This is Novali's 2nd year spending the summer with her dad, Sam. At least I think it's her second, maybe third, after a while it's hard to keep track. She typically goes to stay with him in Indiana as soon as the school year lets out and then I get her for the weekend every 2-3 weeks. She then comes back when school is ready to start up again. Granted it's a short summer, it really flies by. But for a kid, it's an eternity without mom! She was here for the long 4th of July weekend, now it will be almost 3 weeks from then until she will be back home for another weekend. She is starting to get homesick and it breaks my heart when she says she misses me and doesn't want to wait so long to see me. I talk to her just about every day and Skype a few times a week, so that we can at least see each other (the beauty of technology). So when she says she misses me, I have to be strong and reassure her that while I miss her a ton too, it's good for her to be spending this time with her dad, stepmom, and new little brother!
For those that don't know the background, the relationship has always been long distance. When I met Sam we were in college, he was living in Michigan where he grew up and I was and always have been in Chicago. So when she was born it was long drives every other weekend or so. It's all she's ever known. Sam is a great dad and very involved in her life, from day one he has made the effort to see her as often as possible. So it's been a lot of miles in the past 10 years. I am grateful that we have a good relationship, all of the adults involved are very respectful of each other, we work well together, and we put her needs first, always! So we make it work well. A few years ago Sam moved closer, he is in Indiana now, he bought a home with his wife and they have a son, so Novali is excited to have a little brother. Every 2 weeks, on Friday nights we drive to a meeting place half way between Chicago and South Bend, she goes with him for the weekend, and on Sundays we meet up again and she comes home. Now for the summer it's pretty much the reverse. So I tell her it's only fair, during most of the year she does 2, ocassionally 3 weeks, without seeing him, now the summer is his time to spend with her. He has her enrolled in some great summer programs and she is having fun.
Of course, and nothing at all against dads, but nobody can replace mami when you are homesick, not feeling well, nervous, hurt, have a tummy ache... it's when we want our moms. It's a natural instinct.
Do any of you have similar experiences where the other parent lives in another state, and your child goes between homes? Did you have that experience growing up? How do you deal with the transitions, the questions or objections as they get older? I'd love to hear your stories and tips.