For the last 10 years, I’ve been a part-time parent. After five years of marriage, we couldn’t keep up the facade that we actually liked each other. Okay, fine. We hated each other and it showed. Few people get divorced because their soon-to-be ex-spouse is a compassionate and reasonable person, so the battle was, as expected, grueling. But being a part-time parent? I’m not gonna lie – that part was fantastic.
Because the boys’ dad was legally required to participate in this whole parenting gig, he didn’t have the freedom to bail.
I had a schedule. I knew exactly when I needed to wear my “mom hat” and when I didn’t. I’ve listened to single-mom friends lament about their co-parent flaking entirely or showing up late – even having to cancel trips at the last minute when the kids’ dad failed to show. That wasn’t something I had to deal with because I was the one who could have bailed. I didn’t, but could have and there was nothing that my ex could have done to force me into the boys’ lives. I got to be a mom because I wanted to.
Best of all though, was that when I wasn’t playing the role of mom, I was free. Free to spend time with friends. Free to date and try (and fail) to find a partner in crime now that I actually knew what I was looking for – and what I wasn’t. Free to veg out in front of a Netflix marathon. Not a care in the world except what to watch next and what I was hungry for.
I didn’t worry about pooping privacy or the countless choruses of “Mom I’m bored.” I didn’t have to worry about getting homework done. I got to be the fun parent. Part-time dads do this shit all the time, and no one thinks anything of it. It’s a double standard where the same activities earn me the judgmental side-eye all because I have boobs and a uterus.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to those days. I love time with my boys, but knowing I had a break on the horizon made me a better mom.
I never allowed myself to feel guilty for my freedom or for how much I enjoyed it. That was the consolation prize for picking poorly in the husband department, I suppose. Friends would often remark that they were sometimes jealous of my freedom. Never publicly, but behind closed doors or in hushed conversations, as though it is a crime to actually want time away from your offspring. When did becoming a mom mean that we had to absolutely love being needed 24/7 for 18+ years?
To be fair, it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies. I missed milestones along the way. I didn’t get to experience the trauma of kindergarten, middle school or high school registration. I didn’t have the experience of countless birthday parties and play dates. No one will say that they enjoy splitting birthdays and holidays, but that was the trade-off for so many days of freedom.
Then, overnight, I became a single mom to a teenage boy raised by someone else, and I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. Gone are the nights of quiet and relaxation, and in their place are chaos and geometry. It’s the best thing for him (and probably for me), but damn, I’m gonna miss being the fun mom.
Shelley is a freelance writer, blogger, coffee-addict and mom. When she’s not performing her duties as taxi driver and swim-mom cheerleader, she fills her evenings with kitchen experiments, Netflix binging and crochet projects. You can usually find her on Facebook Pinterest, or over at her personal blog where she over-shares about relationships, raising gentlemen, and trying to find herself in the process.