As you all know, we are moving 3 hours north to Seattle in about a month. Most of you also know that I have a 9 year old son from my first marriage.
My ex-husband and I have been divorced for 7 years, and during that time, we have worked hard to maintain a good relationship for our son. We talk daily, host birthday parties together, have family discussions regarding any major problems that may come up, and just really try and make our son understand that even though we are no longer married, we still care about one another. We have also shared custody of our son the whole time. Mason is with me Monday and Tuesday, with my ex Wednesday and Thursday, and every Friday-Sunday alternates. This has worked out great for us and we've never discussed changing the arrangement.
But when Jay and I made the decision to move, we knew that this was going to be a major issue. I was pretty positive that my ex would not let Mason go without a fight, but I hoped that if I offered enough visitation to him, he would give in eventually. After I told him and offered up more than fair visits and asked for no child support, he turned me down and said we should contact attorneys.
Wow. I knew that this was a possibility, but I had really hoped to not have to go through with that. I mean, we didn't even have attorneys when we got divorced. But I made an appointment for the next day, wrote down my purposed parenting plan, and went to the meeting. I was encouraged by her response that since my husband and I have Mason's only siblings, she was positive we would get custody. She had yet to lose a custody case like ours because judges just won't break up a sibling relationship, especially with a stay at home mother.
My ex called and asked for a meeting with my husband and I and his fiance. So Saturday afternoon, we met them and listened to what they had to say. They said their offer was to let Mason live with them for a year, I would get 1-2 weekends a month, and every school break. After 1 year, we would meet again to re-evaluate the situation. Jay and I were stunned at their lack of effort. 1-2 weekends a month, and they got him during the week. It took all I had to not throw my water bottle at his fiance. Jay explained what our attorney had said about the siblings and the fact that we had a set family already. They didn't care and the meeting quickly ended.
I have been a nervous wreck since first speaking with my ex, and I just couldn't shake this feeling that this just felt wrong. We have moved 2 times in a year and a half, and last year, Mason went to 2 different schools. Now I was asking him to move to yet another school, live with his grandmother until we got a house, and then maybe move again?
Sunday morning, I woke up and just felt unsettled. While I was taking a shower, I made a decision. I got dressed, went and told my husband what I was going to do, then called my ex and asked him to meet me in 30 minutes.
When he showed up, I told him that what I offered him, I would like to take. I would let Mason stay with him during the week. Mason would return to his favorite school (it also happens to be one of the best schools in the Portland metro area). I would get Mason 3 weekends a month, every Christmas break (2 weeks), every Spring break (1 week), and 6 weeks however I chose to take them in the summer. All holidays go along with our existing parenting plan. I will not pay child support, but cover his medical, and 70% of the medical bills. Basically, I get my son during all his time off from school so he won't be in daycare, and I don't have to fight with him about homework.
I know it seems to some people that I gave up, but I don't think that at all. My son wants to go back to his old school with his friends, so why should I take him from that. He has a great dad who coaches his soccer team. And when I get him, I can focus on hanging out with him. Not school work or soccer practice or some other lesson. And since he'll be around on weekends, he will be able to go to the family picnics and birthday parties. If he came with me, he would never get to do that stuff.
And you know what, after watching my parents go through their divorce, I made a promise to myself that I would never go to battle over something I knew we could work out if we were creative. My ex and I have worked too hard to build a good foundation to tear it down and say horrible things to each other in court.
So even though I will miss my son during the week, I know that when I get him back on the weekends or during his school breaks, it will be a happy time for us all. He will get to enjoy his family.
When I told him yesterday afternoon, he was very excited. He was also very sad. He understands that he won't see us daily, and he was very upset about that. But I explained to him how much I would see him, and that by staying here, he could go back to his old school and be with his friends, and even go back to his old soccer team. He knows I love him and that was a very hard thing for mommy to do.
I know I did what was right for my son. And that is all that matters to me.