Ladies and gentlemen, you have had the opportunity to enjoy this week’s guest blogger in a few of her past Frank Love contributions. She brought you Ghosts of Relationships Past and The Other Side of a Table and a Marriage. This week, she takes us through her journey from marriage, to divorce, to successful co-parenting.
I am convinced that parenting is the toughest job I’ll ever love. For a myriad of reasons, I never considered joining the military, but becoming a parent was something I always knew I would do.
Several things attracted me to the man who would become my children’s father. He was responsible, respectful, good with children and committed to our community. When we exchanged wedding vows, mine included a line about making babies. Loving him was deeply connected to creating life with him.
Yet, we are no longer together. Our breakup was challenging, and we don’t even live in the same state. It hasn’t always been easy, but, to this day, I genuinely enjoy raising our children together.
Four days ago, I took my boys to their dad for their first summer alone with him. ALONE is how I will sleep (well, mostly) for the next two months. ALONE is how I will work through my morning routine for the next two months. And ALONE is how I will quietly meditate – experiencing solitude, unusual amounts of silence and the sweetness of having much more control over my time and routine while my kids are away.
There were several things my ex and I had to work on when transforming our relationship from a marriage, through a painful split, and finally into one that is a co-parenting relationship first and foremost. We worked on this for years before getting to where we are now – a place where our gratitude for the relationship we are successfully able to have outweighs any other feelings or dealings caused by the relationship we weren’t able to save. But before we were able to find new ways of working together, we both had to step up to the sometimes difficult task of allowing each other to occupy the same level of importance in our children’s lives.
I was raised by a single mother with no co-parent by some combination of choice and circumstances. It was hard to my mother, and on me. It wasn’t the absence of my father that haunted me, but the profound stress and pressure that raising me on her own seemed to cause my mom.
My own children’s father was, and still is, a keeper. When we had children together, I never doubted that he would always be an active, key part of their lives – no matter what happened between the two of us. But once we split, I had to learn that having him in my life and theirs would mean that I don’t get to make all the decisions, or be the most important person in their lives. He is as much their parent as I am, and although we have different things to offer our children, his contribution to their lives is not optional.
I must admit that this alfa-parent stuff had me stumped for a while. But we all have to give up or get through our issues eventually – especially when refusing to do so could hurt our children. A good parent is a godsend in a world where so many children have only one parent, or none. And I’m exceedingly grateful that my children have two good ones. If you have someone safe and sober who wants to love and parent his or her child, take advantage of that blessing and allow your child to do the same.
Co-parenting is the new divorce; it’s the new paradigm for getting your single-parent self some rest. And it’s the way to give your children a family long after your relationship with their other parent has ended. Please embrace it, if it fits.
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