Sharing the Reins
By workingberlinmum on June 30, 2011
Today has been a bit of an emotional day. I didn't really realise quite how emotional it would be as I have been pretty much thinking about everything else possible other then this because I just didn't want to face the emotions it would bring to the surface. What am I talking about?! Well, back in April I wrote a post about 'A Truly Momentous Day'. A day in which I told Milo's father that I was prepared to give him shared legal custody of Milo.
For those who didn't read the post and/or don't know the German legal system in regards to child custody; when a child is born to unmarried parents then the mother is automatically issued with full legal custody of that child. If the parents are together and she wants and she wants to give the father joint custody rights (as you would generally in that situation I'd hope), then the parents need to sign a legally binding document saying so, announcing that both parents have 'gemeinsames Sorgerecht' (link in German).
Due to Milo's father's and my rather tumultuous 'relationship' to each other, the fact that we couldn't be in the same room without tension, disagreements, full blown arguments and constant let-downs, I decided to keep full legal custody with the hope that Milo's dad would prove himself willing and open to work with me on the important matters involving our son and his future. The decision not to give him shared legal custody was a big blow for him and it of course caused a huge rift between the two of us and much anger and frustration on his part. It was regularly bought up in arguments and it even came to the point where he was threatening to take me to court in order to fight for it (although the way the system works here, he most likely wouldn't have won).
Following that time we had many discussions, MANY DISCUSSIONS. Some stayed relatively amicable, many ended in tears but somehow we managed to talk and listen to each other enough to discuss what it is I felt I needed from him in order that I would give him joint legal custody. It took a while for him to take the leap to trust me, or at least give me the benefit of the doubt and to try and do what I had asked but he did and things very quickly improved. We were able to be in the same room without fighting. We were able to negotiate times for 'pick up's' and 'drop off's' without the other getting stressed and we were even able to swap tips without thinking the other was questioning our abilities. What a relief! From almost 2 years of arguing, we finally managed to find some way to co-parent and apart from a brief grey period in the last weeks (down to some external influences and probably a bit to do with my nerves about the impending signing of said document), it's been working pretty well.
And so...today the document was signed. It felt really odd. I was pretty stressed just waiting for Milo's dad to arrive and I felt ill with it. I actually felt like I could be sick. Luckily I wasn't. We made our way to the 7th floor, waited for our time to go into the typical bland, folder-filled room and we sat and had the system of 'legal shared custody' explained fully to us. The woman who was dealing with our case was incredibly personable, really sweet, unusual traits for someone in her kind of role here in Germany! At one point she asked me if I am sure I wanted to go ahead with the document telling me that 2 women that day had pulled out of it with cold feet. I told her I was very nervous about it but I wanted to go ahead. I felt like bursting in to tears throughout and was trying my best to hold it all back, only a few tears managing to find their way free. And then it was over. The document was signed and we left. It was so strange. I felt like we should have some big ceremony. Like there should be some sort of official way of celebrating? No, commemorating? Oh I don't know, just something to show that a huge leap had just been made. A terrifying big leap. In usual fashion Milo's dad and I didn't really know what to say to each other. In all honesty I wish we could have had a beer together about it. A chance to talk about how far we've come from this very VERY dark place we were in not so long ago. Of course that wasn't possible, I had to go straight to Milo's Kita (nursery/daycare) to pick him up and in reality, even if I had had the time, I doubt I would have been able to bring myself to say it. To ask him.
It's done now though. It truly is momentous. It truly is emotional and It's something that I never truly thought we would achieve. Having gone straight to pick Milo up and then entertaining him for the last few hours I haven't had the chance to really let the emotion out, to let the tears flow. Now I can. This written, I am going to let those tears out. Just take a couple of minutes and then put that emotion away and look towards hopefully more years of Milo's father and I managing to co-parent in some form of harmony. For Milo.
Please let me know what you think over at my blog. I love to read your comments!
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