I have to admit, there have been a number of times over the years I secretly wished for the day one of my kids would turn 18. With my three youngest, it had nothing to do with them, rather the Ex. Specifically haggling with the ex over the "proposed" holiday schedule. One year Dick/Malus got miffed that I dare email a schedule over without "proposed" in the title.
Most of the years we have shared 50/50 custody with our respective Exes. Agreeing on what was a fair 50% time split was a moving target year after year. By the time the actual Holiday rolled around, it felt like we had negotiated peace in the Middle East. Instead of wanting celebrate, I usually felt like going to bed for a few days due to mental exhaustion.
This year we've added a new twist - Jax turned 18 in July. No longer a valid divorce decree awarding joint custody to his Mom and Dad. No more detailed spread sheets about what days he will spend at Mom's house and Dad's house. In my opinion, that was a huge motivating factor in Jax going out of state for College - he could sleep every night in the same bed, his clothes all in one place - just one home base.
Today Jax is coming home for Thanksgiving! This isn't Mom or Dad's Thanksgiving - it's HIS THANKSGIVING! But what home will he come home too? That's the question Jax asked my Hubby a few weeks ago. It hasn't been lost on him the behind the scenes negotiations for his time over the last 14 years of his life. Jax isn't one to disappoint either parent. If my Hubby had outlined a minute by minute schedule he probably would have followed it to the letter this year and probably a few more to come.
Raylan and I came to an agreement when he left back in August. If we want him to continue to come home for the Holidays, summers.....we need to let go of the 50/50 time split. It was a necessary tool when he was younger to ensure that he knew both families and has become less and less the case the older he has become.
Today he's an adult and it's solely up to Jax how he wants to spend his time. We could of course continue to dictate, but he's under to obligation to follow our request. The end result is that he would probably end up distancing himself from both families over time to free himself of the constant TUG OF WAR.
Raylan responded to Jax's question confidently supporting Jax's new role as an adult and he alone should determine his own schedule, where he'll stay.... Raylan feels so strongly that he would talk directly to Greta about that very thing. He said there may be a dinner here and there that we would like you to join us and probably the same for your Mom, but it's his choice if he wants to come, how he spends his holiday including where he sleeps. Jax seemed relieved - like a huge burden had been lifted off his shoulders.
I don't know for sure if Greta has totally signed off to the "proposed" arrangement, but I hope she does. It can't be lip service then laying the guilt trip on the kid whether it be consciously or not. We only have one chance at getting this right because it will set the tone for future holidays and ultimately how many years he continues to come home.
I have to admit that I've been a little scared we won't see much of Jax because we have been so strong about it's his time and I don't totally trust Greta to do the same. My Hubby keeps reminding me that it may very well unfold that way, but giving him the freedom to make his own choices is the right thing to do. If Greta chooses a different path it doesn't make it right. Temporarily she may see him more often, but eventually the older Jax gets he will respect the gift we have given him.
I know Raylan's right, but after 12 years of Holiday negotiations it feels oddly strange to be at this juncture. I stop myself from going down the worry wart path about where he will stay and concentrate on the two dinners he has committed(with excitement I might add) to spend with our family over the next five days. Anything more than that will be icing on the cake!
As of Noon today we still don't know where Jax will be sleeping. His room is ready for when and if he decides to sleep here! And I'm ok either way.