time is what you make of it
When you become one half of a shared custody arrangement…it’s very easy to feel like you’re not the parent you used to be. Your time has been cut and in a way, you feel like you have too.
I had the Joy and responsibility of being a stay at home Mom to all my kiddos. I left a career to spend my days in that honourable, unpaid vocation of child-rearing. I taught them how to use their manners and their forks. I showed them what it meant to be kind and what it meant to pick up after themselves. I had tea parties and toy car races and heart to heart talks. Even after they all went off to school…I was the Mom who worked part-time so they could come home to a parent's presence.
Separation changed everything, including my role in their lives. I became the Mom who worked at whatever I had to and did what it took to make all the gnarly ends meet. I became the Mom who phoned and texted them during their "week away" instead of hugging and tucking them in. When I no longer had the luxury of all that time with them, I found myself in a quandary. How can I be a part of their lives when they’re not with me? How do I parent just as much, in half the time?
Initially, I did what I always do when life throws a challenge…I pushed myself harder. If I have half the time, I’ll just be twice the Mom. Twice as fun, twice as loving. My meals will be twice as good, outings twice as memorable. I will teach and guide with twice the intention. Everything will be twice, because time is cut in half. Somehow, I reasoned, that would ensure my presence could be felt during the time I no longer had.
I bet you can guess the outcome of that. The only thing that doubled was stress. I was twice as tired and twice as broken. It was twice as disappointing when I didn’t live up to my heightened expectations. I was half of an arrangement, trying to do twice as much. The math didn’t work. Time, or the lack of it…became a tremendous source of pressure.
Somewhere along the way I grew weary, and I decided to let go. At first just a little. Then a little more. I still have work to do on this…but I’ve learned to put more trust in my influence. I think it’s the same for a parent whose child is leaving the nest. You trust they will remember their values and make good choices as they’ve been taught. It's less about time, and more about what you put into the time you have.
This summer they went away with their Dad for a few weeks and to my heart’s great delight, they brought me some gifts…which is akin to saying; “we think of you when you’re not here”. A beautiful stone from one, a cup and the promise of my favourite coffee from another, and a bracelet from the third. 😊 (Ok, Mom…you must be doing something right.)
The bracelet says; “Time is what you make of it.”, and that is such a great message. We don’t get to decide how much time we have with our loved ones; it can be extended or cut short in any number of ways. The only control we have over time is what we make of it. Don’t make it an enemy or a mathematical formula. Make it fun. Make it memorable. Make it productive or peaceful. Make it last even after it's gone.
Time is what YOU make of it. Make it yours.