Friday Nights

For the past 13 years, my older daughter and I have spent Friday nights apart.  Every Tuesday evening and then again on Friday evening, overnight to Saturday evening – that’s her scheduled time to be with her dad.  It’s a schedule that her dad and I have consistently managed, give and take a few special events.  The Friday night schedule is one that has worked.  My daughter knows exactly where she’ll be on any given Friday night.  She knows that if Friday night babysitting plans come up or friend events happen, she needs to clear it with her dad.  She also knows that all day Saturday will be times when she’ll roll along with the activities of her family: dad, step-mom, and three step-siblings.  Whether those times include miniature golf or grocery shopping, it’s all part of being a family – a family that she gets to be an active part of every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday.  Likewise, her dad and I know what we’re doing every Friday night.  He knows that his daughter will be there.  I know that my daughter won’t be here.

With 13 years of practice, I’m quite used to my daughter not being home on Friday nights.  With my second divorce, this weekly schedule was duplicated for my younger daughter and her dad.  Friday night = girls with their dads.

Except last Friday.  Competing events made it best for my daughter to stay with me.  Her dad and family were heading out of town but there were two in-town events that my daughter needed to attend.  I was home, so she was able to stay with me.

As our Friday evening progressed, my daughter and I became increasingly aware of how unusual it was that we were together on a Friday night.  It was great.  An ordinary Friday night became extraordinary just because of our awareness of how special being together was.  I’m not making this up… I have a fantastic 14 year old.  The evening started with us going out to dinner.  We never go out to dinner.  Sure, we get pizza or Chinese regularly, but not OUT TO DINNER.  Special drinks, salad, bread, luscious food: Dinner.  We kept remarking how strange it was, especially since my younger daughter wasn’t with us.

After dinner we did something a bit unusual, we went to a funeral home where I wanted to pay respects to my high-school teacher.  My daughter was up for it, so she joined me.  It seems misplaced, but we had a great time.  We hung on to each other in the awkwardness of standing in line.  I shared my memories with her as we looked at photos from my high-school years.  I introduced her to school mates.  I introduced her to the teacher’s family and talked with them.  Unexpectedly, it became a reunion of sorts for many of my high-school teachers – some of them still teaching at the high-school where my daughter will be attending this year.  I was glad to be a part of this memory experience and I was really glad that my daughter was there to share it.  Indeed it was a unique Friday night.

When saying our good-night prayers and chat, my daughter and I reflected on our unusual Friday night and we both agreed it was good.  I’m often reminded to take time and appreciate the present.  On that Friday evening, it was hard to be anywhere else but right there, in the present, appreciating my daughter’s company.

Relates to Situation #2, Visitation: Setting the Visitation Schedule, The Pro-Child Way: Parenting with an Ex to be released January 2010 Ellen Kellner, all rights reserved

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