• Hayley Hengst

The Unexpected Gift of Extra Time

I've been a stay-at-home mom for going on 11 years now.

A married, stay-at-home mom.

It was a joint decision my husband and I made...that we wanted me to be able to stay home with our children, while they were young.

That was a joint decision.

What wasn't a joint decision was the decision to get a divorce this year.


Among many things that bred sadness, as well as anxiety, with the demise of my marriage, was the realization that, likely, "stay-at-home mom" was not still in the cards for me.


It's not the idea of having to work that makes me sad. It's just the idea of this special season of life, where I've been home with my babies, involved in every detail of their lives, big and small, for eleven years now, coming to a close.


For now though, for one more year, we have a rather unique custody situation. We each have the kids every other week, except that....even on "Dad's Week"....I have the distinct pleasure and the complete blessing of still having the kids with me during the day. Both my ex, as well as I, wanted for me to be able to continue the stay-at-home mom gig until our youngest began kindergarten.


Once the youngest starts school, it's off to work I go, AND....at that point..we will move into a true every-other-week schedule. Meaning, I will go a whole week at a time not seeing these babies of mine. I actually can't even fathom it, to be honest.


Sometimes, I think "whew. It's still another year. Don't worry or be sad about it, yet. It's still another year away".


Other times I think, "one more year. That's it. One more year, and then life will change so much. My time with them will be so much less"...and sadness grips my heart.


Then in March, came COVID. Quarantine. School cancellation. School uncertainty. Kids home ALL the time. Around the clock. Zero breaks. Zero head space. Zero space, period. Constant noise. Constant mess. Constant questions and needs and wants. Requests and demands.


The other morning, bleary-eyed, probably around 6 am. I was standing at the coffee-pot pouring myself a cup of coffee. The kids were already awake. I wasn't (really). One of them was already asking me for something. I thought to myself, "ok, I need for school to start. I need these guys to GO somewhere, sometimes". Despair settled in, as I quickly remembered "oh yeah. They aren't going back to school. Not for a whole semester, if not longer". It honestly did feel like TRUE DESPAIR for a few minutes. But then...it was as if God spoke out loud to me... "That's right. They aren't going back any time soon. Which means you have....extra, unexpected, time with them. The very thing you've been longing for. MORE TIME"


You may not be in my same shoes. Facing an impending custody arrangement, the idea of which, you completely abhor.


You also got the unexpected gift of extra time, though.


You don't ever know what is around the corner.


I'm not saying it will be something tragic..illness or accident or loss or a divorce with a split custody arrangement.


It could be one of those things, though.


But for now..


You get the unexpected gift of extra time.


Far more likely than some sort of tragedy, it will simply be busy schedules. Work overload. Homework overload. Kids who would rather hang with friends than you. That will come soon enough. For now, though...


You get the unexpected gift of extra time.


The one thing that is completely CERTAIN for ALL of us is...these kids will grow up sooner than we can imagine, and leave. We won't see them near as much as we'd like then. We're gonna miss them like crazy then. Thank GOODNESS that...for now, anyway...


We get the unexpected gift of extra time.








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