Posted in custody, distance parent, non-custodial mom, non-residential parent, parenting

Non-Custodial Pandemic Parenting: The COVID-19 Travel Rabbit Hole

I adopted a dog – a second dog, Rocky, our Boxer Mix, adopted us from  Lowell Humane Society back in October – to occupy the “Mom” part of my mind during the current, seemingly endless, COVID-19 Crisis. Ella, a rescue from Last Hope K9, is settling in nicely. Nicely enough that I gave up a whole Sketcher.

Not much of a loss. The Sketchers had pink glitter accents.

I don’t do pink. I don’t do glitter. Don’t ask me why.

Despite Ella, and Rocky’s best efforts – housetraining at 2:30 a.m. in the rain anyone? How about 140 lbs of dogs roughhousing on the bed while you’re trying to get to sleep? – my MomBrain is very much unoccupied, leaving it free to focus 24/7/365 on the conspicuous absence from my life of the best and most important part of my life, my son.

It’s been 4 months to the day since I spent time in person with Leading Man #1. I walk down to his room at the end of the hall – I store the vacuum cleaner in his closet because it’s mostly empty – almost every day and run my hands across the bed. I look at the white erase and chalk boards set up for this last, last minute-cancelled, visit. I take note of his X-Box games, and his sweatshirt on the chair.

I wish he were here.

I am sitting, patiently waiting for this Coronavirus insanity to reach its peak in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. I am hoping against hope that it will happen in the next week, and I can spend my son’s spring break with him.

I know it won’t happen.

Periodically I consider just disinfecting my trusty Toyota Camry with bleach, loading up on hand sanitizer, raiding my fabric closet and making a face mask, and hitting the road. If I get up at 3:00 a.m., I can make Boston to Bergen County in just over 3 hours with no need for a rest stop. I can dash into my son’s home, grab him and his gear, stuff him in the car – after I make him sanitize his hands – and hoof it back to Massachusetts, again with no pit stops. Yeah, I can do it. I won’t get infected with Coronavirus. My son isn’t infected. He won’t catch it in my car. TheEx isn’t sick. He can’t give it to me. Just in case I won’t even use TheEx’s rest room when I pick kiddo up. I can “hold it” for 7-8 hours total.

No, no I can’t. Not with the amount of coffee I drink, and will need to drink at 3:00 a.m. I’ll be lucky if I make it through Massachusetts without needing to pee by the side of the road. That would invite some strange looks and possibly a stop by one of MA’s finest.

Then there’s the matter of quarantine. Massachusetts has a 14 day self-quarantine to visitors to the state. Yes, I see this as my son’s home, but the Public Safety Department might go by my son’s legitimate address, which is, NJ, meaning he’s a visitor. Where am I going to quarantine kiddo for 14 days?

Also, I’d have to make it through Connecticut and New York. Connecticut also has a 14 day quarantine for visitors in effect. So does that mean kiddo and I would have to hole up somewhere in Danbury on our way back? Would I have to hole up in Hartford on my way down?

I check New York State and New York City’s government websites. More of the same. Oooh! In New York City I can be reported for not maintaining social distancing rules. Say! Does that mean I need to stay 6 feet away from my kiddo? Will people who see us together know we’re related?

All of this assumes I don’t get pulled over in New Jersey for violating its stay at home order.

Speaking of which, I don’t know what TheEx’s new wife or daughter have been doing. Have they been exposed and are just not showing symptoms?

What if I go down there and somewhere along the way, someone in my wide, loopy, coparenting family – 2 parents, 2 step parents, 1 step-sibling, and, of course, LM#1 – does get sick? How will I feel?

I am not feeling claustrophobic. I don’t feel a need to get out of the house, or interact live and in person with other people. I don’t want to stroll a mall, or visit a museum, or go out to dinner. My desire to hit the open highway was vanquished on a single 30 minute ride into the office last Friday.

I very much want to spend time with my son again.

Every day, I consider just hitting the road and going for broke to New Jersey. Every time I do, I fall down the travel logistics rabbit hole I just described. Can’t stay home. Can’t stay away. Need to stay home. Need to stay away.

This SUCKS!

This is Long Distance, Non-Custodial Pandemic Parenting.

Maybe I need to let Ella have at it with my REAL crosstrainers.

Posted in custody, distance parent, non-custodial mom, non-residential parent, parenting

The Long Distance Parent Toolkit

When I first started my journey as a long distance mom, which I found infinitely harder for some reason than being a non-residential one, I scoured the ‘net for resources and support groups. I found DistanceParent.org.

Whether you are a long distance parent or a local non-custodial one, this is a great resource for staying connected to your kids. In particular, the Long Distance Parent Toolkit is particularly brilliant. I’ve used many of these “tools” over the years. They all work beautifully.

Check out the link below to learn more, and thank you to the site’s author, Carrie Norwood, for sharing her journey and making the rest of us feel like we’re not so alone.

The Long Distance Parent Toolkit

Posted in custody, distance parent, motherhood, non-custodial mom, non-residential parent, parenting

Time Stand Still

It’s 10:43 p.m. In just over 6 hours, I need to be up and rolling for a BNI meeting that will include a 45 second commercial featuring a typewriter.

Not a word processor. Not a laptop. Not an old IBM Selectric Electric typewriter.

An actual typewriter.

So the bottom line is I should be asleep, or at least trying to get some rest before a 14 hour day of proposal writing and freelance writing gets underway. Instead I am awake in the spare bedroom that functions as a library, sitting on a futon with a pile of books at my feet, contemplating a 30 year old (at least) Rush song.

My son and I pulled the books off the shelves yesterday with the intent of sorting them by author by the end of the week. Ever the English Teacher, I thought going through the hundred (conservative estimate) books in my collection might inspire my son to read. I am paying him $10 an hour for doing this: $2 more than NJ Minimum Wage and $2 less than Massachusetts Minimum Wage.

I was advised my son needed structure and a job even during his summer break, but also the books actually need to be sorted. Kurt Vonnegut is intermingled with John Updike, who is interspersed with Joyce Carol Oates. Various unread tomes by Janet Evanovich are in a conjumble with Jodi Picoult. Meanwhile, Neil Gaiman snuggles up to Liane Moriarty, and Jim Butcher rubs shoulders with Sophie Hannah. I honestly don’t know what I’ve read and what I haven’t anymore.

Getting back to Rush.

Time Stand Still, off the Hold Your Fire album, was omnipresent the 4 years I spent, between 1987 and 1991, at what was then William Paterson College in Wayne, New Jersey. At the center of campus was a student center with an arcade. The arcade had a large CD jukebox with equally loud speakers and perennially open doors. Every time I walked through the Student Center, Time Stand Still was blaring out of the arcade. I always seemed to be hit it right at the chorus:

Time stand still
I’m not looking back
But I want to look around me now
Time stands still
See more of the people
And the places that surround me now

Time stands still
Freeze this moment
A little bit longer
Make each sensation
A little bit stronger

I listened to those lyrics with idealistic, bittersweet young adult ears. I knew college was a short interlude between being a carefree teenager and an adult with responsibilities.

My son is the age I was the first time I heard that chorus, and shortly, he’ll be leaving his father’s house and moving to an out of home placement. For the next 2 weeks, though, he is mine. For 10 years I have dreamed of spending this time with him, where once again I am just Mom, juggling work with making dinner, assigning chores, admonishing him to step away from the X-Box and get at least 5 minutes of fresh air, hanging out with him, and occasionally administering discipline. Tonight, as we were watching Dr. Who (the newest Doctor) together, it hit me, how badly I want time to stand still.

This time, that I can feel slipping away, even as I take in and treasure every moment. I could have let college slip away without notice or regret. Time with my son I cannot. I will have 2 weeks at home with my son again. I just won’t have this 2 weeks, at this particular age and stage, with Leading Man #1 again.  Children grow up. Parents grow older. I never want to look back and wish I hadn’t tried to freeze, or at least fully appreciate, this moment, or any moment with my son, a little bit longer.

I want to shut down my office computer, shove these books at my feet back on the shelves, and cancel my appointments for the next 10 days. I want to see more of what surrounds me now

Time stand still.

I won’t do any of those things. I’ll keep working. I’ll keep my appointments. We’ll continue to work on the books.

Ok, maybe I’ll prune the books a bit – at least set up a library book sale donation box. There are far too many of these that I’ve already read, and with rare exception, I don’t red the same book twice. There are too many others I want to read.

First I’ll go check on kiddo again. For the last 45 minutes I’ve been savoring the sound of his snores coming from down the hallway.

That sounds creepy, but it’s really not. It’s a mom thing.