Divorced parenting with benefits

Before I say anything,
A disclaimer:
Of course
I would always prefer to have my son
With me,
Playing with toy cars on the
Rainbow-striped pile rug
In his bedroom.
I have to say,
My husband and I have had a couple of
Very nice kid-free weekends this summer.
Between two co-parenting schedules
For three adolescent kids,
We get five to seven kid-free weekends
Per year,
Mostly in the summer when my boy
Is with his dad.
On the Friday of a kid-free weekend
We look at each other across the
Weirdly tidy living room and say,
“What should we do?”
We can’t think of
It’s my fault.
Joe comes up with ideas–a movie, a late concert–
And nothing feels momentous enough for me.
(Or else I’m too tired.)
The other night,
I was so determined to think of something
Amazingly adventurous and fun,
And I was so completely unable to do so,
That I spun suddenly into the
Sadness death spiral
Where I miss my son so much
That I want to crash to the rug
And lie there unmoving,
Not even crying,
Just blinking and staring at the dust heaps
Under the couch.
(I did rally that night,
And we played cribbage and listened to music,
The death spiral averted.)
The best kid-free weekends are ones that are either
Planned far in advance:
Tickets bought and
Time booked (concerts, camping),
Or the spontaneously inspired ones:
Yoga classes together,
Playing cribbage and listening to music,
Even grocery shopping,
Just the two of us,
Feels like a date.
But the best parts
Are the moments when,
Undistracted by other people’s needs,
I’m fully attentive to my husband
As he’s talking.
And I realize
I haven’t seen him clearly
For weeks or even months;
Seen who he is,
Not what I need him to do next.
Is being away from
Our children
Worth those rarefied moments?
I don’t know.
It’s our life
And I’ll take it.


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