Sharing custody.

My ex partner and I are both moms to a beautiful 13 year old daughter. She is the joy and light of our lives, and in the process of breaking up, moving out and moving on, we are coparenting as effectively as we can. Our daughter seems to be getting a bit better with each passing day, and we are learning as we go along how much to allow her to guide the process, how much to make the decisions ourselves, and how to best care for her all the time.

However, we also share other “children” between the two of us, and since I was the one of us that left the home that we shared, she has remained behind with most of the family pets. At the time of our breakup, we had two dogs, five cats, two guinea pigs, and a tank full of fish. I was able to bring two cats with me to my new home, but was only able to get one of them to cooperate and want to leave. The rest of the pets have stayed with her.

We have worked together as much as possible, on taking care of the pet’s needs, walking the dogs and caring for the litter box, and other tasks around it. However, she has had the majority of the daily responsibility since she is there in the house. It can be pretty overwhelming.

Two weeks ago, we had to go to have one of our dogs put to sleep. Thankfully, she included me in that ending, which I was so grateful for. I would not have wanted to share that moment with anyone else, and I knew that the grief we both expressed could be fully understood by one another. However, the doggy left behind has been so lonely for her sister. It has been a difficult two weeks.

Today, I got to have her come visit me at my new home. Allowing her to come here has not been an easy decision for my ex, for reasons that only she knows. However, today she wanted me to have her, and it truly was a shared custody experience. She met me and I took her in my car, and off we went. We came to my house, she had some carrots and water to drink, said hi to the cat, and then we went to the park, and she tired herself right out. It felt right, and loving for her to be here with me, and sad for her sister who never got to see my new home.

Breaking up, and relationships ending, has so much pain, anger and sadness in it. There is always reasons to not get along and for the issues to create strain. However, it is comforting and heartening to know that there is a place where we can come together, care for our loved ones, and work as a team. I think it represents a bridge of healing for both of us. At least, it does for me.


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