I used to dread the day Sierra went back to her fathers. I looked forward to the day I picked her up, and looked upon the weekend like a child looking at Christmas day. Happy that its here. Wanting to cherish every moment of it that you possibly can. But knowing that in just a few hours or days, it will be over. It's always been my flaw I guess. Not being able to truly live in the moment and be happy, because my thoughts always jump to the end. The conclusion. Whats left.
Time changes things though. Each day that passes that she's not here, every weekend that I see her, every time she leaves.. it gets easier. I'm at that point now where I look forward to picking her up, and I look forward to her leaving as well. It's the cycle that is familiar now. If she were here all the time I would be used to her hyperness in the evenings. Her insane appetite for all things "junk food." The way she argues and tries to strike a deal with me about things, as most six year olds do. Years ago it was all normal. All the things she did were just a part of her. I was used to it. But now that she isn't here 24/7, I've found that I am less used to my own daughter. Not in a way that impacts anything of course, and she'll never know the difference...but I do. And its an odd feeling. Almost one of betrayal.
She asks me all the time if I'm sad that she's gone a lot, and I answer her "sometimes." Because thats the truth. When I think of my family, I think of who lives here in my home. And sadly, there is one missing during the week. On weekends however, we are "complete." And thats when I'm truly whole. I know it makes her happy to know that I am sad. Not a malicious kind of happy, but happy that her mother loves her enough to miss her. It gives her the security that she needs. She asks me why it has to be this way, why she has to have two homes. And I tell her that as long as both her father and I are still alive, this is just the way it is. And that maybe in the future when she's older it will change, who knows? I tell her she is special and lucky to have two places to call home and so many people to love her. Still, she's not happy with it. And I don't blame her. I didn't fight for custody for two years for nothing. I fought it for myself and for her, and though I didn't win all the way, either did he. No, its still 50/50 all the way. And for Sierra thats a good, albeit confusing thing. My hope is that when she's older she will understand more. For now, she knows that she has two sets of parents that love her very much and will always be here for her.
Yes, time has changed things. I can enjoy the moments as they come now without looking at the clock and feeling that yucky sensation in the pit of my stomach. I can look forward to the good things that Sunday has to bring. Quiet, less mess, less laundry (though admittedly I have to do my wash during the week) less cups of water and spoiled milk laying around the house, less arguments about using the computer or taking a shower.... and I don't think of the things that I'm missing. It's almost as if she is in suspended animation during the week. I ask her about what went on, and did she have fun at this and that. But she never has much of an answer. For her, her life between her father and I are totally separate parts. When she is here, she thinks nothing of there. And vice versa. Her coping with things is almost the same as mine. She is my daughter after all.
This way of life that we are living isn't perfect, but its comfortable now. I don't feel like I'm falling apart with my heart split in two every waking moment. Any mother who has ever been in a custody battle knows that feeling I'm speaking of. There are no other words to describe it. You feel as though you are dying and there is nothing you can do about it. Two choices, fight or give up. I chose to fight. And though the success wasn't realized until much later, it was still significant. Sometimes when one wants a certain outcome, you set your sights on that and only that. Overlooking the possibility of other outcomes that would be equally as good, or at least better than the worse one. Our shared custody, shared residential agreement is by far not what I had in mind. But as it turns out, it was not what he had in mind either. He wanted all and nothing less. I simply wanted my daughter. In the end I didn't lose her. Not in the way that I thought would be the worst. No, I still have her in my life. And he still has to share. So, I did win after all. Its a good feeling. Especially when time has passed and you realize that as much as you wanted it the other way.... this way is okay too. It works for us. It doesn't mean I love her any less, it just means that we've adapted and changed to fit the circumstances.
I'm glad that we were able to overcome this together. It will be years before she fully realizes how she feels about it, but when she wants to talk I'll always be there. And so will her father.