Joint Custody is a court order whereby custody of a child is awarded to both parties. In joint custody both parents are custodial parents and neither parent is a non-custodial parent, or, in other words, the child has two custodial parents.
That’s a nice way of putting it. Here is the real definition:
Joint Custody is a way for two parents to argue constantly over who is doing more and who the other believes is more happy. The pinnacle of these fights usually begin around tax season time when one parent believes they did more for the other. The time when these fights seem to dissolve is around the child’s birthday when the two must unite in some way to have their child at their happiest moments. Both parents whole-heartedly believe that what they are doing individually is best for the child. Both parents answer to single parent issues and know that even though their child may suffer from time to time, everyone is happiest apart.
For the past two and a half years I have been a single mother not only on paper, but also in real life. In some fantasy world my baby daddy believes this means parenthood is a constant competition. Tonight I put a stop (at least for some time) to this ridiculousness. Basically, he was complaining because our son had the same sweatshirt on two school days in a row. OK. I can see that if you lived in a white picket fence world this is fine. However, I don’t. We don’t. I live in the city with sky-rocket high rent, bills galore, and in some months paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. Other months, it’s wonderful. It just all depends on what consequence my new self must serve because of the madness I lived for over a decade. AKA bills I forgot about six years ago and now they found me. Yup. Happens all the time.
I had to take a deep breath, because Mercury Retrograde has really gotten to me today and I responded with, “Some days I can’t wake up. It literally takes every single part of me to move out of my bed, dress Kai for school, pack him lunch, dress myself, and drive him to school on time.” I think back to a few years ago where my structure was completely out of whack and I couldn’t even do that. Baby Daddy hasn’t resided with me in so long I guess he had forgotten. I needed to remind him. Now in a “normal” relationship’s custody battles and conversations, this would be possibly insane to hear. But for me, I have come a long way.
Only a few years back I didn’t do my laundry. Still I struggle with that. Easy = struggle. Difficult = all too familiar pain I can deal with. I’m unsure of why that is exactly with me. Instead of being hard on myself and constantly thinking I’m a fuck-up and a loser, I need to pat myself on the back and reward myself for the smaller things in life. Because all of these small responsibilities add up to a big deal.
Setting healthy boundaries with those around me, people I love and people I don’t, is so important with my mental illness. With an illness like bipolar where you just shoot up and down like a jumping bean, I need to structure my life in schedule and in relationships.
When he responded back to me he was quite calm and said that he did forget and he doesn’t understand. He only understands reality. That pained me to hear because even after all of these years he still doesn’t get it. I don’t know why I honestly believe that people without the illness will ever fucking get it. Because they will never. Until you go through darkness and euphoria, you will never truly know what it feels like to have this
curse blessing disease. He did promise, however, to be more understanding and more supportive of me emotionally. He said he will always be there for me. That made me tear up a little bit and almost miss him. Nope. Can’t go down that path again. I said, “Thank you,” and hung up the phone.
I will continue to try my hardest as a single, bipolar mother, but it’s never going to be easy. Ever. I’ve accepted that. I wish there was a manual of some sort.