Friday, July 31, 2015

Sharing Zoe

It is probably clear to any regular readers of my blog (as well as friends who have ever seen me in real life) that Zoe and I are very close. Since she was born and throughout her 5 year lifespan, we have spent the majority of time together; we have fun together, we travel together and we sleep next to each other. I am probably the luckiest mom in the world because she is so incredible easy and fun to be with. We rarely have any tiffs and honestly, if she does get mad at me, we quickly get over it. She actually doesn't like being mad or angry: last Monday, as we walked through Bleeker Street after returning milk bottles in Murrey's Cheese shop, she suddenly started stumping her feet and whimper. "Why are you mad?", I asked and she first didn't reply. "What's wrong?" I repeated. She said she didn't want to leave. "I don't want to be angry, but I'm so annoyed*. I don't want to go flying". I quizzed her more, why she didn't want to go flying. "I don't want to go back to Daddy. I want to stay with you here. I want your place to be my real home and Daddy's place to be a pretend home. And I just want to be happy**". At this point we had stopped in front of the door to the Bisou Macaron shop where we had planned to get coffee. I didn't know what to say because as much as I wanted the same, it was not that easy. In fact it was very complicated. We went inside and a very milky latte and a chocolate macaron made her bad mood better.

"I love you Zoe"
When Zoe's father and I first split up, I had taken care of her for the majority of time until then. I never minded that because tiny babies mainly need their mom, for food and care taking. Besides, I was the one with a non-permanent job that could be put on hold, so even though I didn't want that, it was the "obvious" option when we didn't have daycare for a couple of months after moving to Sweden. As we started sharing her officially 3days/3days, I still took the majority of the time with her. It just ended up being like that because he was busy, needed to travel, go to meetings and I often traveled to Denmark to see family with Zoe. I tallied the first year and a half at one point and Zoe had been with me exactly 66% of the time. He tended to go on vacation without her, I tended to go on vacation with her (not that I went on much 'vacation', because I could never afford that after the split, but I would bring her to conferences and to see family). The following year, the split became slightly more even, but the tradition of me bringing Zoe on vacation and her dad going on holiday without her, was still alive. I took her to doctors' appointments and the dentist. I arranged play dates and communicated with the daycare, even being the parental representative for her group. When I talked to the teachers last time (phoning from New York), they informed me that he did not show up to the last teacher/parent meeting.

Her dad's demands surfaced when I got the opportunity to move to New York, first for one semester, now for potential renewal.  Zoe was not allowed to go with me for long. The first demands were that she could only go for one month. Then I got it negotiated to two months. I managed to make her stay with me 2 1/2 out of the six. The two months we were apart in May-June were the toughest months in my life, and undoubtedly also the toughest in Zoe's life too. The first times we talked on Skype after she had returned to Sweden she could only cry. She didn't want to hang up, he had to take the iPad away from her in the end.

I'm trying my best to suggest options, possibilities, testing different formats for sharing her time between us, but I am only being met with demands and now threats. Threats that he will sue me for custody. I broke down completely when he insinuated that; just thinking of Zoe not living with me at least half the time makes me terrified. She would be heart broken. I cannot count on both hands anymore, the times she has leaned in and whispered to me "Mommy, I wish I lived with you all the time".

*I'm trying to translate the Danish word "sur", which is somewhere between angry and annoyed
** "glad" is somewhere between happy and being in a good mood

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