Surprise! I'm a single parent

more on shared parenting or – my deepest fears
May 14, 2008, 2:03 am
Filed under: environment

When we split up all I wanted was to get out out out. So I was prepared to deal on anything – anything! I just wanted out. And one of the things I agreed about was shared care.

Part of me thought shared care would be a good idea. My ex has a (now grown) son who he never parented and in part this was because he only saw his son every 4 weeks for a weekend. His son is a lovely guy but it’s not really got anything to do with his dad in a practical sense. My ex never was much of a pareant to my kids- in fact he was completely not a parent. I thought well, if I’m not around he will probably take more responsibility.

Recently I went away for a week and my girls stayed with their dad. What we all leant from this I think is the terrific survival skills they have, the fact that I have good neighbors and, you’ll be very bored with this repetitive theme: what a great mum I have. He disappeared frequently and didn’t tell the kids where he was going or when he’d be back, he didn’t feed them, and he left them at my place (alone) to graze from the fridge and watch tv (or maybe they broke in its not entirely clear).

Hmmmm. So they ate noodles and cheese on toast and then just toast and the canned stuff. They contacted my friend and neighbor when they needed help and my mother too. Good kids. They didn’t bother me cos they thought I’d worry. They were right!

The understanding is that eventually when he is organised we will do shared care. Right now he has them every second weekend. I figure not too much can go wrong every second weekend. At first I worried he’d be a santa clause daddy that they’d be getting late nights and sugar and fun trips from while I’d be the ogre mother coming in with the healthy food and bed time rules. Needn’t have worried at all. Turns out kids like regular meals more than random sugar.

Will he do structure and bed time when he has them more often? Oh bugger it – Will they be happy/ secure? And a biggie – how on earth can we inflict a lifestyle where they have to pack up and move every week or two weeks? I wouldn’t like that.

Maybe I don’t need to worry. Its been a year since I said yes and there’s still no sign of shared care happening. Maybe its something he likes to say he does rather than something that actually happens. Like his words used to say ‘I love you’ but his actions showed otherwise. Maybe shared care will never happen. I know as long as we have theoretical shared care that he doesn’t need to pay child support and I suspect that’s part of it. And what’s really scarey about this scepticism I have about why shared care isn’t actually happening is that if I’m right then he just isn’t ever really going to be there for the kids.

It’s such a middle class white bread luxury dilemna. I worry about passive neglect when he has them and frankly I don’t worry that much – they are really sensible kids. And I worry that they don’t have a quality Dad. Maybe I  don’t need to worry. They will just get more organised. And they will probably assert themselves aroudn what they want. They are pretty good at that now.

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