Dogs and Schedules

My phone was hijacked the other day. The culprit – wasn’t too hard to figure out – was Zach. We don’t lock our phones around here (both of us have had previously bad experiences with secrecy, phone locks, and computer passwords. In our experience, if you lock it, there’s something to hide. Some may think it’s a jaded view but you can never be too honest)…. At any rate, maybe we should re-think the whole unlocked policy because this is what I found:

This was my new screen saver. I did laugh. The kids – or specifically Zach and Zandra and maybe a little bit Josh, are desperate for a dog. We had to put Carrot (our cat) down in February after 16 years. It was pretty sad. The kids were sad, but soon started asking about a dog. Actually, as Carrot was getting sick, they were asking if they could get a dog when Carrot died (full of empathy and compassion my children). At any rate, my answer is a devastating no. They are so sad. I have almost caved on a couple of occasions given I know I would love a dog, they would love a dog, it would become part of our family. Rob grew up with a dog, he loves dogs too. So there are many reasons to get one. But, there are many reasons not to get one – and the kids don’t get that. They just want a dog!

Our life is busy enough I try to explain to them. Most importantly, we are not always around. Our schedule is crazy: Zach and Josh are with us every day except they go to their Dad’s on Wednesday night, Friday night and all day Saturday, and every second Tuesday night. They usually come here after school and before school which is nice as I get to see them every single day. May not seem like a big deal, but when divorce is thrust upon you and you potentially lose out on seeing your kids 50% of the time, you appreciate small things like being able to spend an hour or so with them every day even when it is not “your day”.

Rob’s schedule is a bit more crazy (and outright ridiculous – but it wasn’t designed by him. Again, when divorce is thrust upon you, you sometimes just have to take what you can get to avoid even more unnecessary conflict and cost). Gabe, Zandra and Sam are with us from Monday 7:30am to Wednesday 7:30am. Their Mom then comes and picks them up at 7:30 and drives them around the corner to a home day care where they wait to go to the same school where Rob and I drop Zach and Josh off at. Hmmmm…does that sound strange? We get them up out of bed at 7am so they can leave at 7:30, drive around a corner to get dropped off at a sitter’s to wait for school? Why, you might be asking, would we just not keep them and drop them off at school and not have this crazy rush? Beats me. Their Mom’s choice. Interferes with her autonomy or something like that. Anyhow, the kids stay with her until Friday at 7:30 am. They then alternate every second Friday, Saturday and Sunday between homes. It is exhausting for them, but they are troopers and have learend to roll with it, as have we. “Sometimes the only choice we have is our attitude”.

If you follow the calendar and map it all out, you will see that we have a “kid free” Wednesday night every week. That is our date night! Although, sometimes it is our catch up on laundry, work and sleep night, we are usually able to go out for a bite to eat for our date! We also get the treat of having every second Friday night and Saturday completely to ourselves! Throughout the week, we get to have some nights with all 5 kids (consistently that is Monday night which is perfect for our family night, and every second Saturday night and Sunday) and sometimes just 2 kids (every Thursday night and every second Saturday night and Sunday) and sometimes just 3 kids (every second Tuesday night, Friday night, and Saturday).

One day Josh was telling me one of his friends was asking when he was home to play. Josh responded “It’s too confusing to explain it to him Mom”. I felt for him. It is confusing. He followed up with the fact that HE is used to it and gets it but it’s too hard to explain. So his buddy comes to the door every day, sometimes a few times a day and asks for him, never knowing what the answer will be. Maybe I should put a sign on our front door saying who is home….

Now when I tell many about our free time “sans kids” on a consistent basis, I get people looking at me with envy. How they would LOVE to have that free time! Like everything else, grass is always greener. Would you like to not see your kids 1/2 the time? (As I said, I am lucky – but for Rob’s kids – they fall in a black hole when they are gone – except for the fact that we see them at school sometimes). Would you like to give up birthdays and holidays or at the very least – have to split them? Would you like to miss half their summer?

That’s the the scheduling side of things….never mind the nightmare of all the other stuff that can go along with divorce. But, also, the schedule existed even before I lived in my rose coloured world – when I was alone and sad. Coming home to an empty house, or weekends alone really sucked. You have to get through the pain before getting some of the good stuff – and that took a few years!

But we choose to focus on all the perks: alone time, family time, and individual time with each child! Another huge perk however, is that whenever we want to go away, there are built in babysitters:) All we have to do is say we are going, and the kids are taken care of! THAT in itself is great. You always know that your kids are well taken care of, and they don’t mind too much that you are going (although they wish they could come with you!) because they do get to be with their other parent. And I LOVE to travel. I live to travel – so it is a big perk to me and I try to remind myself it makes up for a lot of the crappy stuff! (I won’t mention the down side of when you do want to go away with the kids you have to barter and negotiate, and sometimes the answer is still no).

Which brings me full circle to a dog. If we get a dog – gone are the perks we have with the travel piece! Gone are the spontaneous – “hey we have no kids let’s just go” moments. Gone are the trips – with or without the kids (Don’t feel too badly for us leaving the kids to travel by oursleves, we do plenty of trips with them too, despite the pain of bartering and negotiating, as I LOVE to travel with my kids as well). Gone are the free date nights (got to go home to walk the dog first). So as sad as it makes me, and as sad as it makes my kids. I have to say, for now, “No. We can’t get a dog”. Keeping trying Zach. Maybe one day:)

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