For the first ten years of my older sons life we were rarely apart for long; a month at the most. The two days of the week, plus the weekends, that he would spend with his mother seemed like an eternity at times. When he was with us I would just get to feeling like a normal family; normal as in the constant reminding him to "pick up your socks" or " no computer until you have finished your homework" normal. Then I would whisk him away to his moms.
I would drop him off, and drive away reminded that this was not what I considered "normal."
I was used to it, so was he.
This situation had its perks, my wife and I never had to find a babysitter if we wanted to go out; until the little ones were born.
When we moved to Eugene, I knew it was drastic, it would be a change that we all had to adjust to. I knew it would be hardest on him.
For the second year he spent winter break with us. Two weeks of 11 year-old boy. Light-saber fights, stinky socks, wet towels on the floor, one or two days of emotional turmoil.
Me, resenting that he wants to spend more time playing with his neighborhood friends than with his step-mom and two, drastically younger siblings. (he assured me that this was not the case, and I adjusted to his need.) We all had a great time with him, most of all his two younger siblings; who worship him.
His last day came. After I ordered him for the....millionth time...to please get your stuff together and pack; his step-mom found him sitting against his bedroom door sobbing. He did not want to leave.
Later on that day, at a pizza place in Portland, we talked about how temporary his whole situation is. Only six years and he will be able to settle where he wants, visit who he wants. We talked about the difficulty of our situation and who has it harder, him or me?
We both have it hard and the reasons are numerous.