I'm still the mom. I know I am because even if I don't live at home with my kids, I do "mom stuff".
I took the day off work and drove 2 hours all so I could sit at a picnic table and eat a cafeteria style picnic lunch with my kids on their last day of camp. I couldn't just take them home, couldn't pack up their luggage and drive off with them, but I could be there, then, for that. I hugged them hello after their 2 week camp experience. I counted their bruises and inspected their injuries with my mom-evaluation, met their counselors and was introduced to their new friends. I heard the stories, laughed in all the right places even when I wanted to cringe, read the journals they offered up for me to read, and shared a meal with my children. And when their father showed up to take them home from camp, I hugged them, smiled, told them I'd see them soon, and I didn't cry. I wanted to cry, but I didn't because I'm the mom.
I picked the kids up from their fathers later on. They were clean, showered and in fresh clothes. I took them to my friends house where I stay on Friday nights that I see my children - and I fed them fried chicken, ice tea, ice cream. I cut their toenails, their fingernails, cleaned their ears. I shampooed my daughters hair because even though she'd done it already, she sometimes needs help with it and after two weeks of camp she REALLY needed some grownup assistance. I did all that because I'm the mom.
I sat in front of the computer with them and let them show me all the things they want to show me: I smiled through music videos that I didn't like, laughed through cartoon clips that weren't funny, let them tease me for MY ridiculous old fashioned and boring taste in music... and I sat for over an hour without twitching or sighing. I did it because I'm the mom.
I took them back to their fathers because right now he gets to tell me when, how long, how often. But that doesn't make me NOT the mom. I'm still the mom because the very next day I got to pick them up again.
I picked them up and took them back to my friends house again where I fed them breakfast: homemade hot chocolate, bagels and cream cheese, juice. I called and got them both appointments at the urgent care/Saturday clinic at their pediatricians office.
Last time they had physicals in early spring, I didn't know about it until it was over and done with, their father didn't share the information with me. I didn't get to approve of or even ask questions about immunizations they received. Shortly after that, my daughter was taken out to have her ears peirced without my knowledge - a very momndaughter activity that I wasn't even given any notice of. Then three weeks ago when I took her to buy her first real earrings after the initial ones were ready to be changed, I found that both peircings were infected - bloody, leaking pus, hot, swollen, sore. I had the earrings removed, bought swabs and alcohol and taught her to clean them. When I took her home to her father I told him what was happening, gave him the crusted over earrings we'd removed from her ears, gave him the supplies I'd bought, told him he should have her checked by the doctor. Instead he bought her new earrings.
When I saw my kids in the evening for dinner I saw that the peircings were still bloody, leaking, and sore. I saw that a skin condition my daughter has was no longer just an uncomfortable annoyance but was out of control and needing attention. My son had an unidentifiable rash also, which I'd noticed before camp had ever started but was still untreated. So I acted like a mom. I called the doctor and took them in.
I paid the copays. I explained, showed, listened, asked questions, and approved of treatments. Oral antibiotics for the peiring infections, topical medication for the skin condition and a referral to a dermatologist for my daughter, a physician-led lesson in hygiene for my son that he might follow since it isn't a 'mom-thing'. I paid for the prescriptions. I doled out the first dose and applied the first topical layer. I instructed them both in self care. I took them to my house then, finally, where they collapsed in gratitude in front of all the electronic equipment they've missed for the past two weeks of backwoods camping.
It's my only day off - I always take the day off when I have them with me - but I spent my time calling doctors, dragging kids in, paying for medications, and then applying it to reluctant teen/pre-teen bodies.
I miss them so much - I miss out on so much - and hate that I have to argue, order, demand, insist, and give 'the look' on our precious and limited time together but, see, the thing is, I am the mom: and that's what mom's do. So that's what I did.
Now I get to relax a little, and so do they. They are fed, medicated, playing and relaxing, feeling good - and so am I. All too soon I will have to herd them into the car for the hour long drive back to their fathers house. None of us look forward to that but for now, for this moment, all that matters is they are here with me, their mom.