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Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Caroline is in Arizona for the week with Tyler, visiting his parents, because he has her for her birthday this year. Which means, of course, that I’m on momcation… and missing her.
Whenever she’s away from me for more than a day or two, I always try to make the most of it, and this week has been no exception. Since she left on Friday, I’ve been going nonstop, doing all the things that are impossible to do when you are a single mom to a toddler who’s in bed before 8pm. I went shopping with friends, salsa dancing with my South American friends from work, have been out partying with friends until all hours (a more-than-semi-ridiculous night which actually ended up with me stitching up my friend’s face after she nailed herself with the car door), went on a really fun date with a very cute guy (judge me), celebrated match day out at the bars with my dental student friends, and of course enjoyed the requisite sleeping in and staying up super late, just because I can.
Clearly, I’ve been enjoying my single, childless life to the fullest. I actually almost started to be grateful that she was gone for so long, because I was having so much fun and had really been in need of a break. Then I was at work today, talking to Caroline in between patients via FaceTime, and she noticed my scrubs and head covering.
“Are you done being a dentist yet, Mama?” she asked.
“No, not yet,” I said, thinking she meant for the day. ”I have awhile yet to go.”
“Oh,” she said sadly. “I thought it was time for me to come see Mama. I asked Daddy if I could see my Mama and he said no because you were far far away. I miss my Mama.”
That was the sound of the Fun Train coming to a screeching, crashing halt– stopped in its tracks by the Divorced Mom Guilt. I felt so guilty that I kind of wanted to cry. Here I am, going out nonstop and having a blast, while my poor kid is 2000 miles away, missing her mom.
It’s not that I don’t miss her, of course… I keep as busy as I do because there is no point in wallowing in the sadness of her being gone. All I can do is enjoy myself as much as I can until she gets back.
But man, that made me feel bad… as it should… I think. What about you, fellow parents, single or otherwise– are you able to enjoy your kid-free time, or do you feel guilty about it if you do?
Categories: Caroline, Divorce, Residency, Single Parenting, Unexpectedly Expecting | Tags: Caroline, Dating, Divorce, Friends, Residency, Single Parenting, Visitation
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
Saturday, December 17th, 2011
Remember that time I blogged about how Caro potty trained herself? Yeah… forget I ever said that.
She was pretty much fully potty trained when I wrote that. And then? Then she went to Arizona with Tyler for Thanksgiving, and he put her in diapers the whole time. And she promptly un-potty-trained herself. I cannot, for the life of me, get her to go on the potty.
I’ve written about degprogramming after visitation before, but this is way worse. If we’re all being honest, this is pretty much grounds for murder. Right? I picture the scenario to go something like this:
Judge: You are here to be sentenced for the murder of your ex-husband. Do you have anything to say for yourself?
Me: Please, your honor, he un-potty-trained my almost-three-year-old.
Judge: Case dismissed.
(Brutally obvious disclaimer: I am kidding about that, okay, people?)
I know, I know, some of you warned me in comments and tweets that potty training regression might happen. But I guess I had hoped they were vicious lies. Turned out you were absolutely correct. I’ll never doubt you again, internet!
I shouldn’t completely blame Tyler, because regression seems like a pretty common thing. And I probably shouldn’t have made the final push on ditching the diapers shortly before she went on that trip. Oh well… poor planning on my part. But the end result is the same: she will sit on the potty, but she won’t go, and sometimes she’ll beg to put a diaper on and throw a tantrum when I tell her that we don’t do diapers anymore.
(I swore I’d never be that mom who talks about potty stuff on the internet, but well, here we are. Great to be here with you guys.)
I know that potty training is something that can’t really be pushed, and she’s definitely the sort of kid who has to make it her decision, so I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do.
So I turn to you all, who gave me such great advice about ditching the binky: what do you do about potty training regression? I hope someone out there has something that worked for them, because preschool age is rapidly approaching, and I’d like to have her re-potty trained so she can start on time!
Friday, December 2nd, 2011
Anybody been following this Mindy McCready story?
Anybody not think she’s lost it?
Basically, she does not have custody of her five-year-old son, but she’s taken him out of state and is refusing to return him to her parents, who do have custody of the child. She claims that her mother is abusing him and says that she’ll go to jail if she has to, but she won’t bring the boy back.
Mindy, honey? Ya can’t do that.
Quite frankly, I’m not sure why she hasn’t already been arrested. I’m fairly certain that if a man had pulled a stunt like this, there would be all sorts of Amber Alerts and search parties and he’d be in all kinds of jail. As she should be. That court order is there for a reason. It is very difficult for a mother to completely lose custody of her child, so the courts must have deemed her unfit.
Even if she had some kind of joint custody, it still wouldn’t be okay. Tyler and I have joint custody of Caroline, and if he took her out of the state and refused to bring her back? I would freak the freak out. Actually, I can’t even think about it without my hands starting to shake.
Who knows what is really going on with the child’s grandmother. Maybe he is in an unsafe situation with his grandparents and needs to be removed. But kidnapping him (and it literally is kidnapping, in a situation like this) is not the way to go about it. That’s not how you keep your kid safe. You file a report with child services and they can remove the child from the home within 24 hours if the allegations turn out to be substantiated. You don’t go pick up the kid and leave the state when you don’t have custody and then go on the news announcing that you won’t bring him back. (Or that you “probably” won’t bring him back. Yeah, um, you “probably” don’t have a choice.) All that’ll get you is a one-way ticket to jail and your child a one-way ticket back to the home that you wanted him removed from. And if your child needs to be protected, how exactly do you plan on protecting him from jail? Not. Smart.
I’m not even going to touch the fact that she’s pregnant. Okay, just kidding, I totally am. The court won’t give you custody of the child you already have, and you’re having two more? And doesn’t she think that maybe this little detour to crazytown could possibly affect her custody of those children once they are born? The kidnapping of her son just reeks of selfishness and impulsiveness to me, personally, without much consideration for the consequences her actions might have for any of her children, born or unborn.
Go ahead and sound off in the comments… I can’t be the only one who thinks this is nuts.
Thursday, December 1st, 2011
Anyone who has ever tried to coparent with someone after a breakup or divorce knows that it’s… kind of the worst thing ever.
For me, it’s a mixed bag. Tyler and I have good phases and bad phases. Lately it’s been pretty good. I think that as time passes post-divorce, it gets easier to keep that necessary distance while still staying civil. Both of us being in new (healthier) relationships helps a lot, too.
There are a lot of challenges, though. To me, the most frustrating one is trying to develop a coparenting relationship that has a different dynamic than our marriage did. Relationships have momentum, you know what I mean? Once the interaction between two people is established, the pattern is pretty well set, and it’s hard to change.
Tyler and I were together for seven years. We developed a way of interacting over those years that I clearly did not care for, since I filed for divorce. From my point of view, it was basically him telling me that he was going to be gone for long periods of time and that I would need to rearrange my career to accommodate caring for Caroline, so that he could build up a reputation in his field and finish his PhD. In the beginning, before we had Caroline, to be honest… I liked it. I liked to mother him and take care of him and cook him dinner and keep his house, and I was proud of all the things he had accomplished so young. (He treated me more like a subordinate than a partner, but as you can see, I am also at fault for encouraging it.) I liked that he depended on me, even if I didn’t always enjoy being alone while he worked. But eventually I became resentful of everything he asked of me, and the very little that he gave in return… both to me, and to our child. And I didn’t want to back-burner my career anymore, because it was important to me.
Too often, our coparenting relationship reminds me of our marriage. He will text me to say “I’ll be away for x number of days/weeks and I’ll be picking up Caroline for these days and I’ll need you to take her back on this day.” I’ll say okay, rearrange my schedule to accommodate his, and basically do whatever he asks… but then I’ll get mad, and resentful, and pick a fight with him, and then we snipe at each other via text for a few days and act sullen when we finally see each other. Sounds healthy, right? And by no means do I claim that it’s all his fault– fighting takes two.
But how do you change that pattern of interaction? How do you reverse the momentum of a relationship when you have to stay in constant contact after a breakup, because you have a child together? How do you put the pieces of a broken marriage back together to form a healthy coparenting relationship?
It’s hard. It really sucks. I don’t know the answer. I tried, today, to establish something new. He texted me, telling me the way the next visit was going to go. I told him that I had a conflict with my schedule, but I would be happy to have a two-way discussion about it if he would rephrase his order as a request. Somehow, we ended up fighting anyway.
One of my friends said to me tonight, “I hate seeing my ex every day at school. It doesn’t seem fair that I still have to deal with that, every single day.” I looked at him. “I win,” I said. “I have to deal with mine for 18 years.” (He was kind enough to refer to my one-upping as “perspective”.)
But, hey, that’s just life and coparenting after divorce. You’ve got to make the best of it… right? If you’re a single parent, how do you and your ex manage?
Categories: Caroline, Divorce, Single Parenting, Unexpectedly Expecting, Work/Life Balance | Tags: Caroline, Coparenting, Divorce, Marriage, Single Parenting, Tyler, Visitation