Custody Exchange Day: Sunday Funday vs. Sunday Sadness

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Words are not enough to express the unconditional love that exists between a mother and a daughter.” – Caitlin Houston.

On Sundays…my dreaded custody exchange day. I feel like half my heart leaves that morning.  When you were born, I never imagined being apart from you or having some moments pass while not together.  Moments like losing teeth, an exciting thing at school, a bad dream in the middle of the night, an injury, or even just being sick. As much as I wish it wasn’t this way, I know the life we have now is a million times better because of the changes that had to be made.  A happier, healthier, and loving home.  You get the better version of me, the mom I couldn’t be years ago but the mom I always dreamt of being for you.

On the Sundays you leave…

I miss you the second your little arms leave my waist.  All the ages bring something different, but now at 7 and growing, it’s become harder and harder to be apart from you.  I miss our laughs, our inside jokes, the cuddles, and all the random “I love you’s.”  I miss our spontaneous dance sessions, baking in the kitchen, and your trail of items left throughout the house before bed.  I miss your beautiful little voice sharing all about the things you learned in school or the new friends you make. I even miss repeating myself several times to get your shoes on and clean up some toys.

The house gets quieter. The cats disperse. I tidy up your things, wash your clothes, and fold your blankets to have them ready for your return.  I keep your toothbrush next to the sink, your stuffed animals ready to greet you.  Most of the time, I don’t even know what to do with myself when you are away. Because you truly cannot turn off being a mom.  Becoming your mother was something I always wanted to be, and gaining you as my daughter far surpassed anything I could have dreamt of.

The cats keep your bed warm each night while they miss you chasing them, brushing them, and teasing them with treats.  I walk in and out of your room at various times, just to smile and feel your energy here or to make sure everything is perfect for when you come home.  As much as the nighttime is hard when apart from you, I get so excited to receive a goodnight text from you, counting the moons until you are back and eager to see you in our dreams.  

The good side of the custody exchange: On the Sundays you come home…

It’s like my right arm is returned!  It brings so much joy to my soul.  I swear I can feel my heart smile and beam up.  I hug you so tight, smell your hair and run my fingers through your curls and just admire the grown girl you are.  Not wanting to let go until you say “Mommmm” with a giggle. I spend the first hour tickling, poking, goofing around with you, joking you grew like a weed, or just staring at you like a zoo exhibit in awe of your beauty and joy you bring to the house.

I can’t wait for that first day of catching up, hanging out, cuddling, and just reconnecting.  I look forward to making your first meal or have a family movie night.  I love watching you greet the cats, put away your things, kick off your shoes, hum your favorite song and just…be…home.  Home in your space, in the room that we decorated together.  Home with all your favorite items, toys, blankets, and clothes.  From rainbows and clouds to unicorns, glitter, and smiles.  I look forward to listening to your nighttime stories and rubbing your back as you fall asleep.

As much as it is hard to have you leave, the anticipation of your return is one of the most magical days and feelings.  We both are learning so much from it, for it, and more than anything, I am learning how much being your mother means to me.  For those 7 days, I wear many hats: be it a woman, a partner, a producer, a friend; however, my favorite and most important role is mom.  Thank you for showing me the most unconditional love. See you Sunday, sweet girl.

Do you have shared custody of your child(ren)? How do you handle the emotions around the dreaded custody exchange day?

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