I have this friend, Jane, who is happily married to her second husband, a step-father to her daughter, Abbey. As is most common here in the U.S. of A., Abbey lives with Jane for most of the year and spends several weeks during the summer with her father.
Jane’s dilemma? Every year she is responsible for setting up the summer schedule – when Abbey is with her father and when Abbey is home for weekends with her and her husband. And every year, Abbey’s father waits till the last minute to get back to her on details of the schedule. This is very annoying to Jane.
It’s not like my friend is some international businesswoman who needs to nail down dates so that she can plan her career around them. It’s not like Jane even travels a lot during the summer.
It’s just that Jane is detail-oriented and her ex-husband is…not. He is more of a go-with-the-flow type person when it comes to Abbey. Jane knows he loves Abbey, but he tends to let other people deal with the “little things,” and as all you mothers, and maybe even some progressive fathers (wink wink) know, it’s the little things that need to be determined in order to save our sanity.
So, what’s Jane to do? Not much, I told her. It’s really up to Abbey’s father. But I don’t think it’s the summer schedule itself that causes a big problem for her. It’s the fact that Abbey is gone for so long. I know Jane has a hard time letting go of her little one. If I had to do the same it would be heartbreaking. I can’t imagine one of my kids being separated from me for even a week, much less several.
This, I think, is where the whole reinvention thing comes in. For you moms out there, especially if you stay at home, fulfillment involves more than your children or your husband, if you’re married. These are noble pursuits of our time – there’s no disputing that. But like Reba wondered, “Is there life out there?” Yes, I think there is. I encourage women like Jane to try to reinvent themselves a bit so that there are other responsibilities – volunteering, committee work, reaching a life goal – whatever – that take up their thoughts and time in order to keep themselves balanced when most of them dwells on the duties of home life.
Good luck, Jane, with your summer plans. If any of you see her around town, invite her out for lunch or girl time. But remember that we each handle problems in our own way, so she may need a little time when Abbey is gone to get her handle on it before she’s ready to throw caution to the wind and not worry about what Abbey will eat today or which park to go to or who to set up play dates with. I think once she gets past that, she’ll see that this time while her precious daughter is gone is a time for her to focus more on the other roles she plays in her life – including how she is the leading lady of her own story.