*While together as a couple, my ex and I rarely agreed on anything and our relationship was not much of a relationship. We weren’t friends, we didn‘t relate, and there was no give and take. We eventually realized that after trying all types of glue nothing would hold us together. We had two beautiful children who, at the time, were aged of 2.5 and 4, and we both felt that it was better go our separate ways before the kids got any older. Our split was very amicable and there was no abuse or trauma involved, so it was relatively easy. We verbally agreed to equally share custody since we both wanted to see them the same amount of time. It seemed to me that the lack of relationship that had caused us to part had started to come together.
We also agreed on the amount of child support I was going to receive each month. I wasn’t aware that it was legally supposed to be much more than what we had agreed on, but the amount was enough for me at the time, and it was agreed that it would be discussed again after a while. Well, four years passed and the amount did not increase, not even after I made a few attempts to discuss this and I started to wonder if it ever would. Truthfully, I lived in a bit of fear wondering if I should rock that boat or not. After all, the boat was floating nicely and no one was complaining of sea-sickness or even grabbing for a life jacket. The fear I had was fear of what it might do to the integrity of the boat. And let’s face it I could’ve rocked that boat. I could have sunk that ship. I could’ve been that bitch he was waiting for me to be.
Finally, the day came when I grew a set of balls and marched myself into a lawyer’s office and asked what my rights were as a single parent. The lawyer told me news that I wasn’t all that surprised about and I was left to make a choice. I could either let my ex know that he needed to start paying me more or a lawyer was going to get involved and it wasn’t going to be fun. I confronted my ex and, needless to say, it didn’t go as I had hoped – which wasn’t really a surprise, now that I had woken up from my daydream. I had pictured him handing me over a sweepstakes cheque a la Ed McMahon and then walking straight to the bank with all my money. That didn’t happen. After a twenty minute discussion with my ex, reality woke me up again, and I drove home wondering what to do. He said that he would think about things but that he had his own expenses and that an extra five-hundred dollars a month would not be something he could handle.
About an hour later, I got a phone call from him – a really nice phone call. He told me he could help me. He said he could do whatever I needed except for handing me over a cheque for the amount I quoted him. He said he could do whatever I needed in terms of helping out with picking up kids if I needed to work extra hours or giving me extra to buy clothes or food. And truthfully, this conversation started making me feel better. An hour ago I was seriously thinking that the next time we’d see each other would be in a court room. But did I really want to go down that road?
Things had been pretty good over the past 4 years. The kids were happy and they had everything they needed. They participated in activities, went on trips, and they weren’t suffering in the least. This thought of needing to get revenge or get what’s mine started to dissipate. That wasn’t what mattered to me. I teetered on that for a while, but when I looked at the big picture I knew the answer. To go through a huge stressful court battle that would only be a bad storm to weather was not something I was prepared to do, especially, when the situation was as good as it was or as it could be. I asked myself what mattered (to me) most. The children are happy and have what they need. That is all I need. And so we live on with our lives, and while we may not all be in one boat, we are sailing together without running aground.
About Jen: I am a mother of two kids. I have a son who is 5 and my daughter is 8. They live with me half the time and then with their dad the other. We’ve been apart for about 4 years but have come together in so many ways. We are still a family unit and help each other as best as we can. It’s not how I dreamed it would be, but our kids are thriving and very happy. I work as an Education Assistant to children with special-needs in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I am an amateur, self-taught photographer, an artist, and nature enthusiast. I love my guitar and also plan take up the violin! I feel like I am at a crossroads in life as I will soon be 40 – so many good things are happening and my interests are expanding. Life is just beginning!
*I have created TDP – Your Stories as a safe space for readers to share about life as double parent. I’m calling this space “Your Stories” because I hope many of you will be share your stories, questions, inspiration, struggles, tears, triumphs etc so that we all may glean from and contribute to the collective wisdom. Please feel free to comment and if you would like to share your story then please contact me by clicking here.