Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Custody & Visitation: Transportation "Responsibilities"

I waved as I drove past the house. 
Their waves were as much an expression of their gratitude as much as their happiness.
Five minutes later my cell phone rang.
Hi WSM. I wanted to thank you again for driving Cinderella here. I know you are now rushing to make it to your appointment but I really, REALLY appreciate it.
"Oh, it's no problem really."
Well, I am grateful because I know you didn't *have* to do it.

Maleficent was right. 
Legally transportation for her visitation days is not my responsibility. Court documents put the onus entirely on her shoulders.
And then there's the "all-of-the-responsibilities-none-of-the-rights" argument that plagues stepparents. 
Technically I didn't have to drive Cinderella anywhere. But emotionally. Morally, I *had* to. 
Ten minutes earlier my 11 year old stepdaughter was in tears after just learning that her mother would not be able to pick her up for one of their twice weekly visits. 
I was heading out anyway. So what was the big deal to leave 10 minutes earlier?
Are you sure? I don't want you to have to take the kids out in this [rainy] weather. 
"It's no big deal. Hansel and I have a 5:30 chiropractor appointment so we were leaving in a few minutes."
But will that make you late for your appointment? I just feel so terrible, we hate to lose time with each other and I had no idea I would be stuck without a car but my time with her is so preshus already... but are you sure you don't mind? Will the doctor's office take if you you are late?
(Well if you stop ASKING me if I was sure and let me GET OFF THE PHONE DAMMIT I will be able to make my appointment.  My moments of compassion and empathy for you are fleeting, woman. Don't make me lose sight of WHO I am doing this for by making it all about you.)

I was late. But who cares. I called ahead to the chiropractor's office and there was no problem.
Maleficent thanked me profusely on the phone, in her maniacal waves as I drove away and then again when she called me on my cell as I was rushing to our appointment in between reaming Prince Charming a new one for not listening to his voice mail sooner.
But most importantly, Cinderella was happy.
I may not be responsible for the visitation transportation, but I am responsible for her happiness.
In the end, that's all that matters.


Smiling, Beguiling said...

G-d woman! How I appreciate this post. I just broke it off w/ my nearly two year old daughters dad a month ago. He hasn't made any murmuring about what kind of custody arrangements he wants, if any. We live in CA, he lives in Las Vegas. Am I really going to be responsible for getting her to him? Especially if we move to Austin like I plan? She's not even two, he lives w/ a 26 year old guy who uses drugs & alcohol irresponsibly. Do I really HAVE to allow him visits? I'm so glad I'm not the only one struggling w/ these Q's. You rock! Carry on sister, Cheryl

Sprite said...

You *know* what's important and did the right thing, hon, despite how lyrically crazy M. is. Good for you! Ummm.. can PC sit yet? lol *hugs*

Wicked Stepmom said...


This was not always the case with regards to transportation. We have been thru many iterations of the custody and visitation agreement.

In the beginning, Prince Charming and Maleficent were prohibited from moving more than 1 hour away from one another. They used to meet halfway for pick ups/drops offs of, then, 3 y/o Cinderella. Then PrinceCharming had to do all of the picking up/dropping off for their shared custody.

When he became the primary custodial parent, PC insisted that Maleficent be responsible to picking up and dropping off for her visitation days. This arrangement works fine for us now as we live close to one another.

Obviously, this kind of arrangement might not work for you. You and your ex will need to try and work out a reasonable visitation schedule together - if possible - always keeping in mind what's best for your little one. Whatever that may be.

Best of luck to you!

Smiling, Beguiling said...

Totally agree that what is best for Dex comes first. I never put her dad on the Birth Certificate b/c at the time he wasn't in our life. He asked that I do so after we became a couple, but I never did for many reasons. Now I'm thinking it was a good thing b/c he has NEVER paid child support, never bought diapers, paid for doc visits, daycare, medications, food, etc. Not even once. I don't see how he would have a right to dictate terms of visitation, though of course I wouldn't deny Declan the opportunity to see her dad. That's not cool on my part, just would prefer it be on MY terms. We'll see. He hasn't said word one about what he wants since we broke up. He has 2 other kids w/ an ex-wife that lives in NV. He is up to his ears in trouble w/ that situation. It's possible he'll just fade away & this won't even become an issue I have to deal with.

canape said...

"I may not be responsible for the visitation transportation, but I am responsible for her happiness.
In the end, that's all that matters."

I so understand this. What a great way to put it.

Anonymous said...

Their happiness IS what's most important. It can be hard to remember / see through the smog of feigned concern for our wellbeing from the BM. I have tried to remember that after drives from Texas to Illinois ... through the snow at times (I am a southerner and didn't have a clue what to do about snow) - many times alone besides SD due to hubby's work schedule.

It is hard sometimes ... I truly mean that. I try to remember the saying "A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was,the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child....
... Forest Witcraft"

mathcutie said...

My ex and I operate under the "you want him, you come get him" rule. It works good because I never have to wait around for son to come home, and usually ex is working late, so son gets to stay home with me instead of sitting with dad at work. This was not a court appointed directive, just something that works for us.

Lani said...

You are a better person than I. I can't even count the times biomom has been late or made me late...it drives me crazy. I dread it when the phone rings before she is supposed to arrive at our place. Sooo frustrating.