I am the primary caregiver for my two young children, and they are with me 12 days out of 14. I am, by and large, completely happy with this arrangement, and miss them very much when they are gone even for just their ''every other weekend'' with their father.
But I also get tired - and occasionally not just a little resentful - when it feels likes its only ever just me with a kid hanging off me 24/7 (it's not but it feels like it sometimes) or when it is me, again, dealing with an upset tummy, a cough, a friend drama, tricky homework, another taxi trip or any other of the myriad of day to day normalcy's of parenting. My daughter can be very possessive and is currently struggling with the concept that Mum might want to have a life outside of caring for her (yep the world does actually revolve around her...).
And so when I arrange - or as is more usual, fall upon by accident - that both children will be off at a play date or sleepover or school event at the same time, I invariably feel guilty. It's as if as a single parent I have to be doing a better job than if I were not, and that includes spending every available minute with, or for, the children. I am all for independence and they have a full life with a lot of socialising and fun stuff that doesn't include me, but there is always this thin line of underlying guilt that I find myself watching for.
Perhaps the upside, if there is one, of parenting from two houses is that there is that opportunity for 48 child free hours. Its time to regroup and not have to be thinking about someone who is dependent on me, for a whole weekend. Its a chance to do what I want to do with the people I want to do that with. But to be completely honest, sometimes it's not enough. And, what I have come to realise, is that actually I am a better person for having some time to myself - other than those two days at the end of every fortnight. The children don't understand that my work day doesn't really count as time out. But fortunately for me, FDH has also come to realise this and is starting to support me in my endeavours to take more time for myself.
So I have started taking one evening a week for myself. The babysitter is booked and off I go. The children protest, oh yes they do, but I am doing my utmost to press on with this. And I do believe I am better of for it. So when the opportunity arises to do this more often, I think I'm going to take it.