Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Ebb and Flow.
I have on one very recent occasion allowed my older daughter, whoâ€™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. Iâ€™d also offered to make arrangements for her to stay with a friend or with her dad that night but sheâ€™d preferred to stay alone at her own house so she could leave directly for a school competition in the morning. Originally, Iâ€™d insisted she not be alone but she fought me on it, gave me valid reasons, and I let her stay.
That was, of course, the night she locked herself out of the house and I was 400 miles away.
Sheâ€™s a college student now, but I still worry about her being alone, Â especially Â when sheâ€™s stressed with school- work. Iâ€™ve worried, too, over her being alone while sheâ€™s in my custody. I didnâ€™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 Â younger daughter mentioned Â 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 didnâ€™t, or I would have let the girls spend the night at my house, since my weekend plans consisted Â of working on (without completion) Â getting the house back in order after the repairmen left.
So far, Iâ€™ve cancelled plans to be out of town when- ever it was my weekend with the girls, and I didnâ€™t want to set the precedent of leaving them alone when I wanted to go socialize with friends out of town. Iâ€™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 theyâ€™re not Â at home. That really hasnâ€™t been hard, considering how so much of my Â time has been focused on work projects in the past year, so Iâ€™m not complaining. I just hadnâ€™t really considered leaving the girls alone to be an Â option when theyâ€™re Â in my custody, Â particularly Â the younger daughter and all the temptation Â to mess around online or, at the very least, run up my iTunes bill.
But now that my ex has set the precedent Â and the younger daughter has been left alone for an extended period…. Okay. Got it.
Itâ€™s time to free myself up a bit for more of a social life. No more turning down engagements just because itâ€™s my weekend Â with the girls. Being a good mom doesnâ€™t mean giving up a social life of Â my own or not having a man walk into my house on occasion when theyâ€™re home.