Sadie Says… This Word (Custody)

You know what word I am discovering that I dislike?


It’s an icky word. A word that I never thought I’d have to use but have needed to say it, write it, text it, check it off in boxes, and otherwise apply it far more often within the context of my upturned life, my changed relationship, and the shift of our family dynamic than I would have ever imagined.

CUSTODY implies ownership. Stewardship. The word is fully fucking loaded with implications of more than I have the capacity to digest… like strategic management and parental rights and what about child protection and who is the most responsible and available adult and where does she want to reside most of the time and what are the supervision requirements and who has more time to dedicate and who drives to school and packs lunches and helps with homework and what about promises of well-being? For everyone.

And there’s more. Much more, still.

It isn’t a word that gets tossed around within the confines of a partnership that is intact. The word CUSTODY in the context of divorce or separation is, by its very definition, attached, inexorably, to the screaming chaos of loss and grief and change, a weighted black ball of ICK and YUCK affixed to a miserable, slippery, moss-covered chain that is pinned to the frayed edges of broken hearts.

I dislike the word immensely.

I don’t want to use This Word. And I don’t want to find myself using or hearing any phrases that go along with it. My weekend. Your weekend.

No. I just don’t. I don’t know how to not, however. Can someone tell me how to evade custody without … evading custody?

Because instead? Instead, I want to dip silently and somewhat effortlessly into this arrangement we’ve been forced to build as a result of lack of ability to make shit work between us…. without the use of such unpleasant designations. I feel like there’s gotta be a way to do just that.

Support. Cooperation. Negotiation. Collaboration. Trust. These are vital elements of relationships that don’t have to stop once the relationship has changed, right? In fact, I suspect they are even more important to maintain after it has. For the well-being of everyone involved. Perhaps if this becomes the case, This Word won’t seem to have so much weight to it. I look forward to the possibility of not having a problem with Custody.

Which will probably make having primary custody seem a whole lot less daunting than it does right this very minute.

Sadie Smythe

Sadie Smythe is a sex and relationships writer, a memoir author, an advocate for sexual freedom, a BedPost Confessions co-producer, a single mother of a supercool kid, the possessor of a degree in psychology, and a polyamory consultant ... among other things. In her spare time, she sleeps.

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