Co-parenting: when it's good, it's great. When it's bad, it's a disaster.
I’ve been so excited to write this post. To tell you all about how awesome co-parenting has been. How I was able to push past the pain and successfully forge a common ground with my son’s father for the sake of our child. How we would text and call one another most days to talk about how Ollie was doing. How we were even going on “co-parenting days” to play centres and to friends houses. How we we were taking family photos together and discussing the possibility of a family trip.
We were doing so well, I’d think. Co-parenting isn’t all that bad, I’d tell my friends. You just have to ignore the ache in your heart for the smile on your son’s face and it was all worth it, I’d write in my positive blog post all about how great we were doing and how proud of myself I was. We hadn’t had a single argument in almost two months, I’d boast to his mum.
But then… something snapped. I can’t tell you what. Or why. Nothing in particular changed. But I woke up one day and I couldn’t do it anymore. I could no longer ignore the gnawing ache in my heart when our son looked up at us like his world finally made sense once again. Or the stab in my stomach when he’d hop in another car at the end of our co-parenting day. Or the familiar pang of insecurity every time he checked his phone or walked off to take a phone call. Because, you see, the pain of his betrayal was still lingering. But somehow, I’d manage to bury it so I could pretend my little family still existed, even if it was just for the 10 minutes we spent on the phone. But there’s only so long you can go on pretending.
The anger was still seething just below the surface. I found myself fighting with him about, well, pretty much everything. I hated when I needed him when Ollie sliced his finger open and blood was spurting everywhere, he was busy with his girlfriend. I hated when all of the other little families we knew were heading down the coast for the long weekend, it was just Ollie and I driving down with the dog while he hung out with his mates. I hated we’d been replaced for a bachelor lifestyle, while I was left to do everything for our son 90% of the time. I hated there were sometimes days between texts to check how his son and I were doing.
I know it’s not about me. I know it’s about our son. But right now, it’s a far better option for Ollie to see his parents apart and happy, than hanging out together and hating one another. Because that’s the thing, relationships peak and trough. You have to ride the waves and react accordingly to what the situation requires. So if it’s better that we keep out of one another’s lives to avoid conflict, then so be it. For now, I need to focus on letting go of my own anger, and I need him to be well away from me during this process, unless he wants to double as an emotional punching bag.
Co-parenting is hard. The more we beat ourselves up for not doing it well enough for the sake of the kids, the more pressure it places on them and the situation, and the higher the chance of screwing it up for good. I’m confident Oliver’s dad and I will get to the point where we can hang out and even go on family holidays. But that time is not right now. There’s too much I have to deal with, and so does he, before we can reach that stage.
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve managing to successfully co-parent, or even if you’re finding it as difficult as me. Surely I’m not alone. What’s the secret to an amicable co-parenting relationship? What did you have to sacrifice/push past/compromise to make it work?