I’ve been divorced now for over a year, and separated and living apart for longer than that. For the first several months of navigating shared custody with my ex, I had a very hard time on my weekends alone. I missed my daughter the entire time. I had this deep, aching feeling in my heart and I just couldn’t enjoy those weekends.

My biggest fear in getting divorced was missing my daughter. I cried so many tears about that, tears that flowed down my cheeks while crying in bed, in the car and at my desk. It tore me up inside that I’d miss time with her, this little person that I love more than anything on this planet.

After a while, I noticed my kid-free weekends getting a little bit easier. The way our custody schedule works, I’m pretty much the primary parent for 2 weeks, all by myself, and then my ex has her every other weekend. I began to cherish having some alone time. As an introvert, working parent and single mom, it began to feel like I could finally breathe and recharge on my solo weekends.

Recently the sadness of missing her has been creeping back in. When I drop her off at school on the Friday that her dad will be picking her up, my heart and brain pull me in different directions. My heart misses her before I’ve even walked out of her schools door, and my brain is excited to finally have some time alone. It’s this weird dichotomy of feeling relieved to have down time but still missing my girl.

I’ll confess, the moments that I’m really missing her I’ll lay in her bed for a few minutes and even sniff her pillow. I’ll just sit in her room and look around and think about her — what’s she doing? Is she thinking of me? Is she having fun? I’ll even grab her small polka dot blanket and sleep with it in my bed sometimes. I don’t know if this is weird or over the top, but it helps.

As my solo weekend goes by I feel like time is going too slowly and I can’t wait for our reunion on Sunday night. But time also feels like it goes by too fast, because the end of these two days marks the beginning of another two solid weeks of single parenting, with so much responsibility on my shoulders.

I’m trying to learn to be patient with myself, to let myself really feel what I’m feeling. I thought this would be easier by now, and while it is, it also isn’t.