Separate but equal: living arrangements

Parenting in a non-nuclear family is a mix of good and bad, it seems.  It’s nice when one parent is sick and we don’t want to pass it onto our kid – Jack usually stays with the healthy parent while the other convalesces.  When all parents are sick, it gets more complicated but we usually figure something out.  On holidays when daycare is closed, we have four parental figures and chances are that at least one of us is taking the day off or working from home.  Things get sticky when each parent has different rules, but we are navigating this as we go.

Custody and visitation have been fairly easy for us to work out up to now.  We try to maximize Jack’s time with each parent based on work schedules.  We get as close to 50/50 as we can; it usually ends up closer to 60/40, though.  A potential challenge we’ve run into recently is the prospect that we might not all continue to live in the Bay Area.  The economy has been a crapshoot for quite some time and all of Jack’s parents work in different markets and areas (public & private sectors).  Some areas of business are doing okay, while others continue to struggle.  It’s quite possible that this geographic area can’t sustain all at the same time.

We pondered this question earlier this week when the subject of one of the family segments moving to southern California came up.  The implications are mind boggling.  None of us wants to see less of Jack; each home is open to being a primary residence.  A drive between the Bay Area and SoCal is 6-8 hours…that kind of commute for visitation exchanges would no doubt suck for all of us.  A flight is quick but would grow expensive over the year(s).  The 50/50 arrangement would definitely not work (especially once kindergarten is in the picture); we’d all be missing Jack for weeks or months at a time.

I have to say, this is the most difficult issue I’ve faced since the separation.  With effort, we can generally make most things more comfortable and harmonious than when we were married…I don’t think that this is one one of those things.  I can’t help but worry about the impact on all of us.

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