To celebrate my 25th birthday, I'm getting real about the challenges of navigating the tricky relationship of coparenting!
If you're currently or have been a single mom, especially one that coparents, you know this isn't something you ever expected. So when someone says "it's nice that you get a break!" (yes, people say this often) it is perfectly acceptable to have a slight desire to kick them.
Why did I choose today to post this? Because I see 25 as my year of growth. This past year, my life has changed A LOT. I have lost people I thought would be around forever, and I've gained some amazing friends who support my journey as a mother. This year has also been the year I looked beyond the feeling of guilt and chose my happiness. I learnt there was no way I could be a happy mom, if I wasn't a happy person. I chose to raise my son in a world where his parents are HAPPY, even if they aren't together.
Needless to say, this world I chose for my son isn't perfect because hi: we're new here. I'm still trying to figure out how to do this "right" or if that's even possible.
So for anyone who thinks single moms or any mom for that matter: "get a break", I'm here to walk you through the mental & emotional phases of my coparenting experience.
this is what I call the phase that never ends! I've always been a planner, so most times this one comes easily to me, but often I forget how mentally draining it is to keep this calendar up to date & equal. I find we're updating our shared calendar DAILY to accommodate each other's crazy schedules & last minute changes. Some weeks it's so easy, other weeks it feels nearly impossible.
THE IDENTITY CRISIS
Ok, so this one I struggle with. It's comes right after I kiss my son goodbye- he happily climbs into his dad's arms and off he goes. After this moment, I find myself taking hours to figure out what I'm going to do. There is always a list: groceries, clean, cook, laundry. The struggle is finding things to do that isn't work related. You find yourself stuck in this place where you don't identify with your non-mom friends, but you also don't clearly identify with your mom-friends either who are likely busy spending time with their family.
We've always been good at keeping each other updated and sometimes even narrating our son's day through pictures and videos. As much as I love seeing my son in pictures or over Face Time, it brings on some major guilt. I think it's fair to say the guilt doubles. There's the guilt of being away at work and then the guilt of just being away because you're coparenting. You miss mini-milestones, non stop giggle sessions and all the snuggles.
I wish I could tell you I've figured this one out, but I haven't.
Past the emotions, things still have to get done. There is no way I could spend hours doing groceries alone with a baby, not to mention bringing groceries into the house with a baby. I tried once, and it was also the moment I found out our stroller's "one hand fold" was a bunch of nonsense!
I have to admit, it's not all sad. As much as the pictures & videos make me feel like I'm missing out - it also gives me great joy to see my son and his dad create an amazing bond. I recognize that coparenting isn't something every parent wants to do, so I value the time my son spends with his dad. The struggles & disagreements we face through this relationship are ours. They are private, our son does not see them & it allows him to be equally happy in either home, with either parent.
This one is my favourite. The moment I open the door & there he is with his smile, reaching for me like nothing has changed! & suddenly, everything feels right again.
The truth is, I could be doing this completely wrong. Just like motherhood, there is no how-to manual on being a single mom. We do what feels right to us & what works for us. I'm opening up about this because I want people to understand the diversity that exists amongst single moms. Some of us have help, some of us are completely alone. Some of us are happy as single moms and some of us are still trying to make our romantic relationships work. Some of us are absolutely crushing this single mom thing.
One thing we all have in common: when our babies are away, none of us are on a break from being a mom.
Like I said, I'm new here so I'm no expert - but I'm here to recognize that enough of us are working through these types of parenting relationships for it to be openly talked about.
lots of love,