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04 September 2011 @ 05:11 pm
Catch Two Two (mother)  
Title/Prompt - Catch Two Two (prompt: mother)
Author - isabelquinn
Word count - 1,059
Rating - PG
Summary - You will miss half their lives.
Link to table - link.
Author's note - Eeee, I finally wrote another piece of bsc fic!

It was vaguely touched on in the main series that Karen and Andrew's custody arrangments change at some point. They go from spending the majority of their time with Lisa and Seth to a completely even split between their two biological parents. It's a bigger deal in the LS series, and the main books that focus on the change are Karen's Two Families (when they decide to make the change and carry out the legal process) and Karen's Stepmother (Karen and Andrew's first full month at the Thomas-Brewer house).

This oneshot is, more or less, Karen's Two Families told from Lisa Engle's perspective. A fair amount of the dialogue is taken directly from that book (and some plot details, o'course), so I hereby give credit for them ;)

Lots and lots of thanks to lucida and ozqueen for beta-ing! ♥

You ignored it.

No, ignore is too strong a word. You noticed it. You worried about it. But you hoped that it would fix itself, that things would fall back into their rhythm.

Things had been working fine for years, and the kids had adjusted to the divorce reasonably well. "You're very lucky," you often told them. "You have two houses full of people who love you." That angle had really helped them. For years now, Karen has prattled about her two families to anyone who'll listen. Andrew's not a chatty kid, but he took the idea to heart. He said last thanksgiving, in that matter-of-fact way of his, "I'm thankful that I have lots and lots of people who care about me."

There were difficulties, of course. You knew there would be, and you knew they'd never completely go away.

So you decided that this was just another hiccup. Another bump. A reality of shared custody, one that everyone would have to deal with. Of course they missed their dad. Of course they missed their other family. You'd never begrudge Watson time with his kids, but this was what you'd both agreed to. The arrangements are the arrangements. Custody is custody. The kids go to him for two weekends a month, and two weeks of the summer. That's that. You agreed, he agreed, the lawyers agreed. Everyone agreed.

And it didn't really bother you when the kids were so thrilled at the prospect of a Big House Weekend (as Karen calls them). You never doubted that they loved you too. They just saw him less, so he was more exciting. It was your part of the-reality-of-shared-custody: the fact that you were less exciting. They didn't joyously count down the moments til they got to see you again. You weren't the fun one. Sure, it stung a little. But you could deal with it. After all, the arrangements are the arrangements. Custody is custody. You're less exciting. That's life.

And you were satisfied. More than that: you were happy. You had your kids around almost all the time. You missed them terribly when they weren't home, but you'd be lying if you said you didn't appreciate those weekends. What couple doesn't look forward to some time without the kids around?

But the kids weren't satisfied. Or happy.

You were so sure it would smooth itself out. You were so sure it was just a phase they were going through.

You should have known better. You're their mother and you should have known better.

Karen came and asked you, serious and solemn, about the possibility of equal time. You felt a lot of things in that conversation: fear, at the idea of seeing your children less; sadness, that your kids were so unhappy; pride, that your seven-year-old daughter was so clear and well-spoken about the situation. You put your hand on hers and told her a softened version of the arrangements are the arrangements. "I would miss you very much if you weren't living here," you said. She looked up at you. "But we would still live here," she replied. "Just - just not quite as often. And Andrew and I miss Daddy now. We miss him a lot of the time." A few minutes later, she dropped it. "All right," she conceded.

You thought (hoped) that would be the end of it. But it wasn't. Andrew became progressively crankier, and Karen became quietly listless. You know your daughter, and you know that she has a manipulative streak. But this was different. This wasn't one of her oh-everyone-please-pity-me melodramas. There was a genuine change in her demeanor. She stopped telling endless rambling stories. She couldn't be persuaded to play at the Dawes' house. She was yawning a lot, and leaving her dinner plate half full.

The last straw came when her teacher called you. Her work was slipping. She wasn't finishing worksheets. She'd been unusually quiet and withdrawn, and had even fallen asleep at her desk that afternoon.

Even then, you made a last-ditch effort to avoid the custody issue. You stupidly offered to buy her one of the Kilbournes' puppies.

When you finally forced yourself to say "I'll talk to your father," you expected her to smile. She didn't. She just looked wary.

The next few weeks were a blur of lawyers and custody papers. Phone calls to Watson in the daytime, crying into Seth's neck at night. The worst catch-22 you've ever experienced: you want them to be happy, but you also want them.

The legal process caused surprisingly few headaches. It helped that you and Watson have, all things considered, a decent relationship. You both want what's best for the children. And you can't deny that he's a good dad.

The two of you, together, took the children to see the judge. Afterwards, you went to a cafe. It was a Monday afternoon and the small place had a smattering of customers. Mostly people in smart-casual work clothes, eating a late lunch. This was the place where you broke the news to the kids: they were getting equal time. A month with mommy, a month with daddy, alternating holidays. The kids were overjoyed. Watson grinned, ear to ear. You had meant to be cheerful, and you sort of were. But you couldn't stop yourself from crying, just a little.

The reality of it didn't truly hit you until the last day of the month. It was your last full day with them, and you were driving to the pet store. Your four-year-old son was endlessly excited about getting a hermit crab, a pet of his very own, and he sang pet-songs for the entire trip. B-I-N-G-O and Bingo was his name-o! You felt the familiar wistful Mom-feeling (oh-my-kids-are-growing-up-so-fast), but mixed with something new. A flicker of panic that rose in your throat, viciously combining with the oh-so-familiar yearn. You will only see your kids every second month. You will miss half their lives. You have no guarantee of being there for their little everyday milestones.

You wanted to slam the brakes and sob into the steering wheel.

But you held it together. You held it together the only way you could. You went into Mom-mode.

"Honey," you said to Andrew, "I'm not sure we'll be able to tell a boy hermit crab from a girl hermit crab."
Noordarklight90 on September 4th, 2011 11:09 am (UTC)
Impressive. Lisa's POV is so in-character here, that I could believe that anyone in a similar situation would have thoughts like this. The part about missing half of her kids' lives struck me especially. I also enjoyed the insight into Karen, considering I haven't read a lot of the BSC Little Sister books.

Overall, well-written and realistic. Keep up the good work!

(Oh, and is that Mallory in your user-pic?)
-: Baby-Sitters Club - Mallory Pike (flauntisabelquinn on September 5th, 2011 02:45 am (UTC)
Oh, that was a lovely comment to read ♥ thank you!! I read LS as a kid, but it only struck me as an adult how difficult that custody change would have been for Lisa. It's a huge adjustment for her.

(and yes, yes it is! It's from thesilverstrand :) )
Lisaozqueen on September 4th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
I love this so much. It's so - idk, aching? lol at my lack of word skills.

But oh :( Poor Lisa. This is beautifully written. I love the choice of 2nd person. ♥
-: Lost - Sawyer (glasses)isabelquinn on September 5th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
Aching is spot-on for what I was aiming for, so thank you! ♥

I always thought second person would be difficult. Turns out I find it a lot easier than first person. I find first person so ridiculously difficult ;)
gloriafan on September 4th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
Loved it.
-: Baby-Sitters Club - Hufflepuffisabelquinn on September 5th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
Thank you! :)
Caitlinamor_demi_alma on September 4th, 2011 10:01 pm (UTC)
Aww so sad. Damn, I even felt for karen, which is saying something. But I especially felt for Lisa. Very well done!
-: Beverly Cleary - Beezus Quimbyisabelquinn on September 5th, 2011 02:49 am (UTC)
Aww, thank you! :D Heh, I get a fiendish delight out of making people sympathise with Karen ;)

To be fair though, everything about Karen's reaction is straight from canon. I felt really sad for her when I reread the book.
Caitlinamor_demi_alma on September 5th, 2011 04:42 am (UTC)
I haven't read that one; I'll go do that right now, actually. or in a tad bit. XD Thanks for indirectly suggesting it, haha. Lovely fic! I hope more is on the way?
-: Lost - tough!Kateisabelquinn on September 7th, 2011 05:06 am (UTC)
Haha, enjoy. She's far less sympathetic in Karen's Stepmother ;)

Perhaps! I've been concentrating more on another fandom lately, so we'll see :)
Genihepburnforever on September 5th, 2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
Poor Lisa. You know something was wrong when Karen stopped being a chatter box. I'm glad that everything worked out smoothly. If only there was a way to make Lisa feel better about the whole thing. Wonderful job!
-: Andrea Corr - glassesisabelquinn on September 7th, 2011 05:05 am (UTC)
I can think of a few times in the LS books where Karen is deep-down upset about something, and she always seems to go quiet and listless. It makes me sad.

And thank you!! ♥
LuxKen27: BSC - solidarityluxken27 on October 13th, 2011 01:55 am (UTC)
I know I'm terribly late to the party, but this is exquisite. I haven't read many of the LS books, but I think you capture that all-consuming guilt that any parent would feel - especially a mother who's close to her kids, and has majority custody. I love how you draw those lines in parallel - how Lisa struggles with wanting her kids to be happy, and wanting to be happy herself.

The parent!fic that's coming out of this comm is just fantabulous! This is just another one to add to the list :)

(And now I want to read these books, because I can't imagine Karen ever being depressed about anything. o.O)
-: Enid Blyton - Naughtiest Girl (flowers)isabelquinn on October 13th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
Ohh, thank you so much!! ♥ I'm glad you think so, I was hoping it would get that all-consuming guilt without being... idk, too ~angsty?

(Karen's Stepmother is one that I rarely ever reread, even as a kid. Karen finds it harder than she expected to be a month-at-a-time resident at Watson's, and she's really really hurtful towards Elizabeth. It's awful to read about D:)
Takeitha: & Claudiaraisingirl99 on November 14th, 2011 12:20 am (UTC)
I found this thanks to a rec from luxken27, and I'm very glad I did. This is terrific! Such a lovely flow, with a fascinating look from Lisa's perspective as the events unfold. Also, so heartbreaking for her! What especially got to me was this:

You felt the familiar wistful Mom-feeling (oh-my-kids-are-growing-up-so-fast), but mixed with something new. A flicker of panic that rose in your throat, viciously combining with the oh-so-familiar yearn. You will only see your kids every second month. You will miss half their lives. You have no guarantee of being there for their little everyday milestones.

What an absolute nightmare for her. :(
-: Stock - blueberriesisabelquinn on November 14th, 2011 12:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!! :D I'm glad that it came across so well for you!

And yeah, poor Lisa :( that custody change would have been so awful.