Posts Tagged ‘ Moving ’

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?

 

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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.

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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.

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Stepping Up

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Sometimes, the hardest thing you ever have to do as a parent is make a decision for you.

People keep asking me why I want to join the military. What the draw is for me. “Don’t do it just for the money,” they tell me. “Don’t do it just for the travel. Don’t do it just for the adventure.”

I’m not doing it “just” for any of those things. And none of those things are the major reason for me, anyway.

If I just wanted to travel and do field dentistry, I could volunteer abroad a few times a year. If I just wanted to leave Connecticut, I could move. If I just wanted financial stability, I’d go into private practice. If I just wanted to do dental work for soldiers, I’d be in the civilian service of the military or work at the VA. If I just wanted loan repayment, I’d work for the National Health Service Corps or the Indian Health Service. If I just wanted to avoid dealing with the business aspect of dentistry or malpractice, I’d work in a community health center. If I just wanted broader experience with procedures and new technology, I’d do another residency.

I don’t “just” want any of those things. I want all of them. With the Army I can have them, and more. I can do all of those things, and move with my daughter to a brand new place and join an already-established commmunity. I can do for my patients exactly what they need, without worrying about insurance coverage and whether or not they can pay for the treatment I believe they should have. For that reason, the military is a fantastic place to train as a new dentist.

According to all the Army dentists I’ve talked to, I should assume that I will deploy at some point just to be mentally prepared, but with Iraq over and Afghanistan winding down, it’s more likely that I won’t be deployed than that I will.  If/when I am, it will be for around 4.5 months, and I will be doing the field dentistry that I love.  (I had tried to do the Air Force, because they have shorter and less frequent deployments, but they don’t have any openings for general dentists at this point.)

Obviously there are downsides and hassles and risks. I don’t think anyone would seriously consider being sent far away from their child if the overall package wasn’t something they were very interested in for many reasons. Do I think I’ll make a whole career of it? Maybe, but probably not. But for the next three years, at least, I believe that this is the best career decision I could make. It isn’t spur-of-the-moment, either– I’ve talked about doing this off and on since I was in college, eight years ago.

This is hard for me to say, but I have always been completely honest in what I write and I don’t plan on stopping now…

When you have a child years before you plan to, and your career is very important to you, you are bound to hold some degree of resentment toward the immense, sometimes overwhelming responsibility that is your child… no matter how much you love them. I love my daughter more than life itself, but there are already enough things that I have no control over because I have her, that I wish I could do or wish I did not have to do.

I can’t let this be one of them. I will always wish that I had done it and I don’t want to resent being a mother.

The last time I did something like that, I took a year off from dental school to stay at home with Caroline, and back-burnered my own career so that Tyler would not have to. I sat at home alone, feeling like I had no control over my life or anything that happened to me. And I ended up stumbling around in a haze of postpartum depression and I could barely take care of my daughter, let alone myself. Even the memories of that time are foggy to me now.

To raise your child happy, you have to be happy. That is why I got divorced. That is why I’m doing this.

If I truly believed that I would be harming her, then I would not do it. But what is the cost to her, really, in the grand scheme of things? She moves to a new place. It gets harder for her to see her father, who hasn’t been consistently involved in her life anyway. If or when I get deployed, she will miss me terribly for a few months. And I will miss her. I know it will be unimaginably hard to spend that much time away from my daughter. But a few months spent away from her, one time, will not matter that much over the course of our whole lives. She will be with people she loves, and I will talk to her every day.

She will have amazing experiences, she will be part of a close-knit community, she will have financial stability and an undergraduate education paid for under the GI bill (assuming I stay in the reserves long enough).  She will have a mother and a role model who is happy and fulfilled in her career.  And she will be proud of me and the things I have done.  I wrote not too long ago that being a single parent should never be the reason you don’t follow a dream– it should be the reason you do.  I believe in that statement, totally and completely.

And if none of those things work out the way I had hoped and we both hate it, then, well, it was only a few years of our lives and at least I followed my heart and did what I felt was right, and I will have no regrets or lingering resentment for what might have been. Sometimes… you have to take a leap of faith.

If I were the kind of person to play it safe, I would be sitting here still married to Tyler and wishing, every minute of every day, that I had a different life. If you want a certain life you can’t sit around and hope that it will come to you. You have to step up and take it for yourself.

This is me, stepping up.

Army, here we come.

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When Career and Motherhood Collide

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

For us working moms, achieving a healthy work/life balance can be a real b*tch.

Right? I mean, even on the best of days it’s close to impossible. Work keeps you so late or makes you so tired that you don’t have much energy to be Enthusiastic Mom, or work is mad at you because you’re calling in sick too often because you have to stay home with a sick child who can’t go to daycare, or you’re mad at yourself because you feel like work is taking up too much space in your head and you’re being a preoccupied mother. You’re only one person, so there is always someone who is getting shafted. But I’m here to say stop yelling at us, everybody. We are all doing the best we can. Now run along and make us a cocktail.

It’s even worse when you are facing a giant life decision like I am at the moment. I have this career path that I’ve thought about choosing for a long time, and the circumstances in my life are finally right, or close to it, so all I have to do is just… go for it. Right?

Wrong. It’s not so easy.

I reject the idea that being a single parent means that I can’t do anything. That I know for sure. But does that make me determined and forward-thinking, or selfish and irresponsible? Do the huge, life-changing decisions I’ve made in my not-so-very long life make me confident and ballsy, or fickle and crazy? Am I setting a strong and inspirational example for my daughter, or am I stubbornly dragging her along with me on a path of insanity and instability?

It may be the right career decision for me, but is it the right decision for her? And if it isn’t the best decision for her, does that make it the wrong decision for me?

My head hurts from thinking about it.

I talked more to the Army about my concerns regarding deployment for long periods of time away from my daughter. They assured me that the 90-day deployment policy is something I can depend on with the kind of work I would be doing. Everyone else I know assured me that recruiters will tell me anything, including out-and-out lies, to get me to sign on the dotted line.

I just don’t know. If I do this, I will be a soldier first and a dentist second. I would be proud to be that… Except, well…

I am a mother, first.

I want to do both, and find a balance between them, but the Army will not care that I have a child, or that I’m a single mother. They will send me where they need me, because that’s what I’d be signing up for.

This is something I really, really want to do, for all kinds of reasons. What it comes down to is this: is it all worth it, if I could potentially miss out on months on end of my daughter’s life? That time flies by fast enough as it is, as any mother knows. And I’ve criticized Tyler constantly for putting his career before our child. Would this make me just like him, in the end?

She will not understand the honor and the sacrifice and the incredible career opportunities and experience. She will only know that her mother is gone.

And when I inevitably get deployed, and I come back… will she still know who I am?

I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know…

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