07/23/2013 11:47 am ET Updated Sep 22, 2013

In Praise of Separate Vacations

It has been 21 days since I've seen my children.

When we were mediating our divorce settlement, my ex-husband and I were very concerned with keeping our families connected to our children. We wrote into our settlement that we were each allowed to take the kids for extended summer vacations to see family in different parts of the country, because we wanted our kids to really know their extended families. Family, and time with family, is important.

The practical application of that is that for three-ish weeks every summer, my kids are with their dad, 600+ miles away. (And for another few weeks, they're with me with my family, away from their dad). They're hanging out with cousins and second cousins and grandparents and friends, swimming in the ocean and eating ice cream at the ice cream store their dad remembers from every summer vacation of his life. They are having so much fun that they don't even have time to talk to me when I call: "Hi, Mom! I love you! I'm going down to the beach with the kids now! Bye!"

I miss them so much it steals my breath. But I'm glad they're there.

I thought, in those last few years of an unhappy marriage, that I was sacrificing toward some higher purpose. That sticking in a situation that was making me sick, that made it almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning, was somehow good for my kids. It wasn't. They were living in a void, with just a shell of a family, with shells of parents.

That long, slow, bruising sacrifice wasn't worth it. But this short, sharp, three-week disorientation sacrifice definitely is. My boys have that time with their dad that they'll never forget in those places they'll never forget. They get to immerse themselves in that half of their family. And they don't have to feel conflicted or like they're somehow betraying me, because I'm genuinely happy that they're there.

But I'll be happier when they're home.

A few more days.

Magda runs and writes and reads and writes about writing and reading and running, although she's been doing less running and more writing in this heat wave. She thinks you're the best parent for your child, and writes about that at Read the blog she writes with her ex-husband about co-parenting after divorce at When The Flames Go Up. It gets better. All of it.