I’m not about to get on here and start man hating, bashing my ex or slating the father of my children. That is not what this is about. (Sorry if you came here for the juice, the dirt, the messy details!…Maybe another day….)
No one gets married with the aim of divorce. Well, I would hope not anyway! It wasn’t in my plans, my vision; it wasn’t a life goal. Yet divorce is something I can tick off as achieved in my life. Do I wish I was still married though-definitely not. I’m thankful for it. However, even after signing the papers, selling the apartment and splitting the possessions; when you have kids, you don’t just get a clean break. You don’t get a ‘See you never.’
It’s been many years. Emotionally I’m in a really good place. I feel stronger then ever within myself. I’m proud of the person I am because it’s taken work, effort, intention, commitment and dedication to become more of me. It’s taken real dark times, purposeful healing, meditation, journaling, therapy. My strength is in my flaws, in my mistakes, in my ability to reflect and try to continue to grow, be better, do better. To forgive. Myself and others. When you step into who you are, it can be scary for some people. Oh well.
Parenting has really been a place of power for me. I am who I am because I am a mother. I’m not perfect, but I back myself all the way because I show up. I moved myself and my kids to Kenya because I was offered a job in the same city in which their father lives. A city I didn’t come back to when we split up. The two people (aside from my kids) who I consider my rocks, my stability, my lifeline are my mum and my sister. I left them in London and took the scary steps that I felt best for my family. My babies. I wanted to make sure they would never feel that I deprived them of their relationship with their father.
What I never expected is that this move would change me so much. I was so scared. I never knew it would actually result in the relationship between my children and I becoming stronger than I thought possible. Would make me more confident as a person, as a parent. Would release from my self inflicted guilt. My fears and worries have not manifested, in fact the opposite happened. I feel strong and content. The one reoccurring problem is that we might technically both be labelled as ‘parents’ but only one of us is parenting.
Parenting takes a lot of effort. It’s cooking, cleaning, homework, routine. It’s debates about just about everything-bed time, screen time, what’s fair and not fair. Raising children is unchartered territory, facing unplanned and unscripted scenarios that you have no idea how to deal with but have to do what you feel is right. Then thinking that you got it wrong. It’s trying to be consistent and then beating yourself up about how many inconsistencies occurred today. It’s chauffeuring, refereeing, making decisions. Kisses, cuddles, nosebleeds, coughs. It’s hormones, siblings, constant fricking snacks. There’s one of me, three of them. The job I’m employed to do also requires a lot of me. My life takes planning, organisation and routine. I’m not talking military style control, law and order, but there has to be some forethought for our home life to flow. My youngest is 7 and they are all two years apart, so it was a very different story when they were much younger (it was chaos let me tell you!) but navigating through those time’s alone means that organising and planning now when they are that little bit more independent, is much easier.
When they go for their weekends they mostly come back exhausted. There is no bed time routine. They don’t do homework. They have a lot of screen time. They watch things I wouldn’t approve of. But they get time with their paternal family, they are well fed, safe and loved. It takes them a few days to settle down when they get back and sometimes they can feel really mad and resentful at their boring life of routine, bed time and homework but we press on and it works.
I’m resilient so to really get to me you have to find my Achilles heel. Any guesses where my trigger points lie? It’s not rocket science…
Now I am very much all about those good vibes, high energy levels, powerful manifestations, you catch my drift. I’m resilient so to really get to me you have to find my Achilles heel. Any guesses where my trigger points lie? It’s not rocket science so I’m sure you’ve got it. If my parenting or my children are criticised, it can really bring out the fierce in me. There is a difference between constructive feedback for the greater good and an ego driven, attack on someone’s character, wanting to win, be right and want to shame someone.
My ego does come out to play too. Of course it does. I’ve done this. Woohoo to me. My kids get to see their other parent all because of the sacrifices I’ve made. The bold steps I’ve taken. What an amazing woman I am, what a fabulous mother. How dare you even think you can say that to me, don’t you know what I’ve done?! What you have?! Because of me?! Slap yourself and be thankful! All the while forgetting that this set up also allows me a full child free weekend to do as I please. Argh how ugly. But in the end, what drives me and is at the forefront of my thinking is trying to make decisions based on what I genuinely think will be best for the kids.
I don’t know what the future holds for us. Globally, we are in a time where there are so many unknowns and uncertainties. It’s a time where we can really reflect and think about what’s important to us. Co-parenting is an enterprise taken by two adults, not just one. I may well make a decision in the not so distant future to move us back to London. Snatching them away from one parent in order to fulfil my own selfish desires to be close to my family. That’s the narrative that I’m sure will be played out. Years ago, it would have triggered me terribly. Today, I’m guilt free. I’ve been able to close a chapter that had been left unwritten and freed myself. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for the other parent to properly step up.
1 thought on “Co-Parenting When Only One Of You Is Actually Parenting”
Great read. I’ve been there. Sometimes, depending on who the other parent is(character), you’re better off without their presence, even if it’s tough. I will pray God’s Will be done though…
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