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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?
Categories: Caroline, Divorce, Residency, Single Parenting, Unexpectedly Expecting, Work/Life Balance | Tags: Caroline, Custody, Divorce, Moving, Residency, Single Parenting, Tyler, Visitation
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.
Categories: Caroline, Must Read, Residency, Single Parenting, Unexpectedly Expecting, Work/Life Balance | Tags: Apartment, Caroline, Custody, Dentistry, Divorce, Military, Moving, Residency, Single Parenting, Tyler, Visitation
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.
Categories: Caroline, Residency, Single Parenting, Unexpectedly Expecting, Work/Life Balance | Tags: Caroline, Custody, Dating, Divorce, Military, Money, Moving, Residency, Single Parenting, Tyler, Visitation
Monday, March 5th, 2012
There is nothing that makes me go quite as postal as hearing someone equate single parenting to bad parenting.
(Prepare to hear me go postal. Hold me back, ladies.)
This bill, introduced in Wisconsin by a man who has never been married and has no children, states that single mothers should be penalized because their unmarried status is a risk factor for child abuse and neglect. The bill would require the funding of ad campaigns to “educate” the public regarding the ill effects of single parenthood on children.
Imagine it: you’re a single mom (from the language, this bill is clearly aimed at women). You collapse on the couch after a long day at work and feeding and bathing and getting your kids to bed, all by yourself, as usual. You click on the TV to relax, and some ad pops up and pompously, self-righteously, ignorantly tells you what a crappy parent and child abuser you are, just because you aren’t married. I don’t think so, Wisconsin.
Now, I don’t know in concrete terms what the aforementioned “penalty” would be (nothing is mentioned in the text of the bill), but it doesn’t take a lawyer to figure out the real danger here: the passage of a bill like this would set a precedent for legitimizing the usage of a single parent’s marital status as a “black mark” against them as far as the best interest of their child goes, and that, my friends, is straight-up discrimination and a giant step backwards for hundreds of thousands of women and children in this country.
The senator who introduced the bill would also like to underscore “the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect”. And what role would that be, exactly? Too often, a single mother is single because the father up and left her. How about penalizing those deadbeats instead of the hard-working, self-sacrificing women who pick up their slack? Watch out, Caroline. Don’t you dare ask me for that third cookie. I might just freak out and do something crazy with all my female hormones and emotions running rampant and no level-headed man here to stop me.
No doubt this piece of judgmental trash masquerading as a state senator is one of the Limbaugh-esque far right conservatives who don’t believe contraceptives should be a covered service for the very sector of the population which contains the vast majority of single mothers. I try not to get political on my blog, but really people, it’s the elephant in the room and I can’t hold my tongue: you can’t get birth control, you can’t get an abortion, and you can’t keep the child because then you’d be a single mother and, apparently, an abuser… so your only option is what, adoption? But then he goes on to say that a child should be raised by two biological parents, so adoption doesn’t work either. What exactly are we going to do with all these children? Perhaps they will all just conveniently disappear?
Some of my regular readers may remember that I actually wrote something along the lines of this topic months ago. Statistics don’t lie: single parenthood is a risk factor for child abuse, plain and simple, and that fact should be recognized. But in order to truly make a difference for abused children, it is critical that we distinguish between offering guidance, support, and practical resources rather than forwarding a cruel, judgmental, and purposeless smear campaign against women who face more than enough stereotyping on a daily basis in addition to all the other challenges of raising children alone.
Honestly, I know that this bill is too ridiculous to ever have a prayer of passing, and I shouldn’t even give it the publicity of a blog post. But I couldn’t keep silent on the topic, because discrimination and an ad campaign tantamount to slander based on marital status is not okay, in this country or anywhere else. I hope it never is.
Sunday, January 15th, 2012
Okay, first of all I just wanted to thank everyone who sent me comments, emails, tweets, and Facebook messages supporting my big decision. I really, really appreciated every single one of them.
To answer all of your questions…
You realize you won’t actually have a lot of choice in where you are stationed, right? Yes, I do realize that. I don’t mind that, because I don’t have anywhere in particular I’d like to move, but taking Caroline too far from her father is an issue. Which I will discuss in a moment…
Who will Caroline stay with when you are deployed overseas? All branches of the military require something called a Family Care Plan before any single parent can sign up, so I had to have this figured out before even starting the process. (Side note: I was surprised to discover that being a single parent actually disqualifies you from enlisting as a soldier, though apparently not as an officer.) Caroline will stay with Tyler, since we have joint legal custody, and if he needs to travel while she is with him (which he no doubt will), she’ll visit my parents or his parents. I actually even had a good friend offer to take Caroline during my deployments after I told her of my decision… one of the most selfless and touching offers I have ever received, and proof (not that I needed any) that I have the best friends anyone could wish for.
Do you have to complete the same boot camp as everyone else? Yes and no. There is basic training for officers (the length and location varies based on the branch), but by all accounts it is a somewhat watered-down version of what enlisted soldiers go through. I’d totally do it even if it weren’t, though. I am badass like that, you guys.
How will you handle all the traveling/being away from Caroline? The Army often extends deployments months beyond what you were promised, and can even redeploy you within a year. This was concerning news to me… I had believed the recruiter when he told me that deployments were only 90 days. It may be different for a dentist than it was for the people I talked to who were pilots, etc., but is still a sticking point for me, as you can imagine. All of it sounds great until I think about being away for my daughter for as long as a year– I’m just not willing to do that, I don’t think she could handle it, and from a purely practical standpoint, I don’t think I’d be able to nail down childcare for that long. Multiple people told me I should consider the Air Force because their deployments are shorter and less frequent, so I am currently looking into that. I’ll keep you all posted!
I was surprised that no one asked if I was legally allowed or willing to move Caroline far away from Tyler, because that really is the biggest issue with my entire plan. He may not take his full visitation that he is entitled to, but he has been doing really well with seeing her often, and they’ve formed a pretty solid bond– much better than it used to be. Both of us are worried that moving Caroline far away from him will damage that bond. I do have full physical custody but I can’t imagine how I’d feel if he proposed moving Caroline out of state away from me, so we are trying to come up with a plan together. We haven’t figured out the details just yet, but I’m confident that we will.
So, this week I’ll be meeting with an Air Force recruiter to check out that avenue, and then get the process started with one of the branches once I figure out which one will work best with my single parent status. I’m incredibly excited about this new chapter. Thanks again, everyone, for all your support!
Categories: Caroline, Divorce, Residency, Single Parenting, Unexpectedly Expecting, Work/Life Balance | Tags: Caroline, Custody, Dentistry, Divorce, Military, Moving, Single Parenting, Travel, Tyler, Visitation