I am sitting in a pile of boxes awaiting a moving van. Things are about to change and once again I am contemplating how to parent a teenager post divorce.
Two years ago, I moved into an apartment a few hundred feet from the suburban family house I once shared with my now Unhusband. Our 17-year old daughter split time between the two households, which is to say she favored the family house because. Because! With a demanding high school schedule, and everything she needs within arm’s reach at the family house, it was hard to convince her away from the routines she had carved throughout the majority of her life.
My Unhusband. I refer to him in this way since ex seems a very moot point considering our lives are forever entangled through our two children, and the bonds we share through decades of a marriage. For me, the term Unhusband also represents a willingness to think outside of the box when reinventing our relationships. The fact remains we will always be a family of four, although without a marriage at the center of it.
Our original plan regarding custody of our one remaining minor when divorcing was this: we had no plan, original or otherwise. But we did know what we didn’t want to do: we didn’t want to force a schedule that felt punishing and diminishing to our very responsible daughter. With a very fluid calendar in mind, we thought we could prevail over a more rigid Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday every other weekend directive.
It didn’t work as we thought.
The lesson learned was you can’t place a teenager in charge of their own custody — it’s an unfair responsibility to decide where they want to be and when.
Which is why we’re about to make the same mistake again!
I chose to move into the city twenty minutes from our family house in order to be close to work. And for burgeoning friendships. And for everything. The downside is now the very same teenage daughter, mine, who wasn’t fond of breaking routine in order to stay with me only blocks from home, will now have to drive twenty minutes to reach me on a highway. And more importantly, she will have to wake earlier in order to drive back toward her blisteringly early high school morning.
Opinions were divided regarding my decision to leave my leafy suburb since my daughter still has two years remaining of school — which translates to mean two years of inconvenience for her.
But a strange thing happened on the way to this difficult decision. Many things that were broken about our schedule and the difficulties of establishing a more proper custody within proximity, have remedied with the newfound excitement of my daughter and I spending time together in the city.
Often the correct decision is wrapped in something more impossible. It takes bravery and willingness, and the desire to have each other’s backs across many unanticipated but welcomed situations.