easier than with someone else… usually. When he lived here, he was out of the house a very minimum of twelve hours a day and I was still left with, not only: every single home responsibility that Marlowe and myself bring, but also: the responsibilities of a third person. Now, I actually have a day or two to myself. I never did before. Every day off was reserved for family time, which I very much loved, but was still taxing on me, because Marlowe was so incredibly attached to me, and only me. Only recently, since the three of us have spent a few more moments together (sick days, doctor visits, quick exchanges), have I remembered and realized why those moments were so difficult. It was mostly a stage (but even now), an attachment to the parent she spends the most time with, and of course: breast-feeding. Partner or not, it was just me that could tend to certain needs. Marlowe’s schedule was different then, more difficult. We had one hour where the three of us would be awake together, one hour of help, and no time to myself. Now, I want to throw my arms and celebrate: a nine PM bedtime for her, and three to four hours to myself. Sure, I’m exhausted and some nights are lonely, but only about half of them, the rest: I am eating up the moment to breathe after a long day of caring for her, by myself. Most days: I accomplish a lot, like I said, I’m not one to sit still, the more I accomplish: the better. I love my free time and I’m learning to love my extra free time, without guilt, because my days with Marlowe– without free time, are packed to the rim with chores and fun activities for the both of us.
I live my life: looking back, while moving forward. I’m not sure if it were possible to make things easier before, I think it’s just how they were supposed to be. Even if it’s just the two of us, I’m happy Marlowe and I have grown into this working family unit. I’m happy we’re both happy. I’m happy both our needs our met and I’m happy to have this time. I have no idea how the future will be, but I know one thing is for certain: I’m not allowing myself to return to stress I lived in before. No matter what comes my way (good or bad), I’ve got to figure out a way to keep this balance. Time and balance is everything.