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Ex is a good dad, so how do I do this

(20 Posts)
bcsnowpea Sun 28-Dec-08 06:22:26

H and I split six or so weeks ago. We had just moved back to Canada from Australia, and I think it was the final straw of stress for me. We've had a lot of issues between us over the last few years about his drinking and pot habit, and about his lying to me about them, and I finally just stopped feeling anything for him. I became totally emotionally exhausted.

Because I'm Australian and all my family and friends are there, I decided to go home for a few weeks to clear my head and to gather some strength for what we're embarking on. When I made that decision, H asked me to leave DS (2) with him. I did because I knew I would be coming back, and because DS and H were/are living with in-laws in a great environment for DS (also knew I could trust in-laws to keep an eye on H).

Now H has done some pretty stupid, irresponsible things in the past, but for the last long time he hasn't done anything to jeopardise DS. He's a fantastic father, and my perspective of him as such has been reinforced by how happy DS has stayed in the time I've been away. I've come back for Christmas, as promised, and H and I have started talking about equal custody of DS. The idea has been that I'll stay in Canada for six months and look for work, but be back in Sydney by July to commence Honours.

Here are the issues:
1. This is not my home, and I don't know why I should waste six months here in a country where I have no friends or family. This is totally selfish though, and I can neither bear the thought of leaving DS again, nor of taking him away from H who loves him so much.

2. I will have to go back to Australia within six months, and H and I have been talking about sharing DS between us at intervals of three months, at least for a year or so to see how it works. Can this work? Is that too much pressure to put on DS?

3. While I offered the 50/50 arrangement to H because I myself wouldn't want to be shortchanged on being involved in my son's life, I do have a lot of influences telling me that I should just have DS with me, at least for the first few years, because kids need their mums. Here's the problem, DS has done so well with H that I'm really not sure he needs me. I need him, but how can I really know that I am the best thing for him, enough to take him with me and away from H?

Okay, that was a lot longer than I expected. Has anybody experienced this type of situation before? Or know anyone who has? I really don't want to compromise my whole life because H and I just happened to break up in his country, but can I really change DS's situation so drastically? Is there a way to do this? Please, tell me there is!

ghosty Sun 28-Dec-08 06:37:33

I am sorry that you are going through this.
I don't have any personal experience to compare but I do know that if DH and I split up I wouldn't take the children back to the UK (where I come from) away from him - it would destroy both him and them I think, and nor would I leave them with him and go back along.. So I know if we were to split up I would stay here.
That's just me though.
I don't think 3 months on and 3 months off is sustainable for the long term and doesn't seem fair on your DS. What about schooling etc?
He does need you, you know, no matter what you think or feel about it. How old is DS?

ghosty Sun 28-Dec-08 06:38:23

"alone" not "along" - sorry

bcsnowpea Sun 28-Dec-08 06:42:21

He's 2.
I know he needs me, he needs us both and that's the kicker. This is not my home, especially not now. I know it's all contradictory, I want DS to have the best home possible, but I don't want to live here and resent his father for my being here.
Should have married an Australian

hockeypuck Sun 28-Dec-08 07:52:07

I'm so sorry you are going through this. I don't have any experience of this, but I know enough about child psychology to know how damaging it would be to move him every 3 months.

At 2 he will be starting to make very good connections with the people around him, not just his parents, but the wider families and soon, other children his own age when he starts pre-school. To move children once at that age is manageable, but to repeatedly uproot them and change their lives, carers, families, nurseries etc would be risky.

At his age, he needs some routine and familiarity to encourage his confidence.

I feel for what you are going through and I really hope you can come up with a solution that suits you as well as him, you are important in this too.

bcsnowpea Sun 28-Dec-08 08:05:04

You're right, i see the connections he's making. I can't keep tearing him away from people through his life. Maybe I'll just have to learn to live between lives for him.

bcsnowpea Sun 28-Dec-08 08:05:04

You're right, i see the connections he's making. I can't keep tearing him away from people through his life. Maybe I'll just have to learn to live between lives for him.

ghosty Sun 28-Dec-08 09:14:32

bcsnowpea ... I know what you mean about 'this is not my home' ... I live in Melbourne married to a half Brit half Kiwi whose career is on this side of the world. If my marriage broke down I would stay here for the children and not move back to the UK to be near my family.
Can you not make Canada your home even if you have split up with your DH?

Carmenere Sun 28-Dec-08 09:26:36

Honestly? What I would do is give myself 5 years in Canada to make a life for myself. It is not ideal and it might not work but if you decide that you commit to five years and that you can review it then it makes life easier to deal with.

Hassled Sun 28-Dec-08 09:28:56

In your shoes I would settle in Canada for at least the next 10 years, unless there was any chance your ex would move to Aus. Three months divisions of time would be mind-boggling for a 2 year old, and harder still by the time he's, say, 8.

It's bloody hard, and I know 10-12 years must seem like a hell of a commitment (how old are you?) but you only get one shot at raising a secure, happy child.

bcsnowpea Sun 28-Dec-08 20:11:23

It's hard to think about committing time here because I already have a university back home where I'd like to complete my last year. After that, I am not dedicated to doing post-grad anywhere, so I could concievably move back to Canada.
On the other hand, if this break-up had happened 2 weeks earlier we would have still be in Australia & the shoe would be on the other foot. That really irritates me, even though I know I can't change it now.
H and I have just had a chat about schools and things. I loved the system I was given access to in Sydney, whereas he doesn't really have any strong impressions of his school experience. I think we're coming to the realisation that we'll have to let DS settle somewhere, we're just neither of us ready to commit to somewhere yet.

FiveGoMadInDorset Sun 28-Dec-08 20:15:12

I have a friend whose first wife is American and they ahve a daughter who is now 16. The way they worked it was that she went to school in America and spent every holiday (all holiday) with her father. They were thinking of having her educated in this country so the arrangement would have swapped. This has worked well for them.

Niecie Sun 28-Dec-08 20:23:12

I can't begin to imagine how hard this is for all of you. What a dilemma. sad

I was wondering if you could finish your course and then go back to Canada after that year is up to try and make a life there. You would have finished your course and presumably would have a qualification which would make you more saleable in the job market. Your ex would have to use his holidays for that year visiting Australia but it would be made easier for him, knowing that it was only for a finite length of time.

Of course the bigger sacrifice is yours but I suppose it depends how strongly you all feel about your DS having a strong bond with both parents. Perhaps you could even compromise by having 3 years (for arguments sake) in Canada and 3 years in Oz until your DS is grown up.

I hope you manage to find a solution you are all comfortable with.

only1malteaser Sun 28-Dec-08 20:28:13

Any chance your Husband would move to Aus for a year if you made a commitment to move back to Canada after uni?

bcsnowpea Sun 28-Dec-08 20:59:43

Actually I like the holiday idea FiveGoMad, though the australian school holidays don't happen in one convenient chunk like Canadian ones. On the other hand, it would be more opportunities in a year for him to see his dad.

Talked to H today about the possibility of him living in Australia, he said he would if i insisted on taking ds. Not sure how to interpret that.

LiffeyeRamhairAnois Sun 28-Dec-08 21:15:36

Message withdrawn

LiffeyeRamhairAnois Sun 28-Dec-08 21:17:12

I thought you were in Australia. I thought you had moved from Canada to Australia. sad

bcsnowpea Sun 28-Dec-08 21:22:50

That's okay, I figured you misread. DS has citizenship in both countries, and I have permanent residence in Canada for the next four years, whereas H is still on temporary residence in Aus, to be made permanent in December. Not sure if that puts the onus on me to be in Canada, or if it even matters at all, since he'll still be the father of an Australian citizen.

I have to start feeling confident that I am the right person for DS to be with, which is very hard to feel when we're still in a house with H and H's parents who take a lot of control. It's hard to take that control back when I don't have anywhere to be with DS alone. I have nowhere to take him. l

LiffeyeRamhairAnois Sun 28-Dec-08 21:25:30

Can you take him to Australia just while you 'recover from your break up'?

You probably need to anyway. I couldn't have coped being a single mum in UK. that's not to say that being a single mum in the uk is intolerable, but I am Irish and I had a support network HERE.

bcsnowpea Sun 28-Dec-08 21:37:09

Probably not. I already took a recovering break to Australia, and H asked me to leave ds with him for those few weeks. I complied because I felt so guilty about being the one to finally sever the relationship. Wish I had taken him with me.

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