Co-parenting can be a difficult road. One mother wants to share with the father of her child how to make things easier and offers new insight, surprising even herself.
Dear Divorced Dad,
I am not the fun one, as you you know. Despite the fact that I see this perfect child of ours daily and steer her toward her inevitable greatness, I lament that fact. Many times, I have wanted to throw my hands in the air and run toward the car, calling out to our daughter to come join me on a spontaneous trip to the movies. But then, and it usually only takes a second for the direction in my head to change, I remember dinner needs to be made, homework must be supervised, this is the night when her tennis uniform must be washed. And on it goes. My movie plan flies out the window.
Sometimes, I am jealous of you.
This year, when you took all the kids on a cruise, including our grown ones, I was happy for you all, but I also realized that I might very well never be able to plan such an event, not that I would choose the sea with my inner ear thing, but you get my point. My money goes toward massive amounts of groceries consumed in days, acne medication, school lunches, field trip money, co-pays, gas money to travel here and there, last-minute supplies for projects and whatever else surfaces. I never have any cash in my purse. I know you consistently pay your child support and I am so appreciative that you do, but I don’t think you understand how expensive raising a child every single day is. So when I ask you to help and you refuse, or yell at me for requesting, it feels unfair. Every expense is not covered by child support.
Even though I spend the majority of the time with our kid, my time is still valuable. When you give a date and time to pick up our girl, please stick to it. Arriving early, or late causes my family to have to scramble to prepare for your arrival, or may put a kink into adult’s only time with my BF if you show up later than agreed upon.
I wish the priorities for our child matched. I guess the way I figure it, if our child is having trouble in a core class at sschool, then I don’t think fast-pitch softball becomes the focus. I am not trying to hamper her outgoing nature, but I am responsible for her passing her classes, and for getting her to graduation. Then I will rest. LOL. When you talk to her would you mind backing me up? When a divide is sensed by our astute kiddo, does it surprise you to know she will play us against each other? I don’t want that either. Yes, it is annoying.
Please speak kindly about me. If you are confused about my decisions, ask me. If you could refrain from using our kid as a carrier pigeon that would be awesome, too. I am available and I am so ready to work with you on all matters, the schedule, sharing holidays, splitting the cost on a new-fangled whatever-is-in-now. Let’s decide how we will talk to her separately and together. If you grant me this, I will give you the same respect. When I am disrespected, it is really hard to not get emotional and want to strike back. At the end of the day, the kids are forced to pick a side and we both know that’s not fair. Can you tell me what pisses you off? I guarantee I am a grownup and can handle it. Maybe I never showed you that side. It’s there and dare I say, delightful.
I respect your position. Did you know that? You are missed and thought of by the little one each day. She knows who you are and loves you beyond description. I hope you know that distance doesn’t equal a lessening of love in her heart and that you never need to battle insecurities, or feel threatened. She’s not going anywhere. Remember my craptacular relationship with my dad? That is the absolute last thing I want our darling to contend with. And I worry that her own relationships will be affected, that she will learn the wrong way to be with a person and love a person if we are both insecure about our roles. I mean, what are we so uneasy about? We are her parents after all. Our stations are the same as they have always been.
You have the tough job, you know that? I don’t know how you do it, and I want to thank you for taking on this role because no matter how shitty things between us might get over stupid stuff, you still allow me the choicest role: being her custodial mother. I don’t think I have ever thanked you.
These years keep flying by don’t they? I’m so glad you love her and that your SO loves her, too. It means she is surrounded by interest, caring, and people who want the best for her. I hope you know I only wish you a good life because then she benefits. Then her confidence soars, and all is right in her world…adoration is such a grounding emotion when you are a faltering teenager trying to figure out the world.
Can we pass the olive branch? Can we stand down and think for a moment of each other and our unique roles? And can we work harder on being kinder? It doesn’t have to be weird and hurtful when you hang out in the driveway, shifting your weight from one foot to the other as the kid jams all the stuff she’ll need in her weekend bag. We each have our own lives with one very sacred lifeline, our amazing child. Imagine if we allowed all the goodness that flows from her to heal the rifts in our co-parenting world. I think it can happen.
In closing, let me finally say thank you for sacrificing your time so I could have it. Thank you for giving me this child. I cherish her every day. Because of your decision, you have given me some of my most joyful moments. I haven’t forgotten that even if I can’t express it eloquently. But I know it is true, and I am grateful.
Edited Photo: Flickr/Gerry Thomasen