For the most part, I've loved co-parenting with my ex-husband. We live within seven minutes of each other and our schedules are fairly flexible, so we pick up the kids from school together, share meals, and even do some of our shopping together. We also talk multiple times a day to check in and make sure the other parent is aware whenever paperwork is due at school, or if one of the kids has left their backpack in the car.
I'm thankful for my ability to remain friends with my ex-husband beyond our marriage, and I feel extremely blessed that our divorce was filled with kindness and understanding. I do, however, hate that I have to do so many parenting duties on my own, especially because we used to share them. During these moments, co-parenting can feel incredibly isolating.
My ex and I have always parented well together. We've never had any major disagreements about how the children should be disciplined, and if we did, we always discussed them respectfully and considerately. Parenting came totally naturally to us, and I didn't think that would change when we split up.
Yet following our divorce, there are times when I feel his absence acutely. During my marriage, for instance, I was never the parent who got up to feed the kids in the middle of the night. That was my ex-husband's role. If I ever did get up, he'd always join me so I didn't have to feel as if I was doing it alone. Now, I hate the late nights when my kids cry and can't go back to sleep on their own. The other night, my son was crying in bed for a while, so I lay down with him. Doing it without my ex-husband made me feel really, really lonely.
When I'm at the end of my rope, when the kids' pajamas still aren't on and it's past bedtime, I wish that co-parenting was a little bit easier.
I don't think of myself as a single parent by any means. I have an actively involved ex, a partner I live with, and family members who don't live too far from us. My ex also lives only seven minutes away, so if I'm ever having serious issues with the kids, I can always call him to come right over.
Yet there are moments that are incredibly hard to handle alone, like when my kids throw a tantrum over their bedtime. During those moments, the seven-minute difference between me and my ex feels like seven hours. I often wish I could just call him to back me up and offer me some extra support.
This isn't to discredit the role that my current partner fills. He's still learning what it means to be a parent, and I'm grateful for his patience as I learn how to do this alongside him. But when I'm at the end of my rope, when the kids' pajamas still aren't on and it's past bedtime, I wish that co-parenting was a little bit easier.
I used to believe that co-parenting would be the next best thing to sharing a home with my ex and being together as a family. For the most part, it has been. But it has its drawbacks, and the fact that I'm not raising my children with my husband breaks my heart a little bit.
I used to believe that co-parenting would be the next best thing to sharing a home with my ex and being together as a family. And for the most part, it has been. But it also has its drawbacks.
When the kids come home from school upset about something another child has said to them, or when they can't go back to sleep after having a nightmare, I miss parenting with my ex-husband; I miss that I always had a hand to hold, an arm to hold me up. Once, my son told me someone was picking on him at school, and I started crying — not just for my son, but also for myself, for having to navigate this without the person who would praise whatever words of wisdom I attempted to give my child.
I hope and believe that time will help me grow more confident in handling these parenting moments on my own. I know I'm capable of doing so, but the truth is, the fact that I'm not raising my children with my husband breaks my heart a little bit.