Archive for the ‘ Single Parenting ’ Category

Long-Distance Visitation

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

So lately I’m scrambling to get my life together for the next year-ish plus, including but not limited to:

1) Finding a job (or several part-time jobs) in private practice,

2) Finding a new apartment,

3) Finding a new preschool,

4) Sorting out the latest complicated situation in my personal life, which for once I don’t feel like discussing here (hey, there’s a first time for everything, right?),

5) Not attending the purse party (this one was critical), and

6) Figuring out a plan for long-distance visitation, since Tyler is moving to D.C. and Caroline and I are staying here in New England.

Yep… lots of changes happening around here.

I have several interviews and prospects lined up for number one, numbers two and three are dependent on the location of number one, number four is just depressing me and you’d probably all judge me for it anyway, number five is very much completed, and number six is undetermined right now.  Which is where you people come in.

Tyler and I have always known we would eventually have to figure out some kind of plan for long-distance visitation.  He is a paleontologist, and there are very few job openings for that, so he will likely always live far away from us.  He’ll be going from postdoc to postdoc for a number of years, but once he settles down permanently, I’ll consider relocating to where he is for Caroline’s sake.

Until then, I have no idea how to work this– try to stick to the current every-other-weekend schedule?  Figure out several longer periods of visitation, spaced farther out over time?  Who will be responsible for traveling with her, and how will we work out who covers what?  I don’t want to just leave it up to him and not have a plan, because I’m pretty sure he’ll slowly fade out of Caroline’s life… and they’ve gotten so much closer lately, and it’s been so good for her.

(Selfish full-disclosure time: it’s not just about Caroline.  I’ll admit that I’m freaking out a bit about the potential of going back to the solo parenting gig, because that was a tough road.  I love my daughter, but she is quite the handful at this age and I need a little bit of a break.  My parents are fantastic and will always help me out, but Caroline needs her father, too, and he has responsibilities that he should be fulfilling no matter where he lives.  So, we need a plan.)

Any suggestions?  How do you and your ex handle long-distance coparenting?  And if one of you moved and you changed your visitation schedule drastically, did you actually modify your court order, or just work it out between you two as a verbal agreement?

 

Add a Comment

Just a Simple Trip to the Playground

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

I can’t possibly be the only mom who’s had simple, fun outings turn out like this… right?

So I was sick this past weekend with some kind of disgusting flu, but I had promised to take Caroline to a playground on Saturday after her nap.  I always try to keep my promises to her because I’m a good mom, okay, so we still went despite my illness and this is how it went. 

She didn’t wake up from her nap until about 4pm, so I finally got her out the door around 4:30 (after asking repeatedly, “Do you want a snack?  Do you want a drink?”   “No,” she insisted, ”no.  I’m not hungry.  I’m not thirsty.”).  We were driving to this playground since there are no good ones within walking distance of our apartment.  No sooner do we get on the highway when she yells “Mama, I’m thirsty!!  I need a drink.”  Of course I brought a snack, but forgot to bring a drink.  I sigh inwardly and tell her that I’ll find somewhere to get her something.  We get off the exit for the playground and I drive around aimlessly until we find a grocery store.

We go inside.  Of course she has to bring her three purses full of toy tools and ponies and bubble wands, and drops a toy on the ground with every step she takes, but refuses to let me carry anything for her.  Meanwhile, she’s wandering around and refusing to get in the shopping cart and charming the pants off everyone who walks by: “Hi!  I’m Caroline!  I’m three years old!  I go to preschool!”  Okay, Caro, just relax.  Nobody here is Santa Claus.  I grab a bottle of water and she informs me that we need to buy bread “to feed the duckies”.  Fine.  I drag her through the grocery store to find the bread, but before we get there, I hear a woman exclaim “Look!  There’s Caroline!!”

I turn around and see one of the other preschool moms with her two kids in the cart waving excitedly at Caroline.  My fever is climbing by the minute, my nose is running like a faucet, and I feel like I’m losing my grip on reality, but we go over to say hello.  The mom notices Caroline’s excessive number of purses (one of which is a Vera Bradley which my friend bought for her, okay).  “Oh!” she says.  “Do you guys like purses?  I’m having a purse party this weekend!”  I pray that I’m hallucinating.  (I’m not.)  Caroline yells frantically that she loves purses.  (Traitor.)  The mom tells me that she’ll come over to our car with an invitation.

Let me tell you a little secret about myself.  I hate purses.  I do.  I hate them.  If I can’t fit something into the little wristlet/wallet that I carry all the time, then I simply don’t need to be carrying it.  There are two types of women in this world, people: those who carry a million things in their purse and have a million pillows on their bed, and those who do not, and let me tell you, I straight-up do not have time for any of that sh*t.  (My daughter is clearly slated to be one of the former, though.)  Even more than purses, I hate parties hosted by someone I don’t know where I’m obligated to buy stuff.  I’m poor, okay?  Also, I’m running a fever of about 103 at this point, I have no idea where we are because we’ve driven so far out of the way, it’s almost dinnertime (which I’ve made no plans for), and I’ve completely forgotten the reason we left our apartment in the first place.

Needless to say, we never made it to the playground.  We went back home to feed the ducks instead.  But how much do you think that trip to the playground cost me, in the end?

Bottle of water and bread to feed the ducks (“Buy 2 get 1 free!” proclaimed the sign on the shelf.  Oh, but only if you have a store card.  Which I don’t, because I have no idea where we are and this isn’t my grocery store): $10

Gas to drive all over who knows where for an hour: $10

Purse party I’m now obligated to attend so that I’m not forever ostracized at preschool: $50 for purse, $30 for babysitter (“No kids!” she called brightly over her shoulder as she trotted back to her minivan.  B*tch!)

Total: $100

But… watching your 3-year-old ecstatically toss bread to the ducks, after all that, albeit through a feverish haze? 

PRICELESS.

Add a Comment

Decisions, Decisions.

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

I made my decision about what to do with my life.  Finally.  After this, I will quit talking about it.  Promise.

I told myself the other night that once Caroline was in bed, I was going to sit down on my couch and figure out what I was doing once and for all.  I’ve been going around in circles for months and nothing is going to change, I’m not going to have any sudden epiphanies… I needed to just sit down and reason it out and decide.

So I did.

I’m not joining the Army.  I’m not moving to DC with Tyler, where he’s accepted a postdoctoral position.  I’m not staying here in my apartment, either.  I’m going to look around New England for jobs, try to stay within a reasonable distance of my family and friends so that I don’t lose my support system, and I’m going to move wherever I find a job that I am happy with.  And because my program director was kind enough to offer, I’m going to stay in my residency until the end of the summer to take the pressure off of immediately finding a new job (and apartment, and preschool).

It is somewhat disappointing to let the Army thing go, but more of a relief, really.  I don’t want a legal battle with Tyler, which he threatens on and off, I don’t want to be incredibly far away from my family and friends, I don’t want to risk being sent away from my daughter to serve in a war that my hippie self will undoubtedly not believe in… I don’t want to be away from her at all, really.  I guess the truth is that as the reality of the situation approaches, and sets in, that career choice is not worth the sacrifice to me.  I will still be a dentist no matter what I do.  And if the idea of nine weeks away from her for training makes me want to cry, then I can’t even imagine up to a year or more of deployment…

Whenever I am faced with a decision in my life, I think I am often drawn to do the crazy thing.  The thing that most people are afraid to do, or wouldn’t choose.  I take a lot of pride in it, for some perverse reason.  I’m afraid that this is one of those things that I would do simply for the reason that it is different, and that I would regret it (and its effect on my daughter), and I’d still have years stretching out ahead of me with an unbreakable commitment to the military…

I made list after list and thought about pros and cons and all kinds of logical things.  And it helped me make the decision, I’ll admit.  But what I couldn’t get out of my head was this:

I had picked Caroline up from Tyler’s place on Sunday afternoon after she had spent the weekend there.  I was giving her a bath that night, and from out of nowhere she looked at me and said, “At night time at Daddy’s house, when it starts getting dark, I sit on the rug and I think about Mama.”

I can’t risk leaving her.  I just can’t.  Not for my career.  Not for anything.  She would be traumatized and I would be miserable.

Maybe I’m finally growing up.  (Just kidding.  That’ll never happen.)

I do need a change, though, so I’m going to move somewhere else in New England.  Honestly, if Tyler were moving permanently to DC, I would probably pick up and move there too, just so she could have as full of a relationship with her father as possible.  But even he admits that he is most likely going to bounce from postdoc to postdoc for years on end, so I am going to put off relocating with him until he’s settled down, and then I’ll see where I’m at in my life and reevaluate the situation.

It feels good to have a plan, and one that I am happy with.  I came within mere inches of doing the crazy thing, but I am turning my back on it and walking away.  It sounds a little anticlimactic from the outside, maybe… but I think it’s the perfect solution, and I couldn’t be more at peace with the whole thing.

I get to have my new start, and I don’t have to leave my baby.  I don’t know why it took me so long to get here, but I’m glad that I did, in the end.

Add a Comment

Crossroads

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Sorry for the lack of posting these days, you guys.  I’m sort of paralyzed at this crossroads in my life.  Up until now, I haven’t been able to put it together into anything coherent or remotely interesting for internet “strangers” to read, which makes me feel pretty bummed out about it all.

I mean, if you can’t even manage to construct a blog post about major decisions in your life, how are you ever going to figure them out and actually live them?

I’ve taken the military dentistry thing to the end.  I went to MEPS, passed my physical, filled out mountains of paperwork, and am waiting to hear back from the board regarding whether or not I’ve been selected for active duty.  I should hear back sometime this week.

Of course, in my own mind I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not this is the best decision for me and for Caroline.  Recently, Tyler, who I thought was on board with the whole thing since he’s moving out of state anyway, informed me that he really doesn’t want me to join.  I truly can’t decide what his motivation is.  I don’t know if he’s afraid about losing time with her (he never takes his full visitation anyway), or if he’s afraid that I’ll be deployed and he will be left solely responsible for her for months on end and he won’t know how to handle that.  It is probably a little bit of both.

His opposition is a big deal to me, as you can imagine.  I want to be on good terms with him and maintain his relationship with Caroline for everyone’s sake… and, legally, he could put up a fight about me taking her far away.  I don’t think he’d have much of a leg to stand on since he is also moving out of state, but to be honest with you, I’m not up for a court battle.  The major reason I left him was that I simply do not have it in me to fight with this man anymore.

He says reluctantly that he will let us go, that we will work out visitation, if the Army is what I really want.  But in the end it does not matter why he doesn’t want me to go.  If he wants to step up and be more of a father, I need to support that.  And if it’s just that he’s afraid to be responsible for Caroline all alone, then it’s not in my child’s best interest to risk having to leave her with him for months at a time.

If I don’t join the Army, it’s getting a bit late to be looking for other jobs, which is stressful.  After Tyler told me of his objections, I scrambled to line up a few interviews for private practices, because the end of my residency is fast approaching, and I’m a poor resident with a lot of debt and a child to support, and I cannot risk being unemployed for any period of time.  And further complicating the issue is a guy I’ve been dating that I actually really, really like.  Who lives around here, of course.  His situation is too problematic for me to even consider factoring him in to my decision, but realistically, if I leave him, I will miss him…

And yet.  I still can’t let go of the Army, because I really want to do it.  If I don’t, then I at least want to move away from here, from this state I’ve spent nearly my entire life in, from this dark apartment where my marriage crumbled and fell apart.  I need a change.  But I can’t even determine if that is a good idea.  I was talking to the aforementioned guy about it, and he told me that I am struggling with all of this because I don’t even know what kind of life I want to have.  I told him, with my usual tact and subtlety, that he was ridiculous and wrong, that I already know exactly what I want, that I always have.

He said, “The most important thing you have in your life is Caroline, right?  So envision the life you want with her, just you and her.”

I said, without hesitation, “I already have it.”

“Then why do you need to change anything?” he asked.  ”You may think you’ll be happy somewhere different just because it’s different… but you won’t be.  Not unless you actually figure out what you want.”

He’s right, of course.  But I’m no closer to a decision than I ever have been, and now my time is running out.

Add a Comment

Parents Behind the Wheel: A Public Safety Hazard

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Guys, I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but it’s something I feel I have to put out there.

I don’t think that parents of young kids should be allowed to drive.  It’s a matter of public safety, really.  Let’s break this down, shall we?

Parents of newborns.  This one’s pretty obvious.  Probably even these parents would agree with me.  When you’re getting less sleep than an emergency room intern and a victim of CIA sleep deprivation torture combined, you shouldn’t be allowed to operate a moving vehicle, case closed.  Especially if you’re still on the Percocet from your episiotomy or c-section and all hormonal and post-partumy to boot.  This deadly combination is basically a perfect storm that transforms even the most normal woman into Crazy Zombie Unsafe Driving Mother and whoever she is, I’m pretty sure she shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

Parents of toddlers.  Once you get past the newborn sleep deprivation stage, you have other problems to contend with.  The hum of the engine no longer puts your child into a carseat coma.  They’ve developed a mind of their own and they have things that they want but they don’t know how to verbalize them yet.  After their attention span has been exhausted (translation: after five minutes in the car), what you’re left with is a lot of crying and seat-kicking and you have no idea exactly why or how to fix it, so you’re sweating and stress-eating handfuls of Goldfish at a time as you’re driving all crazy-eyed and there’s crumbs all over your shirt and people are looking at you strangely at red lights (assuming you remembered to stop at them) as you’re flinging every toy and book within arms’ reach over your shoulder into the backseat to try to comfort your child before it turns green.  (Although always brush off the Goldfish crumbs before I stop next to other cars.  It’s called class, people.  Look it up.)

Parents of preschoolers.  You would think that once your kid gets a little older, you might be out of the woods as far as driving safety goes.  But you’d be wrong.  ”Mom, can I have a snack?  Mom, I need my book.  Mom?  Are we there yet?  Mom, I said I need a snack!  Mom, can you pass me my Pooh Bear?  Mom, I’m hungry!!”  Just listening to the incessant demands from the backseat is enough to make you want to purposely drive off a cliff.  Not to mention having to screech to a stop every time your potty-training kid tells you they think they have to pee.  Besides, I’ve seen you guys, driving down the road, listening to orders bellowed by the tiny dictator in the backseat to “SING MAMA SING LOUDER”, so intent on your dramatic hand gestures to “Wheels On the Bus” that you’re veering from the right lane to the rumble strip and back again.  Don’t try to deny it.  I saw you.  Time to hand over the driver’s license, Mom.  You’re a public safety hazard now.

So, who’s with me?  I’m thinking we should probably all turn in our licenses at the hospital nursery and there should be some kind of carpool service (or limo… again, class) that comes and picks us and our kids up whenever we need it.  Sound like a plan?  Like I said, it’s a matter of public safety, really.

Add a Comment