Surviving the First Weekend Without Kids: What I Learned

A lifetime ago, or at least what feels like one, I was one of those women.

Happily married, more busy than I liked, looked at separated/divorced friends and thought they had life all figured out.

Child gone every other weekend? Oh the things I could accomplish with that gift of time. I mused.

A minimum of 48 hours me-time every week or so? What’s not to love? I’d remark to other married friends.

Flash forward a few painful years and I get it.

There’s a world of difference between a fun weekend furlough from motherhood and forcibly handing your progeny over to an ex because it’s mandated in a decree.

The latter? It’s interminable feeling and not so much a gift as a sentence.

Here’s how I survived my first time.

I rediscovered connection.

People always ask me how I behave when I feel stressed. Do you eat more or less? they enquire. Do you exercise more or less? they want to know. Still others, those who don’t know me well, wonder: Do you drink in excess or are you cautious/entirely abstain?

My response has always been: I remain the same. Stress might spark me to turn to fiction more than usual as escape, but the rest remains status-quo.

The past few months, however, I’ve been on auto-pilot. In an effort to keep going I’ve rushed past my feelings and focused solely on the mindset required to keep moving forward.

This weekend forced me out of that routine. Silence reigned supreme. I was compelled to slow down, grow still and reconnect with myself. All parts. Even the ones I’d deftly avoided using the excuse of needing to ‘focus on how the Child was feeling.’

connection with others. easier than with ourselves.

I played.

The Child and I play together. A lot. In a sense it’s become easy to associate PlayfulCarla with MotherhoodCarla. This past weekend I was reminded the two can merge, but the former is not dependent on the latter.

I skated in my condo. I frolicked with friends. Thanks to serendipity my first child-free weekend was also a Tabata teacher training weekend I’d signed up for a lifetime ago. The training was fantastically playful in precisely the way I never knew I always needed.

Neither day was entirely a Daycation (I experienced many moments where I felt like the lost third leg of a stool/wondered what my other 2 pieces were doing without me) yet both were definitely more playful than not.

sneaker roller skates

Tootie Ramsey of Condo World.

I told my brain a new story.

Surface story:

I chose the condo. I did not want a yard/home maintenance. I adore how where we reside is ‘Melrose Place Without the Sex’ (my new-neighbors do not enjoy that phrase/the single moms among them insist I add For Now! which cracks me up).

Deeper story:

I’m jealous of where the HusbandWithWhomINoLongerLive resides. It’s urban’y. It’s walking distance to a fave grocery, coffee shop and yoga studios. It’s ambling length to the Child’s fave shopping emporiums.

These two tales have been at war in my brain since we planned our split. I’ve embraced the second life I’ve started, I deeply miss the Husband, I covet what I perceive to be his second life.

This weekend I yanked the plug on my old story. I forced a hard-reboot and consciously chose to create a new narrative.

And just like that the weekend was over.

The Child returned, Sunday night routines ensued, and all resumed ‘new normal‘ until the next time she leaves.

A scant 11 nights from now.

But who’s counting?