When we went to mediation, nearly 18 months ago - but what seems like a different lifetime away - we discussed and agreed childcare. Ex husband wanted to work towards having the children every other week, for a whole week - a 50/50 split. At the time we discussed that, it was decided by him that this would start was once Small Sprog was settled at senior school. Christmas this year. I never thought it would happen.
At the time it seemed a lifetime away; I had this thought that once the children were settled with me, that they would want to stay, would be familiar with the routine and would not want to change it. Recently, since we have moved and become settled, in our own home at last, I have been trying to build a home that they would enjoy living in, a family home, a home for us...That was then.
Recently the prospect of sharing their care equally has been haunting me, perhaps because Small Sprog has only 2 weeks left at Junior school. I am anticipating an email from Ex H. Emails from him are the only thing that makes my heart fall now, but at least there are no more awful solicitors letters dropping through the door every five minutes any more.
What will I say if he asks to have them? I decided to ask the children what they thought about sharing their time 50/50, after all, they're old enough now to decide. I felt so confident. We were happy in our new home, we had plans, we had a routine, thought we might get a pet.
I asked Tall Girl first, would she ever want to spend a week at daddys and a week at mine? She said she would. I was shocked. Really? I asked her. She didn't even needed time to think about it. It cut me to the core. I asked Small Sprog the same question this week. He jumped at the chance. I cried a lot yesterday, but not in front of them obviously.
What more could I do for them? I asked my Mum in an email. What have I failed to do? Like a spoilt child I wanted to be the best parent, I wanted to have the homeliest home, I wanted my children around me, not only half the time. I work in a school so as to have all the time I can with them. I enjoy their company; I thought I would still be needed for at least a few more years yet. I am not ready to lose them, it seems much too soon.
Then I feel angry inside. He was such a hands off father when we all lived together, he hardly ever wanted to spend time with them and retreated to the garden during most of the summer. He often seemed to regard them as a nuisance. Tall Girl even admitted that she used to be scared of him once.
So what has happened? He seems to be the perfect father now, spends loads of time with them on his weekends and when he doesn't (because he's still in the family home) all their friends are still on the street for them to play with. They have a great time, with or without him, as it should be I guess. For them, that must still feel like their 'real' home.
However whether he wants them 50/50 now or not is irrelevant really. They both want to spend more time there, I have already lost them...
I spent some time here feeling bereft. My heart hurt. It seems so unfair that they don't remember all the things that they have done with me over all their lives. So much time spent together, but they don't seem to remember any of it.
How will I feel being a part time mum? In most ways it is all my own fault, I split the family up, it was selfish and this is my punishment. So every moment I have them now is precious, it always has been, but you don't always appreciate the mundane.
I will leave you with an excerpt from an email from my lovely Mum. No matter what happens, at least I know, while she is on this earth, that she loves me and will always be there...