Shared custody…shared toys?

by mssinglemama on March 17, 2008

Kris and I manage to go out on an actual “date” about once a month.

Last night was one of them, our first since Valentine’s Day. But when we do get out it’s always so romantic. There’s some serious anticipation, excitement and then pure giddiness at being out for a

dance_couple1.jpg

 night on the town. Last night we went out to dinner and then danced like crazy people to a jazz funk band. (Oh and the boy can dance). God it was fun. The perfect evening. I know if I weren’t a single mom there’s no way I would be able to appreciate these date nights as much and neither would he.

And although Kris insists that dating a single mom is easier than dating a “clueless young chick” there are still some major, well, how should I put this, differences our men have to endure to be with us. Endure or, should it be enjoy? Hmmmm….depends on the guy and his attitude.

Some of the things a man dating a single mom endures or enjoys:

1. Sitting down on couch and landing on gooey cookie.

2. The baby monitor. I don’t think I need to elaborate here.

3. Limited nights out.

4. Getting slimed. Lots and lots of snot landing or rubbed in the area of your choice, usually a pant leg.

5. Tantrums. Sigh.

6. Schmoozing with the babysitter.

7. Daily recaps of a toddler’s poop consistency.

8. Never, ever getting to sleep in with his girlfriend.

9. Watching fine programs like the Backyardigans, Thomas the Train or Mickey Mouse Club House.

10. Frequent sicknesses.

I could go on. But it makes me realize that Kris, or any man dating a single mom, must really, really love us. I mean how many women can say, “my boyfriend makes my son laugh, listens to me ponder the mysteries of parenthood and doesn’t complain when a pile of snot gets smooshed into his suit.”

This is why I point out (as often as possible) that single moms really do get the best men. Assuming we are choosing the right ones. FYI – if you are a single mom and your man bitches about anything on this list – dump him immediately. But seriously, by default, we get the best of the best. Sigh. I’m all in love and stuff tonight. Total cheese ball.

Thank god for date nights.

[photo credit: http://www.cypressjuniorcotillion.com]

Kris and I manage to go out on an actual “date” about once a month.

Last night was one of them, our first since Valentine’s Day. But when we do get out it’s always so romantic. There’s some serious anticipation, excitement and then pure giddiness at being out for a

dance_couple1.jpg

 night on the town. Last night we went out to dinner and then danced like crazy people to a jazz funk band. (Oh and the boy can dance). God it was fun. The perfect evening. I know if I weren’t a single mom there’s no way I would be able to appreciate these date nights as much and neither would he.

And although Kris insists that dating a single mom is easier than dating a “clueless young chick” there are still some major, well, how should I put this, differences our men have to endure to be with us. Endure or, should it be enjoy? Hmmmm….depends on the guy and his attitude.

Some of the things a man dating a single mom endures or enjoys:

1. Sitting down on couch and landing on gooey cookie.

2. The baby monitor. I don’t think I need to elaborate here.

3. Limited nights out.

4. Getting slimed. Lots and lots of snot landing or rubbed in the area of your choice, usually a pant leg.

5. Tantrums. Sigh.

6. Schmoozing with the babysitter.

7. Daily recaps of a toddler’s poop consistency.

8. Never, ever getting to sleep in with his girlfriend.

9. Watching fine programs like the Backyardigans, Thomas the Train or Mickey Mouse Club House.

10. Frequent sicknesses.

I could go on. But it makes me realize that Kris, or any man dating a single mom, must really, really love us. I mean how many women can say, “my boyfriend makes my son laugh, listens to me ponder the mysteries of parenthood and doesn’t complain when a pile of snot gets smooshed into his suit.”

This is why I point out (as often as possible) that single moms really do get the best men. Assuming we are choosing the right ones. FYI – if you are a single mom and your man bitches about anything on this list – dump him immediately. But seriously, by default, we get the best of the best. Sigh. I’m all in love and stuff tonight. Total cheese ball.

Thank god for date nights.

[photo credit: http://www.cypressjuniorcotillion.com]

Kris and I manage to go out on an actual “date” about once a month.

Last night was one of them, our first since Valentine’s Day. But when we do get out it’s always so romantic. There’s some serious anticipation, excitement and then pure giddiness at being out for a

dance_couple1.jpg

 night on the town. Last night we went out to dinner and then danced like crazy people to a jazz funk band. (Oh and the boy can dance). God it was fun. The perfect evening. I know if I weren’t a single mom there’s no way I would be able to appreciate these date nights as much and neither would he.

And although Kris insists that dating a single mom is easier than dating a “clueless young chick” there are still some major, well, how should I put this, differences our men have to endure to be with us. Endure or, should it be enjoy? Hmmmm….depends on the guy and his attitude.

Some of the things a man dating a single mom endures or enjoys:

1. Sitting down on couch and landing on gooey cookie.

2. The baby monitor. I don’t think I need to elaborate here.

3. Limited nights out.

4. Getting slimed. Lots and lots of snot landing or rubbed in the area of your choice, usually a pant leg.

5. Tantrums. Sigh.

6. Schmoozing with the babysitter.

7. Daily recaps of a toddler’s poop consistency.

8. Never, ever getting to sleep in with his girlfriend.

9. Watching fine programs like the Backyardigans, Thomas the Train or Mickey Mouse Club House.

10. Frequent sicknesses.

I could go on. But it makes me realize that Kris, or any man dating a single mom, must really, really love us. I mean how many women can say, “my boyfriend makes my son laugh, listens to me ponder the mysteries of parenthood and doesn’t complain when a pile of snot gets smooshed into his suit.”

This is why I point out (as often as possible) that single moms really do get the best men. Assuming we are choosing the right ones. FYI – if you are a single mom and your man bitches about anything on this list – dump him immediately. But seriously, by default, we get the best of the best. Sigh. I’m all in love and stuff tonight. Total cheese ball.

Thank god for date nights.

[photo credit: http://www.cypressjuniorcotillion.com]
I was beaming with pride last night. I bought Benjamin his first Thomas train set for his birthday. After I spent 30 minutes setting the track up perfectly to fit his little bedroom play table, he spent an hour choo chooing the trains around.

This morning (like every Monday) his father came to pick him up. I called this afternoon to see how they were doing.

“Oh, we’re great!” Ex says, “he’s playing with Thomas right now and watching an Elmo movie.”

“What?,” I press, “He’s playing with his new Thomas track? At your house? You took the entire set with you?”

“Yeah, is that a problem?”

Sigh. Now I have to set it up again so it fits on the table. And what if the pieces get lost? And…well, should there really be such major toy transfers for a 24 hour sleep over at Dad’s? And isn’t that kind of like cheating? Taking the toys I got for him … knowing full well that had he missed them for 24 hours he would have come home all excited and been occupied for hours.

Help! Need advice from other single parents on this one. I guess when Benjamin is older this could be an issue. Explaining to him that – no – you can’t pack up an entire car worth of toys to go to daddy’s. Or, should I let him? Really clueless on this one.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Heidi March 17, 2008 at 10:54 pm

My kids are 2 and 4 and we’ve encountered this problem as well. Generally the toys I give them stay at my house and the toys their father gives them stay at his house. But, if there is a special toy that they really want to bring with them we just go with it.

At first I was kind of put off by “my” toys being brought to his house, but eventually you get used to it. I figure that as long as the kids are happy that’s all that really matters.

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jennie March 18, 2008 at 1:59 am

when my ex and i first split up, my son didn’t have any toys at his dad’s house, so i would send toys with him when he went over there for the weekend. now, three years later (my son is 5 now), he has toys set up at his dad’s, so it’s not an issue anymore.

i agree with heidi – it’s worth it just to send them if it keeps b happy. since your house is really b’s house in his mind, it probably helps him to have familiarity when he goes to his dad’s. i know this is the case with my son, even now!

but i can relate to feeling territorial too. i think you and i have very similar experiences with our exes, and feeling like the sole parent. just breathe through it, and remember that he’s telling his dad “my mama got me this train!”

good luck!!!

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Angie March 18, 2008 at 2:47 am

My 7 year old doesn’t have visits, but my 4 year old does. I let her take a rolling backpack with her, she can take One special toy as long as it fits in her bag. Oh, and one pair of special shoes and one pretty dress.

That lets her get excited about getting ready for her visit, and helps her forget she won’t see mommy or brother for a few days. But, it controls how much goes back and forth, it’s not like dad sends anything home with her!

The nerve of dad, taking the entire train set! I’m making a little wish for you right now, wishing you get the set back!!

Sounds like dad has control over what he takes with him? That seeps a little tilted…

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Jenice March 18, 2008 at 3:39 am

Whoa. I know I don’t have kids. But I think I just had to give my two cents for what they are worth (or not!) I think that you should talk with the ex about why this is a problem. If anything, it can be a discussion of how Benjamin needs to learn that he can’t have everything all the time. Like life. We can’t have everything we want. Especially when it isn’t exactly feasible. Just a long shot idea here…

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mssinglemama March 18, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Thanks for the advice mamas! I will take it all … there is a balance between letting him take things for comfort and just getting his way. Love the suit case idea – whatever fits…

And Angie – glad you feel that way – “the nerve of him” to take the damn train set.

Any one who’s set one of those up knows there are tons of little pieces and it takes time. We’ll find out tonight what’s missing. And I am definitely going to have a little chat with Dad about this.

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Hanna March 18, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Every toy/blanket/set of clothes I’ve sent with my baby’s father never finds its way back. I don’t send anything with her anymore. Its his responsibility to make sure she had what she needs. One time she came back without the SHOES I sent her with.

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erzsi1113 March 18, 2008 at 4:55 pm

Very frustrating. It should be a *small* comfort to know that like jennie said he’s tellling his dad that YOU bought him that train and he loved it some much couldn’t be without it for 24 hours.

My boys don’t take anything with them when they visit their dad now — not even their special stuffed animals they sleep with. My ex got sick of hearing how much they loved the stuff mommy’s house (with they call our house…daddy’s house is just daddy’s house) that he wouldn’t let them bring anything anymore.

He’s got control issues…(Maybe you could tell?)

I would definintely have a chat with his dad about it — Maybe he could pick out just one individual train instead of the whole set.

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Dr. Leah March 18, 2008 at 10:54 pm

This is always an issue that needs to be navigated when kids have parenting time with the other parent. Today it is “Thomas”; fairly soon it is school supplies, electronics, and all kinds of other “stuff”.

Responsible parents provide what kids need during the time the kids are with them. This includes food, clothing, and play things. Later on, of course, kids can take the responsibility for carrying school books and other possessions back and forth, as needed.

I’m unclear why Dad felt comfortable enough to dismantle something in your home and reassemble it in his home. When he said, Gee, is that a problem?” perhaps you might have responded, “Yes, it is. Please do not take anything out of my home without checking with me first.”

Please think about asking for the entire train set—every little piece–back and setting some boundaries. You’ve got a long haul with this guy. Today the train set; tomorrow who knows?

Best of luck!.

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Heiredal March 19, 2008 at 12:41 am

Like Jenice, I don’t have kids. But could this be an issue that actually doesn’t have anything to do with the toys, setting it up again or risking to loose a piece?

I hate to even suggest this – and perhaps my way of thinking reveals more about myself and my ‘competitiveness’ than about mssinglemama. But could there be some level of jealousy in this matter?

Had it been me, I am sure that I would feel somewhat the same as described in the blog. But the main reason would be different. I wouldn’t like for my ex to get ‘popularity points’ with our kid because of something that I bought for her or him. In a situation like this, I would probably think that since I know my kid well enough to find the toy that brings the child the most joy, I should be the one who gets credit for it – hence it should be played with at my house!

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John February 4, 2015 at 12:18 pm

As a mother, the nubemr one reason you take the time to capture your precious babies’ pictures is to have the ability to look back and remember them the way you see them at that point in time. I have attempted to do this many times with my other children (before Tyree was doing pics) and I am so grateful that she was able to capture the tender, amazing softness the way I see my baby Sayge. You will never know how special it is to me to know that I will get to look back and relive these most special memories of Sayge at this time in her life. Time goes by so quickly and can make you so sad, but at least the pictures you took of her as well as her and I really captured this special time as though I get to relive and remember just the way it was. From the bottom of my hear, thank you for your talent!

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mssinglemama March 19, 2008 at 1:08 am

Hi Heiredal! There’s a bit of that, I’m sure. But really, when the time it took me to put the train set together just so (about 30 minutes) was basically wasted … that lost time makes me more angry than anything else…not even to mention the fact that his room is always left trashed after dads been here.

Very frustrating. So for me…it’s more the time issue and the threat of lost pieces. (Especially since I just spent a good chunk of change on that toy) Make sense?

Dr. Leah – you’re absolutely right. There will be a “discussion” the next time I see him. Going to elaborate on this in a post right now…so stay tuned.

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The Queen March 19, 2008 at 4:40 pm

I can’t stop myself from “chiming” in.
So, this is a response to both recent posts regarding “sharing” parenting with the “dad”.
Am I correct in my understanding the “dad” comes to your house for visit time? I had this same situation for awhile in the beginning. My kids were 1 & 3 back then and it seemed easier on them during the transition period. However it was torture on me. When it became obvious my ex had no respect for me or my right to privacy in my own home, a new arrangement was invented. As they say “necessity is the mother of invention” and to me having my privacy was a necessity! I see this situation of yours as if it is a similar issue surfacing. Now that my kids are 7 & 9, we live nearly an hour from “dad” and this is much better than it was in the beginning. My advice is to separate spaces (even close by but separate works) and belongings. This is the way it has been forever now and the kids get it. They know home stuff stays at home and dad stuff stays at dads. Once they learn this, it really is a simple pattern for them to follow and they even quit asking about taking stuff with them. I respect the backpack idea but kids who go back and forth are already stressed enough without having to worry about leaving toys or clothes at the wrong house. Plus your little guy is little, tiny and it will be awhile before he can handle that level of responsibility. There is also the issue of teeny parts and pieces, the time involved in assembly and the joy of watching him enjoy this gift you gave him. For all these reasons, I can’t see that as an option for you right now. I don’t know if it is possible for you right now, but my best advice is the separate homes without any unsupervised privileges in each others homes. Making toys and clothes and food and diapers part of the package as well. It must be very expensive keeping up an ex and a baby all on your own! I hope this helps somewhat. Best of luck on figuring this out, I know it isn’t easy.

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mssinglemama March 19, 2008 at 10:02 pm

Queen – he comes here to pick him up early Monday morning – usually hangs here until around noon – then they spend the night at his girlfriend’s house (yes – horrible) and then … he usually brings him back early Tuesday morning and spends the majority of Tuesday here.

I like the idea of setting boundaries for the big toys. Especially after this Thomas incident.

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Gayle March 23, 2008 at 1:28 am

My ex has the mentality that since he pays child support, I should be the one providing all clothes, supplies, toys, etc (pack a suitcase) when he has her. So, I get your frustration totally. My thoughts:

1. Ex is a guest/visitor in YOUR home and if he doesn’t act like one, YOU should treat him like one. Sounds like the ex is hanging out at your house unsupervised. That would be unacceptable in my world. Don’t let him get too cozy. You got divorced for a reason. There’s no reason to accommodate him.

2. This is not a problem with your Ex…he’s just doing what he’s always done…take advantage of you. This is YOUR problem to solve within YOURSELF. If you keep letting this go, your son will learn from the Ex that it’s okay to just take other people’s stuff for 1 reason or another…and he will learn from YOU that it’s acceptable if you keep letting it happen. NO, NO, NO!!! This is not something to worry about later thinking Benjamin is too young. He IS OLD ENOUGH to model you! Trust me!

3. Ex provides whatever the child needs when in his care. If he takes/wants/gets visitation, that’s his RESPONSIBILITY as a parent to tend to the needs of the child…that includes the stuff and the $$ it takes to provide the stuff…unless your divorce agreement says otherwise. That’s straight from my divorce attorney.

4. The train was taken because your Ex felt it was okay and has a sense of entitlement/ownership to your son’s stuff. Gheez! My 2½ yr old wants to take her toybox and everything else with her when we go to daycare or just the store. Not a big deal to distract her or just tell her no. It was your Ex doing the taking (most likely with a little begging from your son). The Ex needs to return the train and YOU need to make sure YOU never leave him unsupervised in your home.

Whoo. That felt good to get that off my chest.

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Rebs April 11, 2008 at 8:51 am

I think you’re giving your Ex more credit than what’s due. I doubt he had any ulterior motives. Benjamin likes the train, so the train came with him.

It took me awhile, but I eventually came around to this thought for my own kidlet. The toys and clothes don’t belong to me or to her dad. They belong to her. She has clothes and toys at each home and takes a wee backpack back and forth that holds her teddy and her puffers. I may or may not see the clothes that I dressed her in this morning when she comes back to my place next Friday, but the clothes are hers. Whether she wears them during a Daddy week or a Mummy week isn’t a concern; just that she’s dressed! We each have a definite style that we each like for her (he’s big on pink, I’m big on, well, punk), so clothes generally end up back at the house of the parent that bought them.

You are – essentially – extending more than guest privileges to your Ex by letting him hang with Benjamin in your house when you’re not there. The only time my Ex has been in my home solo is when the kidlet has been sick and I’ve needed to leave but didn’t want her to have to leave her sickbed on the couch. And, even then, I made sure my laptop and personal stuff were put away in my closed bedroom.

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Silent Director October 8, 2013 at 1:42 am

I’ve certainly had this problem ladies – as the Dad on the other side. I guess for me it was an opportunity to spoil my little one until I realised that wasn’t what we should do. Special toys made the trip between places for sure but eventually (and as they got older) it made sense to have 2 of something – an Xbox for example.

One thing I will say is that if my ex ever needed anything then she had it. That girl brought up my kids from a relationship that broke. Not her fault, not mine…but wanting to buy something for her kid and not being able to sometimes was not right.

Finances can often be a problem in a break up (much like a relationship) but you just have to manage I guess.

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Moksit February 3, 2015 at 12:22 pm

As a mother, the nuembr one reason you take the time to caputre your precious babies’s pictures is to have the ability to look back and rmrmber them the way you see them at that point in time. I have attempted to do this many times with my other choldren (before Tyree was doing pics) and I am so grateful that she was able to capture the tender, amazing softness the way I see my baby Sayge. You will never know how special it is to me to know that I will get to look back and relive these most special memories of Sayge at this time in her life. Time goes by so quickly and can make you so sad, but at least the pictures you took of her as well as her and I really captured this special time as though I get to relive and remember just the way it was. From the bottom of my hear, thank you for your talent!

Reply

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