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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Setting the stage for gentle separation

This morning as Annika left with Toyin I was struck by how gently and lovingly we've managed to pull off our split.

Toyin showed up around 9 a.m. Annika was running around half naked. I had been hoping she'd use the potty. I was still cooking breakfast. As he came in she instructed him to take his coat off, which he did. We ate breakfast. Afterward I asked her to brush her teeth and I combed her hair while Toyin held her. Then I got her clothes out, I put on her pants and shirt, and finished the job with sweater, jacket, hat, shoes and socks.

About 45 minutes after he arrived they were walking out the door with her Elmo backpack filled with her animals and holding her baby doll.

There was no crying. There was animosity between Toyin and myself. There was no "hurry up, your father is coming to get you." There was no set time for him to pick her up or get her out the door. There was none of the scene that I always imagine it is between parents who split up. It was more like how I imagine a father would be leaving with his kid just to hang out for a day without mom.

As they left I was reminded of my (apparently unfounded) fears and worries that splitting up would somehow make this more like a jagged edge in Annika's life rather than just letting it simply unfold.

When I was pregnant Toyin brought up custody and visitation rights. Something in me snapped when he started talking about that stuff. I didn't want to go there. I wanted to be able to just talk things out with him. I never wanted a judge or a court to decide for us when Annika would be where. I didn't want her holidays to be pre-determined for years.

So we started off her life unsure about the future. Of course, nothing is ever for sure, but that first year, we were in such uncharted territory, sometimes it could be downright scary. I often wondered if I had made the right decision, living with Toyin and asking for his financial support.

Sometimes I wonder how things would have been different.

I think Toyin and Annika would not be as close if we had gone the typical route. I also don't think Annika and I would be as close. I would have been more stressed and I also would have been working. Toyin may or may not have stayed here or even moved to Texas if we had gone the typical route.

So, I guess, we made the right decision. It feels to good to know that for once I got something right. 

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