The definition of co-parenting is two parents who are not living together or in a romantic relationship, that decide to raise their children together. Sounds simple…Right? Maybe to someone who still watches Leave it to Beaver or The Partridge Family, but if you live in the twenty first century, simple is far from the truth. The truth? Now that is something that is longed for by everyone, or so they think, but the truth is that co-parenting SUCKS!!!! Knowing that you have to share the living being that came out of your body, causing you the most excruciating pain you have ever felt, that you loved from the moment the pee stick showed two lines, makes every bone in your body cringe. Sure, they may share part of “that man’s” DNA, but you carried them. You got stretch marks, hemorrhoids, spider veins, and your face and butt got so large that you almost needed a crow bar to get through the door, so you get dibs, right? No, that’s not right. You don’t get dibs. It was so hard for me to write that just now, that my fingers almost left my body to hide under the couch. It really does take two to tango. It’s Mother Nature. Whether it was the traditional way, in a petri dish, or the two of you signed the adoption papers, it took both of you. How do you get past the anger and hurt that a separation causes? Or maybe there was never really a relationship just somebody who pleasantly deposited a gift without intent, either way, if he wants to be involved and parent; you have the magnificent world of co-parenting.
Magnificent is a bit of an overstretch considering rainbows, waterfalls, and baby bunnies are magnificent, but it is doable. It is doable only if you put away every piece of dignity in your body, take the past and slam it into a locked chest and throw it in the ocean, and succumb to the fact that there are more important people in the world than you. That the little people in your life are worth the inner struggle of wanting to be in charge of their every move and to put it bluntly, be their favorite parent. There, I said it; yes you want to be the favorite parent. Who doesn’t? I want them to know that Jesus and Momma always love you, but in reality, if you are a co-parenter or a “normal family”, Jesus, Momma, and Daddy always love you.
It is so hard to agree to disagree or sometimes to even agree. How can you discuss religious matters, school activities, and the softball team with someone that you despise? I mean, I know his look. His look says I would rather roll you in my living room carpet and beat you with the child support you make me pay, than utter any amount of syllables to you. I get that. I know the feeling when you are speaking with someone and your mind drifts to all the ways you would like to shove something up their rear. It is odd what anger and bitterness does to someone. While I am thinking these things, I sometimes can look up at “the other” and see the blonde curly hair that were a gift to my girls; or if I am looking down, I see the long 2nd toe that they have and I do smile, slightly. With everything that I may not like about this person, they are half of my child. My beautiful, intelligent, quick witted, big hearted, child. My child didn’t ask to be in this situation. That’s when you know, that every ounce in your body is going to be spent trying to raise a well-rounded, moral human being that hopefully will not be greatly affected by the choices that their parents have made. That includes: smiling when you don’t want to, letting someone else make decisions, keeping your mouth shut, and ooze positivity about the other parent to your children. Whew, is that really possible? Coming from a classic Type A personality, with anger issues, and trouble not wanting to get revenge, yes it is.
Trust does not come easily for anybody, especially trusting someone who may have hurt you deeply. You have to have trust if co parenting is going to work. You may not trust “John”, but if you know he loves your kids and has their best interest at heart, you have to let your issues go. You know how you feel as a parent. He most likely, since he wants to be so involved, feels the same way. He will be leery when you have a new man in your life, just like you will be when some woman prances in and tries to take your place. That’s how women feel, but you know, as well as I do, that no woman can take the place of their mother, and no man could ever take the place of their father. So be happy!!! They have moved on and seem happy and trust this other person enough to be around your children, trust it too. Be thankful that there is one more person to love and support the beautiful creation that you two have made.
Lastly, but most importantly, never talk bad about the other parent. That parent is half of your child. Your daughter or son may hear something and take that to mean that if Daddy is bad, then part of me is bad too. Try to remember all of the good things about their Dad and compliment them on that. “Your smile looks just like your Daddy’s.” That one statement brings so much love and joy to a little one. Like I said, your pride is gone. Suck it up, breathe deep, and do what needs to be done.
The 10 most important things to remember when co-parenting are:
The other parent is half of your child.
You are not always right.
Your children need their other parent.
The other parent needs them.
What happened between the two of you did not happen between the other person and your child.
The more people who love and support your child, the better.
Compromise, Compromise, Compromise
Keep negativity about the other parent from your lips.
Keep each other updated with phone calls and other communication when the children are with you.
Have a mediator, unbiased, that will sit down and listen to both sides if a compromise cannot be made.
LaDonna A. Pitman, a long time resident of Paducah, Kentucky, enjoys her career as a healthcare provider, but also is a devoted wife and mother. She, along with her husband Jay, enjoy the ups and downs of everyday life with their blended family. LaDonna has made a commitment to share "The Truth" about everyday life in the 21st century, including; co Parenting, blended families, grief, and marriage.
I think amusement parks are designed to put parents to the test. If you can survive eight-plus hours of over-anxious, over-sugared kids (most of whom are not yours); the longest of long lines for rides that go in a simple circle on a track; and souvenir stores that are traps — all with patience, a smile, and flush wallet — then you are an amazing parent and even better human being. Bless you.
I, however, have failed this test before. It was late July in Southern California. So, hotter than hell. Worse yet, I was 7 months pregnant. This combo didn’t make three days at Disneyland sound appealing. At. All. Not even the allure of the Mouse’s beloved churros could convince me this was a good idea. Nevertheless, I put on a happy face because my family, especially my toddler, wanted to go. And I felt I owed it to him since he would soon have to share us with his baby brother.
It truly was a last hoorah. But not with the fireworks I hoped to see. On day two, the Cars-themed ride had an hour+ wait and despite my protest better judgment we actually stood there — sweltering, fidgeting, trying to find a sliver of shade and drop of water (that was me, not the Little Dude). Then we ate lunch. Then we went to the bathroom. Then he was on the floor of the restaurant and I had to pick him up and carry him away like a heavy sack of potatoes. We were those people.
Since it’s been months, I can’t remember what triggered the meltdown and resulted in a bus trip back to the hotel for a four-hour nap. But I certainly know what led up to it. In an effort to show him a good time, we relaxed our family “rules” too much and sadly robbed him of the fun we intended. He was overwhelmed, over-stimulated, over it.
Honestly, I had sensed his need for a “loose” routine the day before and had voiced it to Dad and Grandma. But they felt confident he could handle the temporary change of pace because he was older, he was in good spirits (at the time), and it’s Disneyland! I didn’t argue because I knew I was the cranky one. And I was tired of being Debbie Downer. So I ignored my parenting instincts in favor of frozen lemonade, Mickey Mouse dolls, balloons, and a late-night firework show because I didn’t want him to remember Mommy as the stick-in-the-mud parent.
I was stupid. Exhausted. Stupidly exhausted.
Then, I found myself at two theme parks last week. Crazy, yes. Stupidly exhausted, still. Lesson learned, I think so. Because I was not begging for a repeat performance, I approached these winter break activities differently. I downed a shot before we set out. Not really. I can’t even do this since I’m breastfeeding.
Instead, I didn’t make any promises, conditions, or bargains. I set limits and stuck to them. I made sure we didn’t try to squeeze every last minute and penny out of the parks. There were little to no treats. The gift was the experience and the $5 I gave him to spend throughout his days. He loved being empowered to decide if he wanted to buy an ice cream versus a Lego spaceship; it avoided any pleas/whines/cries for stuff. We got to the park late and left a few hours early even if it meant gently letting down my little negotiator. For everything else? I simply said, "We'll see" or "I’ll have to think about it." It was my polite way of saying “no” without sounding like an uncool broken record. And it works wonders even when you’re not at Legoland or the Safari Park.
~ The Other Sarah
We wish it was as easy as "take two of these, and call us in the morning," but alas we're a bit under the weather in these parts. And you know how there are no sick days for moms! Sigh. Cough. Cough.
Because we blog and keep you up-to-date in real time, we want to send our apologies in advance for taking out time to recover. Please also consider this an SOS call for get-well suggestions. If you have any miralce cures, please send them our way. We hope to be back next week with a clean bill of health and fresh take on the salty and sweet in our lives.
And, in the meantime, here are a few blast-from-the-past posts that will make you feel better:
Spring Yarn Wreath Tutorial (to pass the time when healing)