Tag Archives: Co-parenting

Sobbing on the Bathroom Floor

That’s where I found myself tonight.

I had knocked over the glass with my last vitamin C tablet. Tepid orangey fizzing liquid dripped down the side of the vanity onto the floor. Dripped behind the toilet. Dripped onto the trashcan.

This is not something that would send a normal person into sobs, but for me, it was the last straw.

I have struggled for years with clinical depression, and I’m the first to admit that PMS makes everything a thousand times worse. Combine those two factors with exhaustion, sickness, and the ache in my heart, and you get me, sobbing on the bathroom floor.

I miss my guys. Smiley is back with his dad after only two days, and last week’s time away from him was so hard, even with my great vacation. The Writer is on another business trip. I am home alone. It is too quiet. I have time to brood.

I worry about what I’m “doing” to Smiley. How he’ll turn out. Whether I’m ruining his life by “bouncing him back and forth” between two homes (his dad’s phrase). He’s so easygoing and adaptable and happy, and I know how important it is for him to have as much access to both of his parents as possible (and there is no way I’m getting back together with his father). But I’m so worried and I feel so guilty.

I twiddle my thumbs and get anxious for the day to come when The Writer and I can move in together and get married, and then I turn around and worry that I am wishing away these days. I know it will happen, but I am impatient. I worry that I won’t be a good stepmother–that I won’t even get a fair chance because The Writer’s ex will badmouth me to their daughter.

I worry that I’ll never get the weight off. That I won’t be able to keep up with Smiley. I worry that I’m not reading enough parenting books and I just go with the flow too often. Are there things I need to be doing? Am I stunting his emotional growth and education? Is he getting enough calcium? Is he getting too much?

I am looking ahead at the winter holidays and dreading more time away from Smiley. I’m dreading more time away from The Writer, when he spends almost a week with his daughter. (I am so glad they’ll have that much time together–it’ll be great for both of them–but time with her means our only contact is e-mail, texts, and whispered phone calls after she’s asleep.)

Smiley, The Writer, and I had one night together this week, and it was great. My family, all in one place. We made dinner, ate together, played, and had a wonderful evening. Those days are rare, and they have quickly become my favorite days of all. Then Tuesday it was back to mama and Smiley (which was still pretty awesome), and tonight, it’s just me. Planted on the couch, feeling sorry for myself, only realizing right before bed that I hadn’t stopped at the drugstore for more Mucinex. I was so glad there was a vitamin C tablet left, thankful I could at least take that to help fight the cold that surely has already taken hold.

And then I knocked over the glass.

And there I am on the floor, sobbing, cleaning up a mess beneath the toilet with the “good” towels I received as a wedding present.

It’s only fitting, I guess.


Hardship is Not a Zero-Sum Game

I know I keep promising Roxanne the story of my ex-husband’s slutty girlfriend, but I keep having other things to say. And I’m not really in the mood to relive the story just yet.

In the meantime, I read a great post called “Being a Single Parent Isn’t Hipster,” and it brought up a lot of feelings about my struggle with calling myself a single mom. And it brought me back to my conflicted feelings on my situation.

I once heard that “talent is not a zero-sum game,” meaning that just because someone else has talent doesn’t mean that you aren’t also talented. I’ve applied that to so many things in my life, but lately I’ve been thinking about it in terms of tragedy and hardship.

It is difficult to parent on my own, to be the only one responsible for my son, and to be “on” all the time when Smiley is with me. Also, I only have my son 50 percent of the time, and that sucks, I miss him so much it physically hurts. But I try to look at the bright side: I get time off. I have time to myself, time to go on dates, time for uninterrupted sleep. And my son is being cared for by his other parent when he’s not with me. I have a decent co-parent, but he seems to be able to turn off and tune out when he doesn’t have Smiley, so when I’m on my own, I really am on my own.

But when I find myself complaining about my life, I sometimes think of some friends and how they have more difficult situations. I have friends who are single moms 100 percent of the time. But just because they have it tough, doesn’t mean my life is a breeze.

I have several friends whose exes have practically abandoned their children. But every one of those friends is in a different situation. Every situation is difficult.

One friend lives with her parents, who provide free daycare, which is a great savings, since the dad doesn’t pay child support. And her daughter gets to have a great relationship with her grandparents. But my friend doesn’t go out in the evenings or on weekends on her own because she doesn’t want to take advantage of her parents since they already watch her daughter so much of the time. Plus she is thirtysomething and lives with her parents.

One friend lives very close to her parents and has two sisters who are able to help with her son when she needs it. But she doesn’t get a dime of child support, and her ex-husband calls in the middle of the night to berate her, not to talk to his son. He lives out of town and has dropped off forms in the mailbox while his son is at school, never making arrangements to see him. And this friend is very strong and independent and doesn’t like to ask for help. (I know she’s reading, and I would like to say “Hi, I love you, and asking for help doesn’t make you weak. And please remind me of this when I am down on myself for needing help.”)

I try not to focus on the deficiencies in my life, but sometimes it’s difficult not to.

I miss my son–so very much–when he’s with his dad. Sure, both of those friends have their kids 100 percent of the time and they don’t have to run any decisions by their exes, but they don’t get any regular time off. Sure, both of those friends have parents and family members around who can help them and I don’t, but I get breaks every few days and my ex is finally paying child support. The numbers don’t add up. There’s no winner in this situation.

Hardship is not a zero-sum game. Just because it’s hard for you doesn’t mean it isn’t hard for me. It’s just hard in a different way.

This isn’t actually a response to Lil’ Devil Mama’s post. I completely understand where she’s coming from.  I had already been drafting a post about this topic and her post just inspired me to finish it. I know there are some ways I have it easier than others, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.

Also, please read Chopper Papa’s take on deadbeat dads. It is powerful.

What a Weekend!

As much as I miss Smiley when he is with his dad, there are advantages to co-parenting and sharing custody.

The Writer and I had time together this weekend for the first time in a month. Thirty-six hours of uninterrupted time! Just the two of us! It was wonderful. We had a casual dinner out on Friday night, giving us time to catch up and talk. There were so many silences, though, because we were too busy grinning cheesily at each other, happy to be together again.

We slept in on Saturday and bummed around the house a little, then we spent a romantic evening at a gorgeous boutique hotel. They have a wine reception each evening, which gave us more time to talk and reminisce about the two other times we stayed there, once when I was hugely pregnant. It’s a special place for us, and a great way to get out of our normal routine (well, when we have a normal routine).

We enjoyed the reception and then we got all dressed up (me in a dress, he in a jacket and tie!) and went to a little fish & chips joint where we overloaded on grease and I got to have some tasty English cider. (No matter that I can get it in cans at my supermarket; it’s still nice to be able to have it out and about!) And yes, that’s The Writer’s hand in the pic!

We opened a bottle of wine at the hotel and talked some more and toasted each other and our time together. And enjoyed our wine and our time and each other.

The morning was a little rough–the hotel screwed up our breakfast and we didn’t get to eat–but we got over it. I dropped him off at his place and he went to spend the day with his awesome daughter.

I headed out to meet with some girlfriends and go to a wine festival. Sample tweet: “Wine festival with my girls. So flipping drunk it’s embarassing.” And it was true. (And even misspelled.) I hadn’t eaten much that morning (see above: hotel screwed up our breakfast), and I wanted to make my $40 entrance fee worth it. And I did. Wow.

I hadn’t had that much to drink in a long time. I didn’t get sick, but I am not really sure how I managed to fight it off. I’m still a bit embarrassed by the whole thing. I had to hang out at my girlfriend’s house for a few hours to sober up before I could drive home, and even then I was pretty much done for the evening. Thankfully The Writer doesn’t mind just chilling on the couch with me.

But I talked about it this morning with The Writer and the BFF, and there’s no reason for me to feel ashamed. I’m (well) over 21. I had a designated driver. I waited for a long time before I drove. And Smiley was with his dad. I don’t get rip-roaring drunk every weekend–or even every year. (The last time I think I was close to this drunk was probably my first wedding anniversary–hmm, maybe that was a sign–over four years ago.) I have the occasional glass of wine or other drink, but I rarely drink to oblivion or to the point where my faculties are impaired. And I did it responsibly.

So, overall, it was a fantastic weekend. I wouldn’t have been able to have the same great experiences if I were still married to the ex (for various reasons!) or if I didn’t trust that Smiley was in good hands.

I miss my boy like crazy, but my friends and my boyfriend more than made up for it this weekend!