Setting Precedents

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Ebb and Flow.

I have on one very recent occasion allowed my older daughter, who’s close to 17, to stay alone overnight while I was away on a business trip. Her dad was aware and she had plenty of backups. I’d also offered to make arrangements for her to stay with a friend or with her dad that night but she’d preferred to stay alone at her own house so she could leave directly for a school competition in the morning. Originally, I’d insisted she not be alone but she fought me on it, gave me valid reasons, and I let her stay.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

That was, of course, the night she locked herself out of the house and I was 400 miles away.

She’s a college student now, but I still worry about her being alone,  especially  when she’s stressed with school- work. I’ve worried, too, over her being alone while she’s in my custody. I didn’t want to set a precedent of her being alone overnight, and especially not of her being alone with her little sister overnight.

I can stop worrying now.

When the girls came back from a weekend with their dad, my  younger daughter mentioned  that her dad had been out of town over the weekend and had left the girls alone. She assumed I knew and had been told I knew. I didn’t, or I would have let the girls spend the night at my house, since my weekend plans consisted  of working on (without completion)  getting the house back in order after the repairmen left.

So far, I’ve cancelled plans to be out of town when- ever it was my weekend with the girls, and I didn’t want to set the precedent of leaving them alone when I wanted to go socialize with friends out of town. I’ve made a conscious effort of putting my kids ahead of my social life, arranging for most of my social life to take place when- ever they’re not  at home. That really hasn’t been hard, considering how so much of my  time has been focused on work projects in the past year, so I’m not complaining. I just hadn’t really considered leaving the girls alone to be an  option when they’re  in my custody,  particularly  the younger daughter and all the temptation  to mess around online or, at the very least, run up my iTunes bill.

But now that my ex has set the precedent  and the younger daughter has been left alone for an extended period…. Okay. Got it.

It’s time to free myself up a bit for more of a social life. No more turning down engagements just because it’s my weekend  with the girls. Being a good mom doesn’t mean giving up a social life of  my own or not having a man walk into my house on occasion when they’re home.