Sometimes co-parenting makes me crazy. I ask myself what was so bad about my marriage that I would create a relationship that takes my son away from me part-time. It's as if a huge pair of hands grabs hold of my head and shakes the contents of my brain, scrambling every thought and choice, leaving me wondering if I've ruined everything.
Being a co-parent has meant being separated from my child at least half of the time, and now that my ex has full custody of our son, our time apart is even greater. Any co-parent can explain that working and raising children alone just don't mix. Some form of childcare is mandatory, but childcare is nothing to sneeze at in our country. In many cities, childcare is as expensive as rent, and for a single adult, paying for childcare can break the bank.
I run these scenarios through my head over and over again. Who can be home while I'm at work? Why does it feel like I'm choosing between my child and my work? How do other parents, especially other single parents, afford childcare, rent, home expenses and everything else that is needed?
My son tells his father that he misses me and wants to see me, but his solution is for me to come to his dad's house and spend time there.
I'm constantly trying to come up with a better way to manage it all. And although the current solution, which has my son living full-time with his dad, works in many ways, it leaves me separated from my son for days at a time. Yes, I pick up the phone and call often, and yes, I make plans to see my son as often as possible. But the problem goes beyond my scope of solutions.
Regularly, my son tells his father that he misses me and wants to see me, but his solution is for me to come to his dad's house and spend time there. He asks that I come and spend the night, yet when my son is at my house, he spends 90 percent of that time asking to return to his father's. It's enough to make me wish I could rip my head off completely; I'm talking sever it from the neck and throw it far away, so I don't have to keep hearing the thoughts it holds.
Then I had an idea, and it was as if the phone just dialed itself. I called my son's father without thinking too much about the question and all that it might suggest. Although we were currently in a very good place, it hadn't always been this cordial and kind between us.
"What do you think of us living together?" I asked when he answered.
He was silent, but I could feel his thoughts churning about in his head. "What do you mean?"
"We live together, the three of us—me, you, and Zion. And you keep your girlfriend. This isn't about getting back together. This is a solution to being a single parent in a city where it costs an arm and a leg to live alone and provide for a child."
"You sound crazy," he said calmly.
"I know I do, because I am crazy. I'm crazy trying to figure out how to work and be a parent. I want to see my son at night when I come home from work. I want to kiss him while he's asleep. I don't want to worry about him while I'm working. And I don't want to use my entire paycheck for childcare."
"It's a bad idea," he said.
"OK, I just had to get it out."
We hung up the phone. I continued to drive. And possible solutions continued to filter through my mind like my car moving up the highway. From lane to lane, exit after exit, it will eventually get me where I desire to be. A solution will come. I'm certain of it. In due time.