I Co-Parent With My Ex, & Here's What I Wish I Could Say To Him
To my ex-partner and the father of my son,
The birth of our son was just 5 years ago, but it feels like a distant memory. The entire pregnancy was unexpected and unplanned. We managed to get our finances together, grow up, and become parents in the span of nine months. We were a team. It was me, you, and our baby against the world. It’s hard to think of a time in my life when I was as hopeful as I was then. I felt like we could actually make a go of being a family.
Before our baby was old enough to sit up, say his first words, or walk, however, the cracks in our foundation began to emerge. We argued about the dishes, money, why the baby was crying. Our arguments were frequent and often endless. Our bitterness and anger grew like weeds, overcrowding any beauty that tried to sprout in its place.
In the end, the constant pressure to uphold this perfect image of a proper family was an insurmountable hurdle, and I started to dread the time of day when we would both be home together. I can’t think of the exact time or argument that changed everything, and honestly, it truly doesn’t matter now. The past doesn't have to dictate our co-parenting relationship and the way we raise our son together. The only thing that I care about is us working together to raise our son together, as a family.
In many respects, you are a great dad. You're dependable, you show up when my son needs you, and you provide support for him. However, you refuse to be present when I am around. You never want us to spend time around our son as a single unit, and I find that incredibly disheartening.
Remember when I invited you out for a day trip with our baby? I told you the date and time. I said that I'd pay for our son's ticket, so all you had to do was get yours and show up. "It'd be good for him to see us together, as a family," I said. But you never showed up.
More than anything, I want our son to look back on his childhood and remember us as a family, however nontraditional we may be.
I was raised by divorced parents who I never saw in the same room together. So were you. I told you that I always envisioned giving my child more than that, no matter what happened between us, and you agreed. So imagine how surprised I was when you flat-out told me that you didn't want to be around me, even if it were for our son's benefit. I don't understand how we've gotten to the point where my presence has become a detriment to our co-parenting.
To be fair, the feeling is mutual: I don't have an undying fire burning in me to be around you, just for the heck of it. But I wish you would consider putting your negative feelings about me aside, so we can raise our baby together. Our son deserves to be raised by his mother and his father. He deserves to see them interact beyond just five-minute drop-offs.
You used to be my best friend. You made sacrifices for our family that I'll never forget. Those memories are precious to me. When our baby boy grows up, I know he'll remember all that you’ve done for him, and how your love for him was unconditional and boundless. But more than anything, I want him to look back on his childhood and remember us as a family, however nontraditional we may be.
When we decided to go our separate ways, you promised me that we would always spend birthdays, holidays, and important events together. You said we would split all of the financial costs right down the middle. You told me that we would always be a family because, regardless of our relationship, our son seeing us as a happy family was your first priority. So far, none of this has turned out to be true.
I don't hate you. I don't even dislike you. But I think that we desperately need to mend our broken family.
When we first became parents, I thought there was no one on Earth I'd rather have a child with. For the most part, I still feel this way, and I truly believe that even though we ended our relationship, that doesn't mean our friendship has to suffer. I don't hate you. I don't even dislike you. But I think that we desperately need to mend our broken family. We don't have to move in together and sing "Kumbaya" over a campfire on the weekends. Maybe we can start with holidays, or a few day trips. But I think our son must see us happily working together to raise him.
It has been about seven months since we've embarked on this journey of shared custody. I know we are both trying our best right now, and I don't expect anything to change overnight. But I want you to know that I am ready to move on and start the next chapter in our family. I hope that soon, you will be too.