I get it now. It’s taken a year-and-a-half of knowing Dylan and six months of living with him, but I finally understand.
Dylan is Becky’s son from her first marriage, and she shares joint custody with Dylan’s father. We drop Dylan off at his dad’s on Saturday and we pick him up from after-school care on Tuesday (Dylan, not his dad; pronouns are tricky). Becky and her ex have talked about doing one week on, one week off, but with all the changes in Dylan’s life - his parent’s separation, moving to Miami to split time in different houses, then moving to the Gables to live with this big doofus his mom seems smitten with - it would be cruel to change the one routine he’s gotten used to.
I can’t say my parenting muscles were flabby from lack of use; I had never used them. Baby-sitting is not parenting, and taking your nephews out for dinner and movies is not the same as raising them.
Four days of trying to mold this boy into the best version of himself he can be, dealing with food issues, presenting yourself at your best, working with this moods, keeping him clean and happy, checking his rambunctiousness and attitude, trying to instill values you’ve taken for granted in your own life, and being patient when it’s the last thing in the world you think you’re capable of being, it’s all so exhausting.
“Kids are easy,” a friend of mine said a few months back. “Just give them lots of love, that’s all they need.”
This man obviously has no children.
I said that exact thing when I had no children in my life. It’s true, but it’s like saying, “Building pyramids is easy. You just keep piling rocks up until they're 500 feet tall, then you stick a Pharaoh inside.”
|FYI, he picks his own outfits.|
I used to anticipate Saturday the way you look forward to getting away for a three-day weekend. I needed those breaks to keep from going crazy, to relax the muscles which had gone unused my entire life, muscles which suddenly needed to hold the world up. When Becky got quiet after we dropped Dylan off, I figured it was a mom thing, something I’d never understand.
Now I get it. We don’t drop Dylan off for us; we drop Dylan off because he loves his father and wants to see him.
I still enjoy sharing time alone with Becky, but I miss Dylan when he’s not here. I celebrate those weekends his father has plans he's unable or unwilling to change and we get more time with Dylan. Wishing him goodbye has gone from bittersweet to just bitter.
You’re obligated to do it, but there’s no way to enjoy it.