Wednesday, April 19, 2017

{What It's Really Like To Co-Parent}

What's co-parenting really like?
It's hard, but not always and not necessarily for the reasons you may think. At first it's hard to adjust. It's hard to share. It's hard to face the guilt. It's hard to walk past a bedroom full of toys with no kiddo to play with them. It's hard not to take it personal when your son colors every picture for his daddy. It's hard to match schedules. It's hard to watch your family and friends pick sides, and sometimes even judge you (it's true, it happens. Especially when they think they know your story). It's hard to be out at an event and have everyone ask you where your child is. It's hard when everyone asks if your child will be at mom's house or dad's house this weekend. It's hard to miss your kiddo, oh so very hard. But it doesn't have to stay that way. 
Co-parenting has to be two people who love their child more than anything else and are willing to put their child's happiness above anything else, 100% of the time. And sometimes it means three or four people loving that child and putting their well-being first. Your (new/future) significant others play an important role in the co-parenting lifestyle. They too must be on board to co-exist, co-parent and love your child unconditionally. It's not always a picnic. You don't always agree on things, you don't always want to share your child, but what you want isn't what's important (is it ever anymore after having children?), it's about what your child wants, and that involves both parents.
Co-parenting does mean split schedules and shared holidays (e.g, I didn't have Henry for Easter), but it doesn't have to mean resentment over those missed holidays. Compromise. Compromise. Compromise. It's easy to be selfish, but co-parenting is give and take. You don't always have to follow the parenting agreement if you can learn to look at things positively and be creative. Lucky for us, a lot of times our events land on different days, so we compromise and approach almost every holiday individually as they come. We can't make it perfect all of the time, but most of the time it works out to benefit everyone and Henry gets double the fun. If you're rolling your eyes, glass half full, people!
Co-parenting also takes TONS of communication.
Daycare? "Hey it's cooking day at school tomorrow. I picked up some croissants, can you send them with H tomorrow?"
Sports? "Mind if I sign Henry up for soccer?"
Brushing teeth? "Are we both making sure he's keeping up on his hygiene?"
Sickness? "Hey H is sick, can you take him to the doc tomorrow?"
When two adults communicate and put their child's well-being first, it (hopefully) isn't as hard on the child and good things can come from it.
Good things like a huge smile on your baby's face whether he's going to mom's house or dad's house. Texts with pictures sharing those missed holiday moments, or just everyday moments. Things like FaceTime calls when one parent is out of town or just missing their little one a bit too much. Memories for your child that involve starting a sport for the first time and having everyone there (new baby sisters and all) to support him and to cheer him on.
It will always be hard to share your child. I imagine that never gets easier. I often think about what it will be like to "share" him on his wedding day and when he has a family of his own. It breaks my heart a little to think about that, I have to be honest, but I know it doesn't have to be any harder than it already is. I hope and pray that in some way it becomes more of a blessing than a curse. I hope it means more people to love him and more excuses to celebrate.
But, the main thing I know, is that it takes two people. Noting can be one-sided. It takes all hands on deck and everyone putting the child's happiness first. That's how we maintain a happy and healthy co-parenting lifestyle. It took time to adjust and get to where we are, but we've always put Henry first and I truly believe that that's the sole reason why Henry has remained poised, resilient and joyful.
He'll never know how much I truly miss him while he's away, and maybe he shouldn't. I can only do my best to make every moment that he's at home something that brings him joy, gratitude and everlasting memories.
To my momma's who know what it's like, don't be so hard on yourselves. Love yourself and love your babies. And if you're new to it, it gets easier. Find you a good support system and prevail!
The sun will rise again.
Melissa Loren


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