Four hours… that’s it. One weekday visit of four hours. The time flies by, so many things race through my tired mind as I pull up to the school to see my children. My heart is pounding again with the anticipation of their little arms around my neck hugging tightly as we embrace.
I have spent this week in a convention for work in Southern, California. After a week of meetings I anxiously jumped in the car Wednesday afternoon with the sole purpose of being home on time to see my little ones. I allowed myself plenty of time to get home and experience any delays. My life is planned around this four hour window of weekly time, especially during the weeks when I don’t see them on the weekend. Two traffic jams and 14 hours later I arrived home with little time to sleep. The adrenaline at the excitement of seeing my children was sufficient to propel me through the shortened workday Thursday. Anxiously and exhausted I left my office and found myself standing under the familiar tree at the schoolyard where I wait for my children each week.
Off in the schoolyard I see the blonde heads of two children as they weave in and out of the other children as they race to me. They race into my arms and as we hug, I fight the tears again of gratitude and joy of seeing them. Our little time is precious. As my kids have gotten older, the Thursday visits aren’t like they used to be. The activities that keep my kids grounded with normalcy in their lives often make their way into our short weekly visit. These make for our time together all the more fleeting, yet deep down inside as I fight the pain of our shortened time together, I realize with great love that I have for them that this is what they need. The dance, football, basketball and soccer provide my children with the opportunity to live and enjoy life, free from the sorrow that has been brought upon us by another persons choices.
Quickly, we head for home. The car ride is full of conversation as the kids talk over one another in the excitement to tell me about their week. I catch up on school and how the assignments are coming. We talk about the tests they have that week as we make certain they are prepared. The spelling lists, vocabulary lists, the math, all discussed on our 20 minute drive home. Their mother prevents us from talking on the phone during the weeks. Our only conversation occurs during these short visits or on the semi monthly trips I make to eat school lunch with them, just to see them again.
We get home where we can play with the dog and get something to eat. I sign their homework assignments for the day as we finish them, and then we are off to drop my son at football practice. Oh how he loves football, he works so hard at it, It has been good for him. I remember the first day when he told me he had landed the starting Quarterback position. How his eyes lit up!! He was so proud of his accomplishment and I was so proud of the young man and leader he was becoming. I pray daily for them to continue to press forward with their goals in life, so they can overcome the obstacles we are presented with.
On the way to football they call their mom to let them know that my son stopped at home to get the football gear. I hear her ask them how their day was. I find myself fighting down the pain, anger and frustration at the irony of her preventing our phone calls. How I desire to be given the same. I replace the hurt as I focus on the deep love for my children, the desire of mine to keep them free from the heartache at my home from this situation. I focus on my desire to love them and not allow them to be hurt when in my presence and painfully I swallow the bitter pill, consuming it internally so that my children can be free of the poison, if only for a short time while they are with me.
Two of the four hours, my son is at football. Sometimes we watch his practice, however today was some quality daddy daughter time. I ask my 8 year old daughter where she would like to go… She wants to look at Halloween costumes so we spend the next couple hours looking at costumes while we walk hand in hand with her skipping along, she talks incessantly. We talk more about her cheer classes, we talk about school, her friends. She asks about her step mom and sisters, who are out of town at a different convention. She asks me about my trip and how it was. She squeezes my hand and says I love you dad! My heart melts, the tears form, as I fight the emotion from overwhelming me.
The two hours with my daughter fly by.. she sings roar and the fox song to me on the way to the football fields. I smile and sing along with her. We get my son and head home for him to change, we grab a pizza on the way. They play with the dog, eat pizza and we laugh about silly things.
It’s again time for them to go home. I dread this time. It is always painful for me and wish how it didn’t have to be this way. The drive to their moms is never long enough. Never enough time. We talk. They inform me that they are moving again, this will be the 10th move in 7 years at their moms. My heart breaks for them again with the constant change. I wonder why they can’t stay with me permanently in the home they know and love. We don’t move. We stay in one place. I wonder why her and this husband can’t stay in one place. I wonder why my kids must suffer for the choices of their mother. I wonder why the courts believe that the mom is always the best place for the kids.
We arrive.. I keep the tears in check as I tell them how much I love them. I promise to see them at the football game on Saturday. We hug, We Kiss and then it’s another goodbye… they are gone for another 7 days, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes, 604,800 seconds until I can talk to them again. As my dear children walk away, the tears are now flowing freely, my heart is breaking again, my sorrow is full. On my drive home, I rebuild the walls to keep the emotion at bay as I begin looking forward to the next week. It will be better, we have the weekend.