I, too, live in a “50/50 is best, unless there’s a good reason” state. My ex got every other weekend. The judge felt there was a good reason, and I agreed. She wrote in our decree, “Father is clearly motivated by money and not the best interests of the children.” She didn’t feel that him wanting to pay less child support was a good enough reason for them to be in his care 50% of the time. I asked to share legal decision-making hoping that he would, at some point, show interest in making a decision on their behalf. I’m still waiting.
I’ve often wondered, at the end of a long day of being the sun in everyone’s universe, if 50/50 would be easier. I mean, I would get breaks. I wouldn’t be so run down. I’d have more time for a social life of my own. But those are all about my confort…and putting himself first is why he’s failing at parenting, so I don’t intend to do the same.
The truth is that when you have a “co-parent” that doesn’t show up the to game, you end up running the show anyway except, like you said, you do it with anger and resentment. You have to take your individual circumstances into account and to make an honest assessment of the parenting capabilities of your ex. What he “ should” do doesn’t matter…there is only what he “does” to guide you.
My kids have an involved, responsible, loving, secure, dedicated parent 100% of the time and that’s the only thing I have control over. They also get to go with Disneyland Dad and do fun things every other weekend and, for the little two at least (one of whom has autism), that’s enough for now.
I, too, have had to let go of sending reminders and updates that he doesn’t read and stopped giving credence to “It’s your fault I wasn’t there…You didn’t tell me!” Well, the e-mails from their schools that I signed you up for when you didn’t show to ‘Meet The Teacher Night” told you, sooooo….riddle me that. I don’t even respond anymore.
“Why isn’t Daddy here?” breaks my heart everytime, but I had to stop lying to them and making up bullshit excuses to tell them. I had to stop shielding them from the truth, which is, “I don’t know, sweetie. But I promise I’ll always be here.”
I take responsibility for having three more children with a man who was uninvolved with the first. That was a failure on my part. Raising four children on my own is no easy feat, but it is sounds easier than having expectations for a man that I know can’t meet them, like I did during our marriage. That was downright brutal. My load is so much lighter now.
Your situation is tough. I imagine that the same rage that engulfed me during my marriage would engulf me in a 50/50 arrangement and I wouldn’t be any less “free” because I’d feel the need to take responsibility for their welfare when they were away, too. But kids learn who their parents are and what they can expect and the best I can do is align my own behavior with their bests interests and keep my fingers crossed that someday he decides to do the same.
So, I do think that co-parenting can work when you have two parents who share the common goal of doing what is in the best interests of the kids and are both willing to put the effort into being the best parents they can be for them, even if their ideas about what is “best” don’t always align. But when one parent lacks either of those drivers, the other will have to pick up the slack…and that’s not co-parenting.