Our arrangement for my son while my ex is away

As you may recall from my earlier post, my ex-husband is voluntarily going on a “secondment” (a temporary move to a different job for the same company) to a foreign country for a couple of years, leaving me as a single parent.

This sucks ass beyond belief.

Those of you I talk to off this blog know that my last two weeks have been exceedingly difficult. I had the issues with Johnny (and I’m still working through that fallout), and then this was bomb was dropped on me. I focussed on writing about old drama to keep myself busy, but knowing my sweet child is about to get his heart-broken is a constant buzzing in my ears (and I already have tinnitus so really, it’s not helpful).

Yes, I’m using the language of war. At times, I’m known to use strong language to get my feelings across. This is one of those times.

There have been many, many conversations between me and my ex. He accused me of not being a “partner to him in all this”, and “kicking him in the nuts during every conversation”. The former wasn’t true, the latter absolutely was. I told him I was furious with him and was not about to tell him his decision was okay.  I will continue to be angry off and on, for a long time. I’m sure the first time my son melts down because he can’t see his Dad, I will be angry. Every time I see permanent damage from feeling abandoned, I will be angry.

It won’t go away.

How do I know? The same thing was done to me, at pretty much the same age. I see my mother facing this happening to her beloved grandchild in the same way it happened to her daughter. Except my Dad left to “chase a woman”, it turns out.

But, I have also realized that carrying the anger toward my ex around like a badge is not helpful. For sure, I’m angry, and at some level always will be. But I have to move on. The best thing for my son is to have a Mom around who is not bitter.  Frustration and resentment can seep out of your pores like nothing else.

My ex and I had lunch last Thursday and hammered out our agreement. We didn’t have alcohol, but otherwise it was similar to writing up our separation agreement.  We had some laughs, we clarified language, and this is what we came up with:

[Child] Care during the Secondment Period

  • The goal is to make the Secondment Period as positive as possible, and to (as reasonably as possible) minimize the amount of change that [Child] will need to address given [Ex]’s move to [foreign country].
  • We agree that [Child] will move his full-time residence with Ann in [city] on [street].
  • [Ex] and Ann will endeavour to arrange for family (as first choice) or use of a dedicated caregiver ([Nanny] or otherwise jointly agreed) for overnight care for [Child] in the event that Ann is travelling and where [Child] is not accompanying her.
  • [Ex] will compensate Ann up to a maximum of $xx per month for additional childcare expenses throughout the Secondment period.
  • We will endeavour to retain as equal a distribution of time with [Child] between Ann and [Ex] as possible given the change in circumstance, with understanding that time will be spent with Ann on a day to day basis while [Ex] is on Secondment Period
  • [Ex] will be in [City] from Friday after school through to Sunday evening at least 1x per month and [Child] will stay with him during that period. [Ex]’s objective is to have 2 or more weekends in [City], but cannot be confirmed at this time.
  • [Ex] will spend Christmas in [City]
  • We agree that [Ex] will have arranged regular vacation time with [Child], in addition to weekends noted above, and [Child] will be full time with [Ex] during that period. While exact dates cannot be confirmed at this time, as a general approach, current plans are: At least 1 week per calendar Winter, Spring and Fall Quarters, and 3 consecutive weeks during the Summer.
  • To help manage the transition we agree that [Ex] will also spend 1 additional week between October and November of 2014 in [City] and that [Child] will be full time with [Ex] during that period.
  • [Child] can visit [Ex] in [Foreign Country] or other work location on an unrestricted basis as long as trip is agreed to by [Ex] and Ann in advance.
  • [Ex] will provide [Child] with an iPad or equivalent for communication purposes (locking down some other features for parenting, safety and security purposes) and will pay all costs associated with the device.
  • [Child] and [Ex] will continue to have unrestricted access to each other as each desires via iPad, phone, video or other means as either would like.
  • [Ex] supports [Child]’s ongoing time spent with [Ann’s parents]
  • Ann supports [Child]’s ongoing and increased time (i.e. Weekends and potentially week night events) with [Ex’s parents and sister].
  • Aligned to the goal as keeping as many things the same for [Child] as possible, both Ann and [Ex] support [Child] continuing to have access and spend time with friends and/or family and that neither [Ex] or Ann will not restrict reasonable access to these people;
  • [Child] will know and will be provided a calendar of time he will be with which parent / family / friends, etc.

 [Ex’s House]

  • [Ex] intends to retain the property at [Ex’s house] as is (s/t removal of items for transport to [Foreign Country] or renovations to maintain, improve or invest in the property as desired by [Ex]).
  • The goal is to maintain a residence for [Child] on [Ex’s Street] while [Ex] is on Secondment, understanding that this goal may change at a later date.
  • [Ex] commits to retaining [Ex’s house] for a period not less than 6 months.
  • [Child] retains unrestricted access to [Ex’s house] for lunches, visits, or getting any of his possessions during the school year as long as he accompanied by [Nanny] or Ann.

So, while this is incredibly emotional and difficult for me, I’m proud of myself. That we can take steps to figure it out and do what’s best for our son (after his decision, which is decidedly not best for our son). That I can find a way to not be constantly angry and sad. That despite everything, my ex and I can talk, and laugh, and still be partners in this crazy mixed-up world of ours.

0 thoughts on “Our arrangement for my son while my ex is away

  1. Divorce always sucks for the child involved.
    Well done for insisting that contact between father and his child remain in place via I pad and visitation. I know that is not exactly ideal – but you have done your utmost best in the interest of your child.
    Unfortunately you can’t make choices for other people (i.e. your EX)

    I wish all the best to you, in this new situation.

  2. As a father, I’m very disappointed in your ex’s decision.

    The best thing you can do for you child is to be strong if/when he develops issues with his father not being around. Even though his father has made a horrible decision it’s important for him to come to that realization on his own without you saying so. It sucks, but it’s something I had to do for my step-daughter when she had issues with her dad moving three states away and never visiting or calling her. And it absolutely blew when she broke down and cried and there was nothing I or her mother could do to fix it.

    Anyhow, at least stay strong in his presence even if it means you break down after he goes to sleep.

    I’ll step off my high horse now…sorry if this is kinda preachy.

    • Preachy is okay, TD… I appreciate the support. I’m disappointed in his decision as well. On the douchebag scale, at least he’s committed to trying to make as much as possible better, given his decision. If I think about my wonderful sensitive little guy, and how bonded he is to his Daddy, however, I lose it…

  3. I am impressed and awed by you complete ability to put aside your feelings and create such a child focused plan. You should be incredibly proud of yourself!

    • Thanks! We set a good precedent with our separation agreement, so we had a good baseline. It’s difficult when I fundamentally disagree with his decision, but I absolutely know that carrying bitterness and anger around isn’t going to do any good either. I’m not trying to repress it – I’ve been quite clear how I feel, and I have my moments with friends and family where I can vent – but I can’t keep harping on it over and over, either.

  4. As parents we’re used to sacrifice, right, Ann?
    That having been said, it doesn’t get any easier, does it?
    I’m proud of you. Good luck.

  5. I think the fact that you can put your emotions to one side and hammer out an agreement like that for the best thing for child – you’re definitely doing something right.

    It’s a fucked decision that he’s made but you can only do what you can do and that’s what you’re doing.

What do you think?