Dear Single Mom,
People talk about the "let down" after the holidays. December 27th is depressing because after months of planning in a whirlwind of wrapping paper and gift cards you are left with a tree and no gifts, stockings with no treats and visiting relatives that aren't set to leave until after the new year. It's a hard time for everyone... but as a single/divorced/separated mom you experience this every week.
Once a week you have to let go of your little ones and drop them off with their other parenting unit. For me it is Tuesday nights, I pick them up from the babysitter after work at 3:30. I take them to a yogurt shop, a pet store or any variety of places to kill 30-45 minutes. Then the drive to their dad's house. A bit of small talk, exchanging of clothes, coats, shoes and information about what monies are due in the next few weeks and I'm back in my car. My youngest who is three usually cries the whole time, running to the side of the road for one last blown kiss and a tearful wave goodbye.
I pull away with a heavy heart and the car is quiet. I don't realize how much of my energy is spent as "mom" until the little ones are gone for a few days. Suddenly I'm not policing them from the front seat as they start to argue in the back. I am not constantly looking in the rear view mirror to see if they are okay. I'm just me once again, a quick glance back at the empty car seats and I sigh heavily. It's a letdown, all of the energy of getting them packed up, out of the house, into the car and then off again, zipping around to keep my mind and theirs off of the fact that they are leaving me for 2-5 days.
There is a sadness that always threatens to take over.Don't get me wrong, the "me" time is great. I can sleep without having a little girl crawl into bed with me, I can go to bed BEFORE 8:30pm if I want to or even manage to go an entire night without saying, "Stop touching that!". But there is still a quiet sadness on that drive home, at time's it's heart wrenching and brings tears to my eyes. However, there is nothing that can be done, I've got to be strong, because if not, I'm possibly losing the one thing that'll be there when they are all grown up.
What can be done to help you with this? Don't give in to the sadness, don't go home and sulk or walk around aimlessly. Order some photos from Walgreen's and pick them up on the day you drop off the kids. Have a coffee at Starbucks, just you. Enjoy wandering through Sunflower Market and looking at the new herbal face washes. Go to the library and sit with a magazine that you don't subscribe to, read it. Whatever it is... take time for YOU! It will go a long way to helping you feel revived and remembering who "you" are again.