It's an experience every single parent must go through on a regular basis: the lone weekend. It's one you won't find posted on many parenting blogs; I know because I've looked. While there's a lot of talk about getting real and motherhood embraced, I'm not seeing a great deal of alternatives to the average looking family out there. I want to be clear before I say anything else that I love a good heartfelt post about family. Tell me about your rainy weekends, show your children looking adorable in matching outfits and yes, I do want to know how you juggle it all because I truly don't understand how you do it. You go right ahead but while you're doing that, I'm going to add this narrative here because some of my weekends are killing me and I know it's not just me.
I know because I have several friends whose children or stepchildren spend alternate weekends and holidays going to the 'other' family. We don't always remember to check in with one another. Mostly we just get on with it and ask how the kids are or how that big work thing went. When we do hear the other has the lone weekend ahead of them though, we pause and we really listen to the answer when we ask, "And what are you going to do?"
For a lot of us, the lone weekend is a delicate balance. Being a parent gives you so little time no matter what your family set up, that downtime is a rare and precious commodity. Balancing the need to catch up on chores, life, friends and some sleep is something we all feel. It can be a shock therefore that when the family are gone and your house is empty, a hollow feeling creeps in. You can find yourself starting to resent the pressure of this rare window of opportunity. Worse, you catch yourself pining for your children and lingering in their lifeless rooms. If you're in that room, I'm going to say now, get out before you start to sniff their pillows. Yeah, I know about that one and I get it.
So much of our lives as parents is about our children's experiences. We help them navigate difficult life moments and learn new skills. Our feelings are constantly pushed aside as we try to help our children cope with their emotional reactions to a world that they're only just getting used to. Having our own space to let feelings creep in and be really visible for the first time in a while can be pretty daunting. I read a great post this week by Kelle urging us to voice our feelings as parents so that we can process those emotions a little better. She concluded that it ultimately makes us better parents and I'm inclined to agree.
So here I am, Saturday afternoon and it's been 24 hours since I saw my little girl. I've drunk more coffee than I should which is almost always a downward spiral into anxiety. I meant to knit for hours or go for a run but decided to fix that broken appliance and tidy away laundry instead. I've faffed around on the internet looking for something trivial and suddenly here I am, resenting the way my weekend is turning out and wishing I'd used it better.
You know what the best outcome is here? Embracing the next 24 hours however they happen. Knowing that sometimes bad weekends happen. They can't all be glorious trips to the beach or pub lunches. Life goes at the pace it goes and you've got to roll with that momentum. The now fixed appliance is one less chore and actually, feeling this way reminded me to write it down and let others witness it. I'm guessing there's a fair few parents out there this weekend not quite managing the weekend they want. This is me saying I know and I understand.
Let's try again another weekend shall we?