For me undoubtably the worst part of having been through a divorce, is having to share the care of my children. Suddenly you go from caring for your two children with the two of you, to doing it on your own and having to 'hand them over' every few days.
We have all long ago got used to the practicalities of the children having two homes. Yes, it does happen on a fairly regular basis that a pair of school shoes have been left at the wrong house at the wrong time, or that one house has all the trousers and the other doesn't. The kids seem to be settled and know where they will be on what days of the week. They seem to spend equal times with their father and me. They seem happy and I think we're doing a good job with them.
I have long ago got used to looking after them on my own. But as they get older, I am finding it harder to have to share them. From when I was young, there never was a shadow of a doubt in my mind that I was going to be a mum one day. Motherhood was very different from what I had imagined though - I probably saw it through very rose-tinted glasses. They didn't sleep all day (or all night for that matter) and the early years were often very hard work. I was not an 'earth mother', which I had expected to be. But now they're getting older, they're 10 and 7 now, I am enjoying their company more and more. It has taken me a long time, but I finally feel I am being a good mother and I finally really enjoy motherhood properly. It seems so unfair that just as I have reached this stage, I only get to see them for half the time. Don't get me wrong, my first priority after my marriage broke down, has always been that the children shouldn't suffer and have as much contact with their father as possible, and I still feel that. But from a purely selfish point of view, I just wish that there wasn't every year the discussion of who they're going to spend Christmas with, who is going to have them for New Year, where they are for school holidays.
Because of that, having an unexpected day with them is like having a little present. And yesterday was one of those days. J. had to work, so I picked them up early in the morning and we spent the Saturday together. We didn't do anything extraordinary, just the usual Saturday jobs - swimming, shopping on the market, icecream and a cup of tea in the park - but it was just having a bit of extra time with them which I hadn't expected to have, that made it a happy day and a bit special.
And I suppose it is exactly because I do have to share them, that I value my time with them more than anything else.