Saturday, 22 March 2014

In the Interim

It has been a few weeks now with very limited contact from Darren. I had asked for this break and he agreed – a big surprise, given his persistence over the past six months. I think (hope) Darren is coming to terms with the reality of our separation and is now using this time to focus on rebuilding his life, just as I am trying to do.

But this feels like the calm before the storm. There is still a lot to sort out between us. There is still a lot that’s in limbo. Major decisions regarding our children won’t be made until Darren starts working again. Given his line of work, he could be doing anything from a nine-to-five job, to a shift job out of town, to a combination of office and field work. This will greatly impact the type of child custody arrangement we will have for the long-run. It will also impact child support, an issue I expect will be very sensitive and cause some major tension between us.

I know that Darren wants to have a 50/50 custody arrangement. I have mixed feelings about this, at least in the short-run. On one hand, I feel so strongly about my children having a close relationship with their father. The more time they spend with him, the better for them. On the other hand, I feel they are so young right now – just a preschooler and a toddler – and they've only known the life of being with me every day and every night. They’re not even in school yet. It’s a lot for them to go back and fourth between two homes at such a young age. For the next few years, I’d prefer to continue to have majority custody. Darren tells me that this custody problem is the result of my decision, that our children will pay the price. It’s because of me that they have to live in two homes now. But I am letting go of the guilt he has been dishing out on me.

Right now, we have settled into a routine where the girls are with Darren from Friday morning until Sunday evening. Two nights and nearly three days away from me. It’s hard, but I think I would be devastated to go a full week at a time without seeing my girls, so this arrangement is a relatively good deal. And there are some definite benefits, things I have hardly experienced in nearly four years. For one, I get two nights of uninterrupted sleep. I have joined a gym and am regularly getting exercise again. I am also enjoying the occasional night out with girlfriends. On top of that, I have time to study to maintain my professional certification as well as prepare for my move. Although my life now has been compartmentalized into days with my children and days without them, I am finally getting a taste of balance again.

But there are some disadvantages too, perhaps a glimpse into what the long-term challenges of co-parenting could look like for us. Birthday parties, sports events, and other opportunities for the girls are popping up on the weekends and as it stands now, they could be missing out on a lot of those things because I won’t be with them. We haven’t sorted out how we’ll handle these events, but for now, we’re taking it week by week, making individual decisions about the girls as we have them. I hate not knowing what my girls are doing, where they’re going, or how they’re feeling. All I can do is trust that Darren is doing the best job he can to make them feel loved and happy. Fortunately, I believe he is.