Sometimes, you just have to know when to stay away. I mean this in terms of poly relationships, but first I'm going to back up a bit and make a suggestion about parenting.
I'm convinced, from our own experience at least, of something about having a kid. It's this: when Vee and I were expecting Edwin, we tried hard to surrender to the fact that the newcomer would likely have a huge impact on our established life as a couple. Which (duh) he did. But because we had accepted this would be so, we somehow blended the really desirable elements of our pre-baby relationship back into our lives far faster and more easily than if we'd dug our heels in and tried to squeeze the parenting business into our existing jamboree of jobs, dates, pubs, and travel. That path, we felt, would have led to resentment and frustration, not to mention being hugely unfair on baby.
Mostly, it was a question of being modest in our ambitions for a while. So if he went to sleep early, we took advantage of that and spent time together. As the weeks went by, Vee actually started to feel good about herself and her body as she emerged from the turmoil of childbirth. She observed that breastfeeding had a good effect on her, making her slimmer, as well as suiting Edwin. And, to be blunt, we had more sex more often in the year or two after he was born, than we had done in the year or two before. (I love mentioning that: I hope it gives a bit of hope to couples who are about to drop a sprog.)
What does all that have to do with judging when to be present or absent when it comes to polyamory? The common factor is that word "surrender". It's odd to think about the term positively, if we associate it with throwing in the towel; with giving in. But that's not what I'm on about.
I'm talking about having the grace to realize that having a partner does not always necessitate being physically there for them all the time. Often, they have a crapload of other stuff and other people to which they need - and want - to devote their time. It's just plain vain or insecure to fight that fact.
Example: right now, Terisa, Scott and Larry are remodeling. Terisa is constantly busy not only with this but with her professional work, before we even come to the business of her spending time with the guys and with their three dogs. So I've stayed out of her -- their -- way a lot in the past few weeks. Strings of days have gone by when she and I have done little more than text a few times, and maybe hang out at the dog park for an hour. But even during Thanksgiving week, when I was home alone and a few moments' drive from her house, I got the sense that it was best just to give her, and the chaps, space. Result? Sure enough, in the past few days, she and I have had a nice morning or two together, and she has spent hours of quality time with Edwin and Vee. But if I'd pushed the issue and been under her feet for much of the month? I think we'd be at each other's throats by now, muttering strange oaths.
Vee and I, too, have understood this about each other for years. One of us will take Edwin out for a half a day, and just leave the other in peace. I don't expect her to use this time earnestly, or even wholesomely, and vice versa. Nor do I ask. It's her freakin' private time. Pop open another bottle of Guinness, girl.
Of course, it's just as important to know when to be with one's partners: when to seek them out, or pop over on impulse, or just plain make the effort. That's another matter.
Back to the staying-away thing, though. Do I always make the right choice? Probably not. But I do think that the better I get to know my partners and what is on their plates, the better I get at it.