Mindful with Irene (11)

There are two sides to co-parenting according to Irene. There are those times when she really agonize coming home to such an empty house and on the flip side she greatly enjoys being able to spend a Sunday morning in bed with a pile of newspapers and some breakfast. Each Friday, Irene writes about how various Mindfulness lessons apply in her daily life.

When I mention in a conversation that I co-parent, there inevitably comes the question: “Aren’t you secretly quite pleased to have that time for yourself?” And this is then followed up with a monologue from the person in question about how nice it must be to have the house to oneself for the whole weekend, to be able to sleep in and do whatever I want. Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to respond to this. Because if you say, “Yeah it’s great, I really enjoy it,” you don’t exactly come across as very child-friendly. And if you say that it isn’t actually all that great, then they look at you with that “Yeah-yeah-you-say-that-but-we-know-you-don’t-mean-it” look in their eyes.

To be honest, there are two sides to co-parenting. There are those times when I really agonize coming home to such an empty house; there are no kids in their rooms and no one to tuck into bed at night. It’s a bit like having a big box of chocolates but with no chocolates inside to relish. On the flip side, however, I do greatly enjoy being able to spend a Sunday morning in bed with a pile of newspapers and some breakfast. And I also love being able to munch my way through a whole bag of liquorice without the kids telling me I can’t, because I’m always telling them that they can’t eat more than ten sweeties themselves. And of course it’s nice to be able to go out for dinner with a friend, or to do a course and attend a workshop on a set evening each week, or to work late one night without having to consult someone at home about it. But the best thing, I think, is probably the fact that I can sometimes watch five episodes of Rita, back to back, on Netflix. Or the entire DVD box set of Girls in one weekend. (For those of you who aren’t that familiar with them: they’re not the kind of series you want to watch with an adolescent sitting next to you on the sofa, unless you’re prepared to retract the life lesson you’ve recently given them about love and sex being connected.)

So going back to that ever-present question of how nice it must be to co-parent. When it does come up in the conversation, I mainly reply by saying: “Well, how would you feel if you didn’t have your kids with you at the weekend or three days a week?” And then, in some, I see a spark in their eyes, because deep down they secretly think it would be wonderful. But they won’t dare admit it to me.