Monday, September 22, 2008

What's Best for My Daughter

Tomorrow morning I was supposed to be sitting with my lawyer, discussing what is best for my daughter, and then drawing up something that Babydaddy and I could agree upon. If we were thinking about what was best for her today, it would be easy: it’s best for her to nap during the day, sleep on a regular schedule, get plenty of fruits and vegetables, read books, play outside, learn to pick up her toys, hug and be hugged, and laugh.

But how am I supposed to know what’s going to be best for her in 10 years? In 15? As anyone will tell you (and they frequently do tell me, especially Babydaddy) that it’s best for a child to have two parents that love her and are part of her life. Two weeks ago, when Babydaddy came down to discuss these issues with me, that’s what he said.

But it had been 8 weeks since he’d seen her. He wants to stay where he is and he see her every 6 weeks or so (because that’s all he has time for, he said). Is this being part of a child’s life? He realizes that he’s "not been prioritizing her right now, but it’s because she’s too young to need him yet.” Is this being part of her life?

He’s been thinking of moving here, so he can see her evenings during the week and sometime on weekends. Of course, he wants to find a wife first. I know that theoretically, this would be best for her. But this is the solution that freaks me out the most.

There’s nothing wrong with where I am. I have a great job, a great community and a great daughter. But staying here means I have just that: a job, a community where I can’t daven until my girl’s old enough to sit still during services, and a daughter.

As supportive as my university is, I have to continue my current schedule: up at 6, play with baby, give her to the nanny and work till 5, play, feed, clean, read with her till 7:30. Put her down to bed and work till midnight. Up at 6. At least until I get tenure.

What kind of life is that?

Obviously, if I take her to Israel, she’s really going to be far away from her Abba. But we’ll have travel funds (and the research need) to spend up to four months in the States every year. He says that longer periods of time are no so convenient for him as weekends. Do I stay here so he can see her 8 weekends a year? Or do I let her grow up with the man I want to marry and who wants to raise her as his own? A man who davens three times a day and teaches her what I don’t know.

She loves her Abba, though she hardly sees him. We’ve got photos of him, and when she sees a photo she says “Abba!” When he's here it seems as if he really loves her. It breaks my heart.

If it were just me, I’d go. My Jewish education is minimal. There I could learn for myself and for her; I’d live in a Jewish country; I’d have that support. I’d live in a place where everyone has children, and children are valued and loved by society. I’d have a job with half the teaching load, and a teaching load that was in my area of expertise.

In my current city, dogs are loved more than children. Honestly. I went walking with a friend and her dog, and for every one person who greeted my adorable child, 8 greeted her adorable pooch. And it wasn’t even a puppy!

How do I know what’s best for baby? How much do we have to take into account what’s best for Babydaddy?

The lawyer phoned tonight and said we would have to reschedule next week. Honestly, I’m relieved.


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Reflective said...

My co-workers never seem to understand that my not-perfectly-formed (and usually not-that-brilliant) ideas are meant to be a jumping off point for problem solving rather than the solution to the problem at hand. This is to say--please don't think that I think this is a good solution. Just a springboard.

Anyway, that said:

Babydaddy wants to see your beautiful daughter every six weeks for a weekend. If he were willing to see her every eight weeks, perhaps for a few days longer at a time, then... if you alternated who traveled, you'd only be traveling once every four months. Which might be reasonable for each of you to do between here and Israel. It's a long flight, yes, and expensive, but you could try to work out the timing so that you would come when you would be coming to visit your parents or friends or be here for research.

Just a thought...

lsw said...

Oy. That's a painful dilemma.

You cannot sacrifice your happiness and the completion of your family. It's not an option. You can, however, make every reasonable effort to make sure baby daddy stays in the picture. It's not easy, and it may never be, but your happiness can't be negotiable. Visitation rights can be.

At least in an ideal world.

I'm praying for you!

Joyous Jewess said...

What a difficult situation. I think you need to remember that what is best for you will often be what is best for your daughter, since your happiness and fulfillment will have a huge positive impact on her. It seems absurd that Babydaddy should be allowed to prioritize his convenience, while you're being asked to sacrifice love, family, career satisfaction, etc.

Maya said...

Thanks, everyone! Now if only the legal issues surrounding this situation were as reasonable...we'll see how it goes.