The Keepers – Changing how we think about Primary Custodial Parents
In divorce, there is sometimes (not always) a vast disparity of responsibilities between the primary custodial parent and the secondary custodial parent. It may even appear the court holds the primary parent to a higher standard than the other parent.
It is true, more is often expected of the primary parent. As the primary parent, you are entrusted with a great deal of power to control your child’s upbringing and even their relationship with the other parent. With that power, comes great responsibility, but also great reward. You should take pride, and find peace in knowing you are also your child’s safe haven.
This blog, which went viral last week, more eloquently captures the spirit of parenting. I intend to start referring to “primary parents” as “the keepers.”
I am the keeper. I am the keeper of schedules. Of practices, games, and lessons. Of projects, parties, and dinners. Of appointments and homework assignments.
I am the keeper of information. Who needs food 5 minutes before a meltdown occurs and who needs space when he gets angry. Whether there are clean clothes, whether bills are paid, and whether we are out of milk.
I am the keeper of solutions. Of bandaids and sewing kits and snacks in my purse. But also of emotional balms and metaphorical security blankets.
I am the keeper of preferences. Of likes and dislikes. Of nightly rituals and food aversions.
I am the keeper of reminders. To be kind, to pick up their trash, to do their dishes, to do their homework, to hold open doors and write thank you notes.
I am the keeper of rituals and memories. Of pumpkin patches and Easter egg hunts. I am the taker of pictures, the collector of special ornaments, and the writer of letters.
I am the keeper of emotional security. The repository of comfort, the navigator of bad moods, the holder of secrets and the soother of fears.
I am the keeper of the peace. The mediator of fights, the arbiter of disputes, the facilitator of language, the handler of differing personalities.
I am the keeper of worry. Theirs and my own.
I am the keeper of the good and the bad, the big and the small, the beautiful and the hard.
Most of the time, the weight of these things I keep resembles the upper elements on the periodic table – lighter than air, buoying me with a sense of purpose.
But sometimes the weight of the things I keep pulls me down below the surface until I am kicking and struggling to break the surface and gasp for breath.
Because these things I keep are constantly flickering in the back of my brain, waiting to be forgotten. They scatter my thoughts and keep me awake long past my bedtime.
Because all these things I keep are invisible, intangible. They go unnoticed and unacknowledged until they are missed. They are not graded or peer reviewed or ruled on by a court.
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