So my son's dad has moved into his new house, and the rigmarole of shared access has begun.
The plan was that our son would stay there for the first time last weekend. In the event it did not happen because once I took him there, I just could not hand him over to stay in a soulless, empty house, full of packing boxes and where there were none of his things, not even an assembled bed.
So I took him back home.
Obviously this caused huge rows, which, almost seven days later, are still raging.
Prior to this happening, I'd seen friends going through awful situations regarding access arrangements. My thoughts at the time had always been that both parents should have a equal responsibility, and there should simply be two places the child called home. I even, naively, thought that from a child's point of view it could be rather exciting: two bedrooms done out to their specifications, two houses full of toys, wardrobes full of clothes. I probably even said as much to my friends. In fact, I remember one telling me quite curtly that it was 'never fun when Carly is away,' when I asked her if she had a fun weekend lined up because her little girl was going to be staying at her dad's.
'But don't you enjoy having a break?' I'd pressed, adding 'And she's with her dad, it's not like she's away with strangers.' She told me that it 'wasn't as simple as that,' and that packing her daughter's bags and sending her way every other weekend broke her heart. I never understood why at the time. She was going to stay with her dad. My friend had the whole weekend to do whatever she wanted. What was so heartbreaking about that?
I bloody well understand now. And, worse still, people have said all those things to me, too - about having fun things planned, or a relaxing weekend to myself. And just like my friend all those years ago, my reply has been curt. Because I never had a child to only spend 50 per cent of my time with him. I don't want relaxing weekends to myself every other week. Basically, I do not want to be a part time parent.
But I guess I have to accept that I am, and, also accept that this is what my son will now regard as normal family life.
Which is a bit rubbish, really.