I like to think I'm sensible in most aspects of my life, especially when it comes to my kids. Granted, I have my days where being a mom is the last thing I think I'm good at. I yell, I have no patience, everything irritates me, and I have no motivation to be the "good" mother I know I can be.
I also have a very particular mindset when it comes to my kids. Skylar is pretty self sufficient in her three years of age. She has her grumpy, don't mess with me days, but overall, she requires very little "parenting" from myself. Chase is a different story entirely. He has very big emotions, especially when it comes to anger and frustration. Being calm when he's having his outbursts, and showing him how to be calm is the most effective. I know first-hand that it's not easy. After 8 hours of whining, yelling, hitting, biting, scratching, crying, and other temper tantrum behavior, you tend to start losing your composure. It's a strain on your sanity.
But that's only the background for this post. The real meat and bones is something that can be a little more complicated.
When Kyle and I were together, it was much easier to merge our two kinds of parenting together. We were able to compensate for the other's weaknesses and strengths seamlessly. After we separated, that went away, and quickly.
We both had this idea when we split, that we would continue to work together. That our parenting wouldn't change. We would both continue to lean on each other. And while it was a nice notion, it's not as easy as it sounds.
We imagined we would be able to hang out as a family still. We never wanted to be the parents that couldn't stand to be in the same room together. We wanted to be able to go to our kids birthday parties together and actually enjoy it. We wanted to cheer for our kids in whatever sports they may play sitting next to each other. We thought we would still be this functioning family, just mom and dad didn't live together.
We were both naive in what co-parenting would look like for both of us. After a less than gorgeous divorce, we struggled.
Neither of us took into consideration the new challenges that would be placed in front of us. We didn't account for us dating again. His girlfriend has two kids, and he's starting to adapt her parenting style to his own. I'm engaged to a man who has never had kids of his own and is trying to pick it up on the fly. I didn't realize that after I left, his parents would go on a free for all in some areas. A lot of screen time, caffeine, and a colorful vocabulary to name a few. I forgot how different Kyle and I are on our own.
I tried to maintain control of everything. I tried to force him to still parent the way I thought he should, despite the fact that I wasn't there to fall back on. I even, I'm horrified to admit, tried to control the interaction that his girlfriend had with my kids. I was grasping onto the control I thought I had with a relentless force.
And that back fired in a huge way.
We all started resenting each other, we were all stressed out, and nothing seemed to be moving forward. While I don't claim total responsibility, I definitely played a large part in the problem. It wasn't until recently that I realized that the best way to move forward, was to release my grip on everything. I had to realize that I wasn't helping the situation at all by trying to micromanage everyone involved.
Now I still struggle with some aspects. The idea of my children calling another woman mommy kills me. Knowing there are others that spend more time with my kids than myself causes me a lot of stress. But the only way any of that is going to get better is if I just let some of that happen.
Kyle and I are working towards getting to a point where we can all work together. I'm getting better at listening to his concerns and only giving advice in small amounts. I'm not forcing him into situations that he doesn't feel ready for, despite my own opinions. I'm trying to be more active in asking about his girlfriend and her kids when talking to my own. I'm trying to be the co-parent that we thought we would both be.
We are slowly moving forward. It's going to take a lot of hard work from all of us involved. Kyle and his family are still part of mine. My family is still apart of his. And we've both been lucky enough to find people that love us and want to be with each of us despite our crazy situations. Both Kyle's girlfriend and my fiance have taken all of this in stride and love our children. We are very lucky in that aspect.
I'm still learning to embrace that notion fully. But it can't be that bad, right? More people to love and help our kids grow into the amazing people we know they can be. More people to rely on when things get hard or complications arise.
It takes a village, right? I think a lot of parents don't realize that you have to work with the village too. If you want the village, you have to put work into that relationship as well. Not just my relationship with Kyle or my kids. We all have to let go of whatever control we imagine is there, and simply work together for the sake of our kids.