As a parent sharing half-time custody of my daughter, one of the toughest parts of my week is the parent-to-parent hand-off.
No matter how well it goes, saying ‘goodbye’ is never easy. I feel like there’s a gaping hole in my heart for a good two to three hours afterwards. I tend to fill this time with ‘doing’ – buying groceries, going for a run, or getting out with my dog. It’s difficult to see anyone immediately afterwards. I’m just not my usual self after my little girl has left me.
Sometimes, she cries – and oftentimes, she clings. She almost always asks if I can come and do something with her and my ex. (She is very inclusive.) The hand-off on the other end is a pick-up from daycare – so this is easier for everyone. In these moments, it feels like someone has passed back a huge chunk of my heart they’ve been borrowing for a few days. If you’ve ever had a child fling themselves into your arms and hug you so tight around your neck that you almost lose your breath, well – that’s what I get to experience each week. When we’re re-united, I can say with absolute certainty that there is no smile on earth I’d rather see, no one else’s hand I’d rather hold, no one else’s stories I’d rather hear. All feels right with the world again. I take the time to truly appreciate being her mom, and I always marvel at how much she has grown up in a few short days.
In most situations, there are negatives and positives. If saying ‘goodbye’ is the most difficult part of my week, then saying ‘hello’ is by far the most wonderful and fufilling part. And if I close my eyes right now, I can hear those footsteps running down the hall and I can feel those adorable little arms wrapping themselves around me. I can memorize this feeling for a few more days, until it becomes a reality.