One of the hardest parts about divorce with a child involved comes from custody and visitation arrangements. Joe and I manage pretty well with figuring this stuff out, but there are always issues somewhere!
For some reason the judge is requiring that I fill out forms (an ORDER, as verbiage in the settlement agreement just won’t do!) about which holidays belong to each parent, how many days a week each parent has, and how much support is owed. The bizarre demand for these forms is the main reason why the divorce is not yet finalized. It is frustrating because filling out the extra forms is repetitive. Also, apparently they are not required of everyone so the company I paid to draw up the papers was surprised to have to generate these forms on top of the settlement agreement! Arg! Leave it to the government to make a fairly straight-forward divorce waaaaay more complicated.
I’m not entirely sure how others arrange visitation with their exes. When I was a kid, we went to see my dad every other weekend. That seems like a ridiculously small amount of time to me now. I don’t know how my parents chose that arrangement or why anyone would really. Perhaps it was just a different time, or maybe it’s just that my dad’s lifestyle was less kid-friendly. As a child I disliked this arrangement for a couple of reasons. The first was that I wanted to see my dad more than once every two weeks. In addition, it was difficult to get into a routine when we went so long between visits. By the time the visitation weekend came around, I just wanted to stay home because I felt unused to my dad’s house again. Of course, after the weekend was over I didn’t want to leave.
In any case, the visitation arrangement between Joe and me is mostly based on our work schedules. Unfortunately equal custody was not possible at that point in time as Joe moved an hour away and we wanted to keep Jack’s daycare stable. Joe is a park ranger and his job changes seasonally, as does his schedule. He usually gets one weekday and one weekend day off. I work a typical Monday through Friday 9-5 week with Saturdays and Sundays off. Last summer when we split up, it just seemed to make sense that Joe would take Jack on his days off since they were different than mine and I’d have Jack with me more. This precedent has continued and Jack generally goes to see his dad for 2 days each week – Joe picks Jack up from daycare on Thursday and brings him to my place on his way to work Sunday morning.
We’ve tossed around other arrangement ideas, such as switching every other week, but so far we’ve stuck with what we have. It seems to work well for Jack, so I’m afraid of changing things up. Even so, I always wonder if there is a better way, especially with how things have been going lately. I have Jack five days a week, and four of those days he goes to daycare. I effectively have one day each week where I get to focus on my kid and four days where I’m carting him to and fro and splitting my attention a million different ways. I fully admit that I envy Joe’s two workless days with Jack each week. Not only does Joe get more quality time with Jack, but he also doesn’t have the daily daycare drop-off to deal with or the struggle between needing to rest after work and wanting to enjoy time with his child.
I am not writing this to say “woe is me” with regard to how things have worked out. I know that it is incredibly lucky to have things running so smoothly in a divorce situation. This is just an area that was difficult to imagine prior to the separation and I feel the need to put it into words. At any given time one of us is losing out on time with an individual we love and need desperately. We are happier and healthier than we were a year ago, but one of us is always missing something.