Why can’t people get their shit together? I’m just wondering.. I mean, aside from having postpartum depression and generally falling apart on a daily basis, I’m a pretty together person.
One of the areas that I have ZERO patience for is parents who are unable to deal with each other in a respectable manner when it comes to their children. I don’t think that you need a particularly high IQ to figure out that acting like a rational, mature adult is in your child’s best interest. My daughter T’s dad and I split up when she was two. We weren’t married (bless my Catholic mother’s heart, she handled it like a trouper and loves my daughter to bits), but we were engaged after the fact and bought a house together. Pretty much from the time T was born I knew that inevitably he and I would split, but we sure did try. He’s a great dad and I don’t know many who love their kids as much as he does, but we just weren’t compatible and in the end we couldn’t hide from that fact. I think some people were really waiting for us to break up, they saw it coming, but we had a lot to consider and we wanted to do it right, and do it with kindness and with consideration and respect for our little girl, who didn’t ask to brought into the middle of any it.
That’s what kills me. I’m the one that chose to have a baby, she didn’t choose me OR her dad for that matter (although I’d like to think she’d opt not to trade us in if given the chance!). I simply cannot stand watching or hearing about parents who make life a living hell for their kid/s because they can’t stand each other. I’ve had moments where T’s dad was the last person in the world I felt like dealing with, and I know he’s felt the same way about me, but we decided from day one that ALL that mattered was T. We have committed to that and stuck to it continuously for six years. Through moving, new schools, new significant others, my marriage and my two subsequent children… we focus only on T and what is best for her. You see, when you do that there really isn’t much left to argue about.
If you both truly have your child’s best interests at heart then you will be on the same page 90% of the time.
As for the other 10%? Well, she will never know about it. We go head to head about once a year. It’s unavoidable and you cannot possibly expect to never disagree, after all you split up for a reason! But there is NO excuse in the world for why your child needs to know about it. You don’t live together, you don’t share a bed. You aren’t sitting across from each other at the dinner table and therefore you can darn well find the time to sort your shit out away from your kid/s. T has not seen her dad and I fight one time in six years. The few times that we have had it out have been in private and it’s been resolved immediately and we’ve moved on.
I know that it means everything to her to see us laugh and joke when we are all together. We give each other a big hug on birthdays and holidays, and she always climbs into the middle of it and relishes the moment. I know it’s likely not easy for my husband to see, but I’ve always been very open with him about how I feel about the situation. It’s HEALTHY for T to see love between her parents, even if we are no longer together. She is a testament to the fact that we once cared very much about each other, it can only do her heart good to see that we still do. He is my friend, and I am his, and I think it’s awesome. We are creating our own little family unit, and if someday he marries and/or has more kids it will expand some more.
My parents split up when I was very young, six I think. I remember seeing a lot of what they went through, I remember the hurt feelings and some of the anger. I remember the pick ups and drop offs and they didn’t always go smoothly. My parents are wonderful, and I have the BEST family, I just didn’t want T to have ANY of those memories and I’m so proud that so far she doesn’t!
As for the inevitable, I know that someday my daughter will possibly have a stepmom, or at the very least the consistent presence of another woman in her life. It’s so hard to think about that!! But my ex has been so gracious about my husband and accepting of him. I will find it within myself to do the same and a while ago I came to realize that I ask only two things of the woman that may one day play an important role in T’s life:
1- Be good to my little girl, always
2- Don’t ever try to take my place
All I want is T’s happiness, and whatever shape or form that takes is alright with me. And in saying that, I vow that I will always keep my shit together… for her sake. I hope that other parents in my situation can do the same, for the love of the kids.