Posts tagged ‘Co-parenting’
You may accidentally meet The Girlfriend inside the grocery store with no makeup on, wearing your workout attire from trip to the gym five hours ago… or maybe you spot her on your way out of a bar, as you arrogantly walk past with your girls at your side. You never know, you may be like me and meet the new girlfriend when she comes down the stairs of the house she now shares with your ex and your son, as you’re picking up your little guy for the weekend. However and whenever you meet, it’s awkward, stressful and laced with anxiety.
It’s taken some time for me to get used to the idea of my ex’s girlfriend. I basically ignored her existence for at least a year, all subconsciously of course. Actually, we all pretended she didn’t exist – my ex, my son and myself – by never really mentioning her, ever. It’s not like I disliked her or wanted to be back with my ex, it was just the idea of her that bothered me for some reason.
After some soul-searching, I realized, her being The Girlfriend isn’t what boiled my blood. It was being a mother figure to my son that really got to me. Since then, I’ve dealt with that issue and tried to ”Let Go” as they say…but the dynamic is still wierd and awkward to me, even after several friendly encounters and even a family dinner at their house (which I would advise against for anyone thinking of doing this… I have two words for you – Neutral Ground)
Is Visitation Just for Dad?
The latest awkward situation began this morning, while listening to my voice mail. In between the work messages, I hear, “…I will be out-of-town for a few days, but ‘Girlfriend’ will pick him on Thursday… Just wanted to let you know.”
I sat there in a daze, staring at the kitchen counter. The phone continued to play back messages into my ear, but my brain was no longer listening. Instead it was asking a string of questions like, “How do we feel about this?” “Why is this bothering us?” “Are we just being controlling here or is this truly not acceptable?”
Unfortunately, here I am, hours later with the brain still asking the same questions. Am I overreacting? Should my son go to his Dad’s house during his normal visitation schedule, even though Dad won’t be there? I know it’s important for him to have a relationship with The Girlfriend, but does that extend to her getting visitation too?
Oh, the joys of Co-Parenting…
I definitely learned the hard way, it’s not the person you marry you have to worry about, it’s the one you have children with. After a divorce, you can choose to never see your ex-spouse again. Have a child with them and it’s a different story. They will be in your life FOREVER. Despite what everyone thinks, it does not just end when the child turns 18. There’s college, graduations, weddings and grandchildren to deal with after the custody arrangement ends. Not only will your ex spouse be an eternal part of your life, somehow they find a way to affect those around you, including family, friends and especially significant other’s.
Looking back, marriage is easy compared to Co-Parenting after a divorce.
Whether you have a good or bad relationship with your child’s mother or father, you are always going to have issues come up. Always.
(and let me tell you from personal experience, it is not easy to work with an ex on touchy subjects such as parenting techniques when the reason your relationship ended was due to the inability to effectively communicate….despite a year of counseling)
Right now our Co-Parenting struggle is over which school district our lil guy will attend for kindergarten next year. My ex wants him to go to school where they live with his girlfriend and her daughter from a previous marriage…while I want him to go to school in my neighborhood so I can provide the stability and structure that is non-existent in their household. My ex is a good dad, for the most part. He cares, he’s there when his work schedule doesn’t get in the way and he is goofy and fun. And we normally get along pretty well, as long as we don’t talk about anything heavy. Without getting into the whole ordeal…I just that I think he and my son would benefit much more if we changed our current schedule so that he was ‘Weekend Dad’ and I was ‘School Night Mom’. That way, our son could have consistency and structure during the week, then have unrestricted fun and sugar overloads on the weekend.
Unfortunately this one looks like it could get ugly…which is too bad. That’s never good, for anyone involved.
I am truly amazed by how much our lives are affected by timing. You can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, meet Mr. Right when you’re already married to Mr. Wrong or just happen to read a witty status update on Facebook that gets you through a really rough day. Lauren’s post on mylifeincomplete.com the other day, could not have come at a more perfect time.
As I’ve mentioned before, I recently found Lauren while winding through this intricate world of bloggers and really connected with her well written posts. We share a remarkable number of similarities and life experiences. In her recent post, Beautiful Blogger, Lauren explains how she received the Beautiful Blogger Award twice in one week – which I must add, is very well deserved!! She went on to say that by accepting the award she must pass the honor on to eight other deserving blogs.
As I read through the post, I just about fell out of my chair when I saw her first honoree was Single Soccer Mom at My 30′s! While the award has the look to be the beginnings of a blogging chain letter, I still am honored that Lauren, a beautiful, talented writer, would consider my blog in the same category!
Once again Lauren, you have inadvertently influenced my life. This last week or so, I have been wondering if I should continue blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and find joy in sharing my single mom struggles… but I do have very limited time in my already hectic Single Soccer Mom schedule to maintain a blog and continuously pump out new material. I just found myself asking, “Is this really worth the time and effort?”
Well, it looks one person thinks so… Thank you Lauren! I guess I’ll keep at this blogging thing for a little while longer
Passing the Torch
Now, onto bestowing the honors to another Beautiful Blog…
Since I am considerably new to the blogging community and am still trying to find my way through its elaborate web, I haven’t been following that many blogs yet. If I were to pass on the award, the winners would be automatically selected from the mere list of 4 or 5 blogs that I follow.
Therefore, I’ve decided to pass the award on to a blog that I feel every parent should visit at least once. This site did not win on aesthetics alone. I am giving Connected Parenting – The Blog the honor of Beautiful Blogger for the beautiful things it can do to your family.
I recently came across the blog and was intrigued by the subject matter. During a two-hour lunch break, I found myself wandering through a local bookstore in search of the book of the same name, Connected Parenting, by Jennifer Kolari. After reading just a few chapters and applying the techniques described within those pages, I have seen the bond between my little man and I blossom even more. While my son has never been a problem or difficult child, he has been known to throw a mean tantrum every now and then…especially after coming back from Dad’s house. I found being a ‘connected parent’ helps me stay calm during those situations and helps my son express what’s really going on beneath the incessant “No…I don’t wanna!”
Thank you Lauren and Connected Parenting for making my life more beautiful and giving me more things to blog about
Congratulations to the other winners…
I’m just now getting the phone call.
They just finished dinner and are on their way home.
“Good night sweetheart, I love you!”
As I hang up the phone, I take a deep breath, trying to reduce the anxiety I feel building in my chest.
It’s 9:15…he just ate dinner…and is now on his way home?
My ex and I have never been on the same page when it comes to Parenting. It was ONE of the factors that lead to our divorce. I won’t get into the mental abuse, controlling behaviors and serious family baggage that went along with our differences in parenting. A quick piece of advice for anyone looking to get married… TALK.
Before we got married, we never discussed things like Politics, Religion, Parenting styles or most importantly, Money. We figured that all that stuff would just work its self out somehow. Love would conquer all. Hah! Really people, pre-marital counseling. Look into it.
The differences in parenting styles are not only a problem when you are married, but becomes a huge source of anxiety, stress and sometimes anger when trying to co-parent.
When we first separated, I had a really hard time with the fact that my son’s world was significantly different when he spent time at his father’s house. Bedtime was different, rules were different and discipline seemed non-existent. I knew how much children need consistency and stability in life, especially when coming from a divorced household, and it killed me to see that he his two worlds were not aligned.
Had I not read, “Good Parenting through Your Divorce” by Mary Ellen Hannibal, I’m not sure where I would be now. Who knows, maybe I would be wearing a stylish white jacket with lots of straps and buckles and living in a bright white room with lots of padding. One of the chapters resonates in my brain and always reminds me that I can’t control what goes on over there. I can only do the best that I can when he is with me and let go of all the rest.
Believe me, it’s not easy. I struggle with it every day.
When I feel my chest tightening or hear myself saying “he’s doing what over there?” I take my deep cleansing breath and remind myself that I have a beautiful, smart little boy who has two parents that love him. So what if one is lets him watch Rated R movies and gives him Trix and Fruity Pebbles for breakfast…
Okay… Deep Breath…
My boyfriend can always tell if I am out in public or in the office when I answer my cellphone, just by hearing my “Hello.”
“Oh, it’s office voice… you must be at the office”
Apparently I am a member of the minority group of cellphone users that actually respect the other individuals in the room and actually want to keep their private life, private. It’s amazing what you can learn about someone in a waiting room, coffee shop or even restrooms these days. Why do people think that (1) no one else can hear them but the caller on the other end and (2) that no one is eavesdropping, secretly listening to every single word of their private conversation?
Well, due to the lovely invention of cellphones, I have gotten to know the other mothers in the lobby area of our 4:35pm Mon & Wed Swim Sessions. Strangely enough, we do not speak to each other, despite this being our third week of lessons. Instead we transfer personal information back and forth via phone conversations on our personal communication devices.
Over the past weeks, I have learned that one of the mothers is also Single, possibly in her mid thirties, has two kids and is going to school. Each Monday and Wednesday her boy and adorable little girl happily join their instructors in the water and enjoy every minute of their half our session. Today was definitely different.
Today, her little boy kept screaming at his instructor, so much so, his poor little face actually turned red. After 5 minutes, the mother stepped inside the enclosure of the indoor pool and made her way over to the unhappy swimmer.
Just then the boy’s father walked into the lobby, surveyed the scene and made his way in through the door. Right there, I knew exactly what the problem was. I could tell from his body language that he wasn’t a full time Dad, as the situation appeared to be making him a bit uncomfortable. Mom saw Dad walk in, but did not display any positive signs of acknowledgement.. which for me, completely confirmed my assumption.
The parents hovered over the pool, while the instructor tried to calm the boy down. He definitely seemed bothered by something, but the something seemed much bigger than just the swim lesson. Mom and Dad walked back into the lobby, sat down and begin their small talk.
Listening to their conversation, I could feel my anxiety level rise and my breath begin to shorten. I looked down and noticed I had automatically crossed my arms and my foot was now shaking back and forth, which are my classic signs of anxiety and withdrawal. I then realized that I was living in their moment. Although, in reality, it was the two of them talking, in my world it was me and my ex.
Eavesdropping on their conversation and peering into their world of co-parenting made me realize just how anxious and stressed out I can get when having to deal with my ex husband… even though we have a decent, civil relationship.
Just like her little boy was affected by his father’s appearance at swim lessons and most likely their overall family dynamic, my little boy is also affected by our situation. Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon my ex picks up our son from daycare. The very next day I get a report from our provider saying his energy level was off the charts the day before. He gets so wound up, or anxious, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. Seeing the other boy trying to deal with his emotions in the pool, reminded me that we’re not the only ones living this way.
I don’t know why it helps to see or know someone going through your same situation, but it definitely does. Knowing there is another individual going through the same struggles or stressors in life, makes the day a little easier to get through. Sitting there, watching my son floating in the sparkling blue water and realizing we are not the only ones, put me at ease and made my day even better