It’s been quite a while now, almost 17 months since he moved out, so I’ve had ample time to get used to having my kids part-time.
Our weekly schedule is fairly complicated, as we switch back and forth almost every day. I have the girls Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. My soon-to-be ex husband cares for them the remaining three days.
Needless to say, my children are very conscious of what day it is, because depending on the day, they are with either mom or dad. My three-and-a-half-year old (please do *not* refer to her as just three or almost four, as she is THREE-AND-A-HALF) is constantly asking what day it is, and when she finds out, tells me exactly what she will do that day, including, of course, where she will sleep.
I have to admit that I do almost the same thing (but not out loud).
My schedule is definitely tighter on my days with the girls. The San Diego Unified School District bus drivers have no love for me, and bring real meaning to the term “the bus is leaving.” They have no problem dropping off my 6-year-old daughter on the deserted sidewalk of a busy street, all by herself. Obviously, it is not a good idea for me to be late……
So my persistent, nagging fear is that I will get the days mixed up and my youngest will not be picked up at preschool and my oldest will be abducted from the before mentioned busy street. It would take just one little mistake. One miscalculation. One major fuckup.
A less frightening, but almost as humiliating scenario (which produces almost the same level of anxiety), is if I were to forget to pick up the girls from their dad’s house, or fail to be at my house when they were due to be dropped off by him. (I’m their mother for God’s sake!)
But for months and months and months my fears have been baseless, and fleeting.
That is until last Saturday morning.
I normally have the girls on Friday nights, but their dad was taking off Saturday morning for a few days, so he offered to keep them Friday night. This left me free to spend the night with my boyfriend. Great. All I had to do was be home by 9:30 AM when he dropped the girls off. Easy. Way easier than meeting that damn bus. And besides, when is the last time I slept past 8:30 AM? It’s been longer than I can remember.
“Are you fucking kidding me??” were the first words out of my mouth on Saturday morning. At guess what time? 9:35 AM! “Holy shit. Are you fucking kidding me??” I repeated to my boyfriend, who was looking at me bleary-eyed and stunned (probably thinking who the hell is this crazy woman? And why is she talking to me?)
I have never gotten dressed so quickly. I sprinted to my car, shaking as I fumbled for my cell phone. “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck” was my mind’s mantra at that particular point in time. Because let’s look at the situation……it’s 9:38 AM, I’m wearing yesterday’s rumpled clothes, my hair’s a crazy mess, and my kids are waiting for me to arrive at my own house. “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck,” my mind continues to chant.
The cell phones rings just as I grab it from the depths of my purse -- it’s my soon-to-be ex husband. My chant changes to: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
A very sarcastic “Thanks,” is the only reply before the call goes dead.
“Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck” resumes and continues all the way home, through every red light, behind every slow car, until I pull up in front of my house, where both girls and their dad are hanging out on the sidewalk.
I pull into the garage and attempt to smooth down my unruly hair. I get out slowly, preparing to face the music, feeling like I’m in high school and I’ve done something that deeply disappoints my dad.
My soon-to-be ex husband, whom I thought would be livid, just gives my a coy smile. My oldest is simply happy to see me. But my youngest? Well she nails me with one innocent question:
“Mommy, did you have a sleepover at Tommy’s house?”
Busted. By a THREE-AND-A-HALF year old with polka-dot shorts and rubber alligator rain boots......