The Sound and Space of Summer
I am sitting at O’Hare airport waiting for my flight. It has been nearly 3 weeks since Felix went down to Houston to spend some quality time with my mom and his Texas kin. This time has been well spent. Brendan and I have been able to accomplish many things both separately and together. Each of us gets a little “break” and get to indulge a little more in the things that we each enjoy. For me, it’s travel and hosting my friends. For Brendan, that usually means reading more and hitting up Top Golf. Together, we made the time to plan for the upcoming school year, strategize after-school care arrangements, and discuss extracurricular activities for the fall. As much as we miss our little guy, I think both Brendan and I appreciated the time to step back and take some time for ourselves and also plan the next steps for our son.
Of course, we wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help of grandparents. As we have said in previous posts, grandparents (or any other person or persons who make up your village) are essential to your coparenting team. My parents and family have been extremely helpful and gracious in taking Felix in for an extended period of time. My mom never hesitates to spend uniterrupted one-on-one time with any of her grandkids; much less when that grandkid is willing to spend nearly 3 weeks and 1,000 miles away from his parents. Brendan’s folks were equally instrumental in helping us as we transitioned households this summer, as well as to fill in those gaps to care for Felix when he was sick or otherwise didn’t have camp coverage. We have received reports (and photos) from Texas showing that my brother, sister in law, nieces, and many cousins have been sharing good times and making memories with Felix. Our village is strong and we greatly appreciate each and every one of our family members who has taken the time to love our little boy.
As a parent, it is hard to let go of your child; whether it’s for one day or one month. You miss them so very much. In the context of divorced families, this difficulty can be exacerbated by hurt feelings and soured relationships between parents. Even in the coparenting world, separation can be difficult as well but for many different reasons; most of them personal and not having anything to do with conflict. It’s hard, but as Brendan and I have found, the separation is good for all three of us and we all win. Felix gets to spend plenty of quality time with his extended family without mom and dad hovering around the scene. Mom and Dad each get to spend some time enjoying their own interests. Mom and Dad together get the opportunity to discuss and plan for the coming school year without the outside pressure of schedules, homework, and activIties. By the time Felix comes back we will all be refreshed and ready to face the new school year with a plan and mutual purpose. This is the beauty of coparenting.
I encourage you all to take advantage of “summer parenting time” and take some time for self-care, to allow your child a little freedom and engage with their extended village without you; and, most of all, take the time to engage with your coparent to discuss mutual goals and expectations for the coming school year. Taking these tasks in small chunks makes it less overwhelming as the school year progresses.
Wishing you all the best in these last few weeks before school starts again. Hoping you all take this time to pause, reflect, and plan. You’ll be glad you did.