Co-parenting is probably one of the most difficult things two people who share a common interest can do. There are so many conversations to be had that you would never imagine like…Did you notice if he had diarrhea while he was at your house? Why is his shirt so wrinkled?
There’s no way to prepare for what comes after the baby in the baby carriage. But how much should you plan ahead of time and what can you just handle as you get ready to cross the bridge?
When I talk to other women in similar situations, the consensus is that co-parenting is like trying to put a puzzle together with half of the pieces and sometimes you don’t even have the top of the box to refer to. But why is it so difficult? Is it resentment, lingering emotions, the need to control, an attempt to protect the child, a bunch of nameless emotions you can’t label? How can you prevent these things from interfering with your ability to make good decisions?
My answer: I don’t have one ha ha! If I did I wouldn’t be pouring my thoughts into this blog. My opinion, however, is to put things in black and white beforehand. Before you know the lengths you will go to to make sure your child doesn’t experience anything negative. Before you can get upset about the wrong formula or diapers. Before you have an argument about forgetting to pack the wipes. Well, you get my point.
Why are we so reluctant to put these things in black and white? Is it because we want to have those trivial conversations? Are we afraid we won’t be able to live up to what is written in ink and signed by a judge? Who is to blame if you don’t follow through with Christmas plans?
Custody and child support have such a negative connotation. Both things are necessary to raise a child though. Nothing is wrong with delegating responsibilities and sticking to a calendar. Children need consistency. They need to know what to expect. Defining roles is still sharing responsibility, but when one person has less daily chores the trade off is to give up some cash. No, you can’t put a price tag on raising a child, but nothing in life is free, right? And I’ve never heard of a child being harmed by child support payments.
But they can be hurt by tug-of-war and the court documents they find when they’re 23. When they can read every negative thing that was slung back and forth in a courtroom because neither parent wanted to lose. I admit I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I really should have done a better job of keeping up with my puzzle pieces. The one thing I try to remind myself of is that when my son gets older he won’t care who was right or wrong. He will ask me why he doesn’t have any pictures with both of his parents. I will have to explain why he never got to open a Christmas present with his siblings. He will want to know why he has to have two birthday parties every year.
So, I’m still working on this puzzle and I may never get it completely finished but I would like to be able to tell my son that I did my best or at least give a damn good apology.