“So - while I’ve got you on the phone I’m hoping we can schedule time to talk about our parenting agreement.”
I hold my breath and look up and wonder who decided that divot-filled, cottage cheese ceilings were mandatory in the 1970’s.
He’s silent and so I cover the air with scrambling, futile attempts to sound sunny. Instead I sound like someone has grabbed a human-remote and is starting me, pausing me, stalling and punching me.
“I mean, the in-place agreement has changed, since you’ll be moving here, and we should - well, just so we have proper expectations and Nolan has a routine….” I trail off and hate myself for my meekness when I speak to him, for the guilt I still hold for making a necessary move to save my sanity, my good Motherhood.
He sighs: “I don’t want to talk about this right now.”
“Well, when can we? I am just thinking you have him a minimum once a month, on a weekend, we can be flexible with dates but we should set a -”
“I have to go.”
I hang up the phone and blink, angry at my tears, mad at my emotions. He’s certainly not crying over this. Why should I?
Two years ago, there were two lawyers involved in negotiations on the re-mapping of our lives. I paid my ex some money, we both paid our lawyers money, it was a lot of ugliness and back and forth and thousands of dollars that would be so much better spent on our son’s education, sports lessons. In the end, the agreement was signed off by both of us: once a month, he would fly here to see his son, stay at his parents home close by. Once a month, I would fly to bring his son to him, paying for both of us and any incremental hotel costs. It worked for a year, kind of, but now he’s moving here. I am glad, for my son, but a little alarmed for me. We need to re-negotiate this arrangement, and after more than a year of supporting my son solo, I cannot afford to do it through lawyers.
I know he’d rather leave it up in the air, to just see his son when it was easiest, most convenient. I, however, would like to have set dates, both for our son’s sake and because it’s extraordinarily helpful, mental-health wise, to have a full weekend “off” each month.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that some way, somehow, we can do this without involving lawyers. Any suggestions on how to maintain civility in the re-negotiation of parenting agreements? I’ll write letters or text or do handstands from the ceiling if necessary.