Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Big Question

“What’s your schedule?”

It’s like a code between divorced parents. Every divorced parent knows that by “schedule,” I mean “court-ordered time-sharing with your former spouse.” Non-divorced people may think I’m asking a very personal question.

So what’s my schedule? It’s simple! I have my son from Thursday at noon to Sunday at noon. My ex has his from Sunday at noon until Wednesday at noon. We rotate Wednesday nights every other week. That’s the basic schedule, fifty-fifty. Then there are the joys of federal and school holidays, and summer weeks, and Christmas and Thanksgiving, and….. maybe it’s not so simple.

I have friends whose kids shuttle back and forth multiple times per week, and other friends whose kids see their other parent a couple of times a year.

The #1 question I get asked from non-divorced parents is, “How do you keep up with that kind of schedule?”  Interestingly, this question occurs more frequently than “How do you deal with not seeing your son every day?”  (Answer: Not well! I have a lot of feelings about it!) The schedule question is pretty easy: You just do. It’s like asking a diabetic how she remembers to check her blood sugar. You just do. 

Through my extremely informal research, I’ve found that the failure or success of a schedule depends not on the complexity of the plan, but on the maturity of the parties. Successful co-parents are committed to making their children comfortable with their new (or not-so-new) two-household reality. They are relaxed during transitions from one parent to the other – there are no melodramatic good-byes, no pressure on the children to worry that their other parent is distraught without them. When I drop Tyler off on Sunday afternoon, my ex and I take a few minutes to catch up on Tyler’s week and discuss any issues that might come up in the next week. While this information could be shared by e-mail, it’s important for Tyler to see his parents being normal with each other. It’s not always easy – my ex and I have Very Different Parenting Styles – but Tyler is a very happy, well-adjusted little boy who sees that his parents are not engaged in a war for his affection or his loyalty.  

So yes, keeping up a custody schedule, in addition to a regular school/extracurricular/vacation schedule, is difficult with one child. But my husband and I get to juggle three – count ’em, three! – children, with two – count ’em, two! – totally different schedules. Jason’s schedule looks nothing like mine, and likely never will. If we’re planning the week’s dinners, the first question is, “Who’s going to be there?” In any given week, we will have zero, one, two, and three children at various times. It no longer seems strange to me.

Today, I printed out blank calendars for the summer, and carefully wrote in who was going to be under our roof for each day of the 11-week summer break. Otherwise, I’ll never be able to keep it straight.

Internet, what’s your schedule?

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Snagglepuss

As a parent, you learn to deal with gross things. Most of these things will, at one point or another, shoot out of one of your child’s orifices and result in tears and/or laundry. And for the most part, these gross things no longer seem so horrible.

But there’s always something. For me, it’s loose teeth. Loose teeth fah-reak me out.

There are two reasons for this.

First, when my brother had loose lower teeth, he would let them get so loose that they would flop over his lip when he smiled.  He would then chase me around the house, laughing while I hid. Second, when I was a kid, I had a loose molar. My mother, who is one tough lady,  decided to pull it. She yanked and yanked until it came out. When I went to rinse my mouth out, I noticed there was a lot of blood. Like, enough to make me take a closer look inside my mouth.

She’d pulled the wrong tooth. 

Thankfully, she’d pulled a baby tooth, but it was a baby tooth that hadn’t been loose before, so I had a vacant lot in my mouth for a looong time.

Anyway, Tyler has been freaking me out with his loose front teeth for weeks. This morning, at breakfast, he managed to punch himself in the mouth with a bagel, or something, because when I looked over at him his bagel was covered in blood and he was starting to cry. His gums were dripping blood, but he wouldn’t let me touch him, wouldn’t let me see his mouth, nothing. I did note that the tooth was hanging a good quarter-inch below its neighbors (HORRORS). He said he wanted to go to school, so I put him in the car.

The ride to school was brutal. Tyler refused to close his mouth, his gums were still bleeding, and he looked miserable and watery-eyed.

He hopped out of the car, still doing his best large-mouth bass impression, and trotted off to class.

Tyler called me at 10:30. The class had bagels for snack. Two bites and the tooth finally came out. He asked if I would come get it.

The tooth spent the rest of the day in a baggie in my purse.

Here’s my little snagglepuss:

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Not Without My Hammer II: The Final Front(ier)

The front of our house was, to put it lightly, boring. Like dry-wheat-toast boring. When I bought this house, I convinced myself that I didn’t care what the outside looked like, because who spends time admiring the front of their own house? Besides, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? Didn’t I learn that somewhere?

Anyway, this is what the front of our house looked like from December 2007 until last week:

It turns out that when you’re trying to sell a house, other people DO care what the outside looks like. We had a realtors-only open house a few weeks ago, and without exception they said, “Looking at the front, you’d never know how cute it is on the inside.”

So we got to work (but not in a Rick Scott way). We put up large-scale house numbers. We installed shutters. We painted the front door. We lightly landscaped. We removed the screen door.

And now……

 

We’re not done yet – we want MORE landscaping, but we’re having a hard time finding tall plants that will grow in extremely low sunlight.  But look at how much cuter she is! And the best part: I think the whole thing cost less than $300. If I’d known that, I would have done it years ago.

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Oh, and I almost forgot….

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Sniffle, sniffle, sniffle, HONK

I have started the new year with a cold. There are worse things, I suppose.

2010 ended with a lot of uncertainty for our family. Our house is still on the market (5 months and counting). Market conditions continued to deteriorate through December, but our Realtor assures us that things pick up in the spring. We spent a little money to install shutters and house numbers, and have painted the front door. I’ll post pictures when the weather clears.  New Year’s Resolution: Make peace with the real estate process.

Jason and I didn’t have any of the children for Christmas again this year, so we spent the holiday with my mother and brother. My mom and I get along, but my brother and I have always had a complicated and difficult relationship. This year I got smart and made plans of my own. I set up visits with several friends who I haven’t seen in a decade (or more!). Everyone was just….lovely. New Year’s Resolution: Be better at friend maintenance. Supplemental Resolution: Make peace with family situation.

Jason and his ex had a parental coordinator. At the end of September, the PC facilitated an agreement between Jason and his ex that changed the visitation schedule, and then she resigned. Jason now has 44% of the overnights. According to the law, he is entitled to a 65% reduction in his child support (due to a number of factors – he changed jobs and has to pay the kids’ health insurance, for example). However, he has encountered nothing but empty threats from her attorney, and delays in resolution. They had a hearing set for December 14, but the ex’s attorney canceled it the day before due to a doctor’s appointment. It’s now set for January 11. We may or may not have a final decision at that point, but at least the ball will be rolling.

Happy 2011.

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