part time parent. full time mom.

what do I mean when I say, a part time parent but a full time mom.

my littles are with me sunday evening through friday at 6:30 pm- unless there is no school on Friday. in which case,  they are home sunday evening through friday at 9:00am, per our agreement. it’s not ideal and would never be my preference but allowing them time their other parent comes with sacrifice. and now we are back in school, too. meaning that not only are they with their dad every single weekend but they are gone over 8 hours a day. our quality time is further divided into homework, dinner, bath time, and bed time.

this schedule and the perceived notion that I must have it easier because they aren’t with me everyday has me feelin’ some sort of way .

I know that there are many spaces to be grateful in our situation. they have loving parents who, mostly, agree on the when/what/where’s of their life. I work a flexible job that closes for holidays and gives me time off or at home when I need it. the littles get to do all sorts of fun things with their dad. and it allows for healthy balance in my life that most single parents are not afforded. we are lucky.

BUT, I want to do fun things with them too. sleep in and make pancakes on saturdays. go to festivals and birthday parties. the sorts of activities that can’t be crammed in to the 4 hours I am home between getting off work and sending them to bed.  I do make the most of my weekends but have guilt for doing activities that they could be joining in on.  I try to stay busy and work a second job because it’s too quiet at home when they are gone. every weekend I avoid the internet because I scroll through all the photographic reminders of  things I am missing out on with them. and I even text them an annoying amount to see what they are up to. they really are my best friends and it’s hard to feel as though I never get to actually relax and enjoy seeing how they function as people for a full day at a time.

from an outsider’s thumbnail view, I’m sure it seems as though I live it up while kid free. or that I choose to do things that don’t involve them. maybe it appears to be a rather carefree set up. maybe this blog post is a response to a recent “well-intended” acquaintance who’s kind words left me feeling more sad that anything. I have worked very hard to not care what other people’s opinions of my parenting are or how things look to those outsiders. and to rid myself of the guilt of it all. because it does grant me a lot of free time. and I am grateful for all the cool things I get to do that would otherwise be very difficult. being a single mama is hard work and I am fortunate to be able to balance it with work and friends and leisure. but that does not mean that I wouldn’t drop everything for the chance to have them 7 days a week.

I guess what I’m getting at with all this is that it’s easy to think you see all of what others are doing or that you can ever be in a place to judge the way they do it. I notice the friends and moms who only like the few photos I post of my littles but pay no mind to the other beautiful and creative ways I choose to express myself, as if they are rewarding me for finally showing up. I see you and it’s alright, trust me. even when I do photograph my kids, I choose to put the photos on a more private platform, or omit their real name, because the things I cherish most I elect to do more privately. we tend to make it harder on others as a reflection of our own feelings so I won’t pretend to know why someone gets to decide if I parent enough to be a good mom. but I will say that the time we spend together is not wasted, I just wish there were more of it. I also wish that the mom community were a safer space for those who don’t fit the “happy family” mold. and I know there are lots of other single parents out there who will understand as we navigate the tricky waters of co-parenting. even yet, there are parents who do it completely alone and have no idea what this free time is that I speak of. we are all just trying to get by (my motto, seemingly) and raise good, kind humans. even if we do it part time.

peace & progress,

Eliot.