by: Ajike Akande
The Silverman-Akandes have broken up. Sorta. On the weekends. I think we’re onto something. Let me explain…
Remember back in August, I wrote about how Wife and I decided we were big family parents without considering whether or not we would actually have big family kids. You can read that post here. (By the way, I have learned that deciding what kind of parent you are before you are actually a parent, or a parent under specific circumstances, is a waste of time unless you like being totally wrong and caught off guard. You’ve been warned. You are welcome.) At least one person every day tells me that they couldn’t possibly handle raising five kids, or twins, or two sets of twins. Basically my whole life as a parent is something most people have no problem telling me, they couldn’t handle! This does not help me on the really bad days because on bad days I don’t think I can’t handle it either but I do handle it because, well the small humans depend on me to handle my s#*t!
Apparently, I’ve got a parenting situation some (many?) people don’t want. What about the kids though? They don’t even know that their family could be different. They have two moms, a whack of brothers and sisters - one who passed away before they could meet her. Z has a Tummy Mommy, a mommy and a mama and little sisters and a brother who are twins. They are mixed race, and not. They are Jewish with a mommy who is not. Their family is their family. They only know that having a family of five kids is a big deal because they hear what people say when they find out! Wife and I talk about how hard and intense it is to have a larger family, but the kids don’t talk about it. I think we all know, however, that just because they don’t talk about how hard it is, doesn’t mean that they don’t feel it.
Assuming that, like us, our children feel a little overwhelmed when all seven of us are together for the less structured weekend, we decided to do something about it. Without asking the children their opinion (Why would we ask their opinion?) we decided that every weekend the Silverman-Akandes would split up. Many families use the divide and conquer strategy for an afternoon, or a whole day or occasional weekends. We like to take extreme measures. (This nugget of information should not surprise you.) Friends, until further notice, we will break up every weekend, except holiday weekends when we will grit our teeth and lean in to the tantrums! After the children finish their 9am dance class on Saturdays, two or three of them head up north with Wife to my family’s farm and the remaining kids, which always includes Z, the tiny and heavily programmed dancer, stay home with me.
We are about five weeks into The Great Weekend Divide aaaaaand, it’s working. It’s not perfect, but it’s working. The kids are happier and calmer. So are we. I miss Wife and Saturday night take-out in front of Netflix. Neither of us gets a break, because we are always with at least two children. The kids miss each other and the mom that they are not with. But, going up north with mama means a slow, quiet weekend with no chores to be done. Staying in the city with me means a chance to hang out with friends (if I get my butt in gear to make that happen) and definitely some kind of sweet treat while being schlepped between dance studios with the tiny dancer. Splitting up also means that we can switch it up so that the twin sets can bond with someone other than their regular partner in crime. The opportunity for our children to develop stronger connections with each other is the sweetest bonus of the weekend break-up.
As it turns out friends, the Silverman-Akandes are not better - good, but not better, together. Together we are loud love, non-stop giggles, frequent fights, high highs and the lowest of the lows. Together we are shoulders up around our ears and kitchen dance parties. We are extreme – the same way we are all week. These separate weekends, the 30 hours under different roofs, provides everyone with the same good times but just enough calm to stalk up on cuddles and attention to survive another busy school week.
Not surprisingly, every weekend, G-Dog whines to us that “we are a family and we’re supposed to be together.” I love that she feels this way. I also suspect that somewhere she knows that together is not always better.
P.S. I don’t want to beg (at least not in a totally obvious way) but if my peeps showed up at my house on a Saturday night with or without (preferably with) a bottle of wine, I would totally let you in!