For those of you who know me, what follows is yet another “Anna” story…of sorts…For those of you who don’t , sorry to take up your time.
For all you single parents out there, maybe this node should be titled “Splitting Time Over the Holidays.” For me though, (yes, a single parent and spiteful as it might sound) I’d like to call it “ The Day Borgo Beat (or at least held his own with) the Lawyer.”
Ah yes, the holiday season is upon us.(I can tell because I finally saw the ads for the perennial favorites such as Chia Pets and The Clapper) For the vast majority of us they are stressful enough already. What, with everything from gift getting, gift-wrapping, decorating, cooking, travel arrangements, family considerations, etc, etc, etc, its no wonder people tend to get a little edgy. For those us who are single parents of little ones, the matter is often compounded by the simple fact that “junior” or “juniorette” will be spending significantly more time with one of you than the other. Yes, I know all of those gory details should have been spelled out precisely in your divorce/dissolution decree but the simple fact of the matter is that things change. People do strange things such as re-marry, take new jobs, and/or move away. There might be additional births to be celebrated and deaths to be mourned. All of these events (and many more) might have an effect on any prior arrangements the two of you might have made. A little advice. Put any matters of personal pride and/or ego aside and try to stay flexible. More importantly, try to do what’s best for your kid.
Case in point. I got home from work yesterday and was fortunate enough to get a Christmas card in the mail from my eight year old. I decided to give her a call and offer up my thanks along with any other conversation that might arise such as school, friends, holiday parties, etc. My ex-wife, (the lawyer in this story) picked up the phone and told me she wanted to speak with me after I got through with my daughter.
Uh-oh…Borgo’s radar goes up
Now, we normally have what can best be described as a cordial relationship. Personal matters such as love life, finances and other affairs of the heart are strictly taboo. Our conversations usually revolve around our joint responsibilities with our daughter and how to best raise her. Given the circumstances, I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far. But I digress…
After speaking with my kid my ex got on the phone in order to discuss this years holiday “arrangements”. They were decidedly one-sided. Normally I take my kid on a week on/week off basis and Christmas week happened to fall during my time frame. Naturally I wasn’t going to keep to this. (Try explaining to an eight year old that she can’t see her mommy/daddy on Christmas Day because of some legalities in your divorce agreement, good luck!) I wanted to work something out along the lines that we had followed in years past, a pretty even amount of time of time split between the two of us.. My ex had other ideas…
Since she had subsequently re-married and had family coming to town she wanted to take her sometime early on Christmas Eve and spend the day with them. She would drop her off at my place at around 10:00 PM or so after Christmas Eve services. She would then pick her up around noon on Christmas Day in order to go to her husbands family and celebrate the day with them. Now, maybe I’m an idiot but I do know how to tell time and that meant I’d get to see my kid for all of a couple of hours or so. I cried foul!
Me:“Since when do you go to Christmas services, you’re an atheist for crying out loud!”
Ex “Well, (insert new husbands name here) thought it might be nice if the two families got together and went to mass.”
Don’t get me wrong, I like (insert new husbands name here), my kid likes (insert new husbands name here), he’s been nothing but a good stepfather to her but he was now treading on some pretty sacred ground.
Me: “Put him on the phone.”
Its at this point where I got an explanation about how he wasn’t home. My ex then went on about how much work her side of the family, namely her mother, was doing in preparation for the holidays and how disappointed she would be if my daughter didn’t spend the day with them. I like my ex’s mom, she’s a good grandmother and I tried not to seem selfish but….
I explained to my ex that while I certainly sympathized with her position, these arrangements just wouldn’t do. I felt I was being left out of the equation. More importantly, my daughter was being left of the equation too. (For those of you who don’t know me by now, we are very close.).
Well, after much haggling (remember, she’s a lawyer) a far more equitable solution was arrived at. The time is now divided up pretty evenly and while it doesn’t represent the ideal situation for either of us, we managed to work something out that kept the best interests of our child in mind.
Just a few random thoughts….
I really don’t know what my ex was expecting when we divorced many years ago.. Maybe she figured that I’d be content to be the typical every other weekend kinda single father and give up the week on/week off arrangement that has worked so well (for me at least) over the years. Just keep paying the child support so I that I don’t have a guilty conscience. Maybe she figured I’d get tired of it, ya know, move on to bigger and better things. Well, there are no bigger and better things. The time spent with my kid is time I’ll never be able to replace. Over the years I’ve learned more about myself from her than I could ever imagine and for that I’m grateful, Maybe that’s her Christmas gift to me. I sure hope so because it just keeps on giving.
With that in mind, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, or just plain ol’ seasons greetings to all you noders out there, past, present and future.