“It feels like a weekend relationship,” he says, sadly.
How do I respond to that?
In a way, it’s true. We spend every weekend together, we spend his breaks and vacations together, and generally, he accommodates a good deal because he gets those paid breaks, whereas I do not.
I am working. I am nearly always working – when I have work. This is the economic reality for me, and countless others like me.
We’re talking on the phone. But the theme isn’t new – my availability, my schedule, my mind elsewhere when he needs my mind focused on him, or us. And I can’t say I blame him.
The Weekend Relationship Works Well for the Single Mom
First, it was about my kids. As a single mother, a solo mother really, I held down the fort and was still doing so when we met. I had some flexibility certainly, since I was at the point of half a nest remaining – one son already launched. Besides, my younger was a teenager by then, so I wasn’t as logistically tied down as in the years before.
The weekend relationship, I imagine, works well for many single parents. Those who have an arrangement of weekends to themselves may have a better shot at this sort of thing; even the weekend dating ritual is tough when you’re parenting solo full-time.
And since my younger son headed off to college?
My work is a roller coaster, subject to client whim, to feast or famine, to my need for the income from those clients, and “whatever it takes” to get the job done. Sometimes, that means weekends. Often, it means long hours. So even the “weekend relationship” is compromised, which leaves me conflicted and wondering where a resolution may lie.
Our Crazy Working Lives
These past 20 days?
I’ve exercised my “no” – no to seeing each other during the week, when it’s occasionally possible; no to spending the weekends together, although we may well work part of them side by side on our laptops; no to the long conversations we generally have on the phone.
“It doesn’t feel like enough,” he says. And I know what he means.
I think back to when I had two kids in my care full-time, was juggling multiple jobs (as a contractor and freelancer), and dating after divorce was either sporadic or non-existent. My most successful relationships during those years were long distance. And that’s precisely because it was as much as I could manage – Skype calls, phone calls, once every two month visits.
That’s not a relationship, you say?
The Long Distance Relationship: Emotions, Physical Connection
I disagree. You can have an incredibly rich emotional relationship, though it’s hard managing without physical intimacy more frequently and that, naturally, impacts the emotional connection.
Still – those advantages?
When we’re together – my guy and me – it’s great. Really great. And when we’re not, when I’m working I have the quiet I need, and the freedom to put in a 16-hour day if I wish, to eat or not eat if I so desire, to be responsible for me and only me – that being an extraordinary relief after a decade of being at the bottom of my own list, every day.
Yet I’m left to ponder where I am and where he is; I can barely make time for the “weekend relationship” at present, with a workload on a project that has had me going night and day in multiple time zones, and still not quite done.
Wind Me Up… Or Let Me Sleep?
I am worn out to a large degree, and yet energized by a good work project; I am slowed by the weeks of lack of sleep, and with the finish line in sight, fueled by adrenaline. I’m in serious need of winding up (in more ways than one), and in fact, Mr. Coffee winds me up throughout the day and evening. Otherwise, all I think of is dozing and unwinding – once I have achieved my goal – the satisfaction of an impeccable result and more importantly, a happy client.
And as much as I would love to see the man in my life, I don’t have two hours to linger over cooking dinner together and then enjoying it, another two hours for a much needed bit of “dessert,” or the guilt I feel when he wants to talk and I need quiet to concentrate and work.
I ask myself if I have left those “single mother days” behind me after all. Much of the time, the answer is no.
I can trace my current situation back to my divorce, and yes, the economy has played a role but the most significant factor was – and remains – the set of circumstances unleashed at the termination of my marriage.
From that, the disruption and career setbacks that resulted are undeniable.
The “Good” Weekend Relationship?
On the bright side, and of course there is one, a good relationship is a good relationship. Whether you can spend as much time as you wish with the person you love, to find someone with whom you can share your life is a gift.
So I count my blessings when it comes to being loved by a genuinely good man. I count my blessings in my incredibly good hearted and hard-working kids. I count my blessings to have friends who are there for me. I count my blessings in retaining stamina despite long years of carrying a stressful load (and recent long nights of work). Yet I ask myself how many more months and years of living like this will be tolerable – driven by the need to make a few bucks to keep going.
I think of the advantages of the weekend relationship – and there are many, certainly for me. Yet I recognize that while I can love and feel attached to someone who is not physically with me all the time, this isn’t necessarily the case for the other person. And thus, my quandary.
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