Posts Tagged ‘coparenting’

Co-Parenting 101: Finding Your Own Tribe

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My guest post on The Cubicle Chick

Over the past seven years, I’ve gone through the ultimate lows while engaged in a high conflict co-parenting relationship. Feelings of inadequacy, isolation, depression, and severe anxiety have plagued me the majority of the time. I only exacerbated the situation by shutting down physically and emotionally, at times feeling unable to process all that I was going through myself. A ball of fury at most times, ready to explode or break down at any moment; my emotional sanity drowning. Not able to process the feelings myself, I refused to talk with anyone about what I was going through and how it was affecting me. Scared that if I were to open my mouth and share my truth I wouldn’t be understood.

When you have to literally fight for your child, have to fight for what they deserve, in front of a stranger in a robe, it changes you. When you look at the father of your child and realize you don’t know him and never did, when he reminds you of your own deadbeat dad – it changes the person you are. I guess it only changes you if you let it. My experiences have hardened my already dense exterior. They don’t understand. They can’t understand. They don’t know my ex. They don’t know my struggle. This is what I told myself over and over and over again.

I grew up with a fierce sense of independence, which hasn’t made it comfortable for me to ask for help or open up to anyone. Even with my core group of friends, I found myself opening up and then instantly regretting it. Afraid that they’ll see too much of my mess. Afraid that I’ve exposed too much of myself. Afraid not of their reaction, but my inability to move past my own grief of a failed relationship. Grief that my daughter’s father will never be what she needs.

I didn’t value having a tribe for a long time. That fierce sense of independence got the best of me – I could do it all on my own. Or so I thought. I struggled for awhile finding my tribe – worried that my instincts were off and I would trust the wrong people, again. Finding your tribe and people you can open up too isn’t easy. I needed to find my tribe because I realized I couldn’t continue attempting to be a good mother or good friend without having emotional support, especially when I was in and out of court with my ex.

Read the rest of “Co-Parenting 101: Finding Your Own Tribe” over on The Cubicle Chick!



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Taking the High Road While Co-Parenting During The Holidays

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My daughter couldn’t be more excited for the holidays. Together we’ve started decorating our home, a big red bow on our door, Christmas lights adorn our entertainment center, and Christmas carols help us get ready in the morning. A crucial piece of the holidays is the presence of her co-parent, who isn’t my biggest fan. Being involved in a high-conflict co-parenting relationship during the holidays isn’t always so fun. It often causes headaches and additional stress – and who really needs any additional stress at this time of year? Taking the high road to co-parenting during the holidays can be really tough, and requires you to stop thinking so much about yourself, and more about your child’s happiness.

During the season of joy and happiness, I spend a lot of time thinking about how best to communicate with my co-parent during the holidays. I find it hard to swallow my immense dislike for his usual unreliability and disrespect and assume he’ll play more a role in our daughter’s like during the holidays. But I try—for our daughter. For awhile I really thought the love of my family could blanket her heart with all the love she would ever need. I completely disregarded her father’s side of the family, every last one, based on her grandfather’s behavior and our continuously rocky relationship. I didn’t take into account the love they all shared for our daughter, and held them all accountable for her father’s behavior. Our daughter is amazing, and no I’m not just saying that because I’m her mom. There is something so wonderful about being in her presence, in seeing her smile, in being part of her warmth. She is lucky to have so many people who love her and want to spend time with her. And since I love her more than I dislike them, I take the high road during the holidays.

Read the rest of my post including my five tips on co-parenting during the holiday season over at The Cubicle Chick!



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[Co-Parenting Matters] Talking To Your Child About Your Ex

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As much as I have grown thorough my experience co-parenting over the past six years there are still much for me to learn.

I admit, I can be quite stubborn and there are certain things I will not budge on, and this causes severe tension between my co-parent and I. It’s fair to  say I hold quite a bit of anger towards him, which is quite unhealthy and has affected both my personal and professional life. Most importantly it’s affected how I communicate about him with our daughter.

I have the ferocity and strength of a mama bear protecting her cub when it comes to my daughter. And over the years I’ve felt the need to protect her…from her own father. Her little heart can only take so many letdowns and she shouldn’t cry over him and his broken promises. I internalize all of how she feels, and at times I feel like a ball of rage. At times feeling absolutely unable to console her or to make our overall situation any better.

When she talked about him, my body language changed, my eyes shifted and became just slivers. There was no conversation, she would talk and I would listen. But not really. One night while home watching the child he and I made sleep the night away, I wept. I wept for the man he wasn’t. I wept for her sorrows. I wept that I couldn’t protect her.

Read the remainder of my post over of The Young Mommy Life.



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Adventures in Co-parenting: Its. Not. About. You.

*First written for The Pushback blog*

This post was inspired by my friend Deesha Philyaw of Co-parenting101.org and her new book Co-parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households after Divorce.

When my seven year old daughter comes home from visiting her Father’s house she’s either overjoyed to see me, and ready to cuddle and share with me all the fun she had that day. Or, she walks by me without saying a word, throws herself on her bed and tells me how much she wants to live with her Dad. My daughter, the drama queen, usually reacts the negative way.

The thing that gets me is that I never thought she’d react like this. Why would she when she’s got me? I give her everything she could ever ask for. I sacrificed my anxiety (and some of our savings) to take her to Disney dammit! I’m the incognito tooth fairy who gently places a dollar underneath her pillow as she sleeps. I’m the one taking her to see the movies she wants, visit the parks she wants, making smores with her. I’m front row in school performances. I’m the one breaking my damn back to provide a roof over her head, good food in her stomach, and an abundance of toys and books. And SHE wants to live with HIM?

See what I just did there? Me, me, me. Though only seven, I find myself at times dumbfounded that she doesn’t see how dysfunctional and unsupportive her Father is and how much pain he causes her. The uncontained rage I feel when she tells me she wants to live with her Father frightens me. My body tenses. When her big brown eyes full of sorrow and despair look up to me, and her toothless mouth tells me she wants him not me, I crumble. Wait, you don’t want me? After all I’ve done for you? I feel defeated, as if all I’ve done to build a life for her has just blown away with the wind.

Co-parenting over the past six years has been the most horrifying and enlightening experience I’ve ever had. It’s no secret that my daughter’s Father and I are not co-parenting seamlessly. I’ve felt hurt, pain, disappointment, loneliness, and anger. I feel ever so protective of my child, even trying to shield her from her own Father.

But, it’s not about me.

Encouraging my daughter to talk about and engage with her co-parent was at one time impossible for me to do. Over my dead body would I let him infect her with his lies and instability. He was going to mess everything up, I was sure of it. It has been a rocky journey to stop feeling like the victim, to stop thinking it’s all about me. Because it’s all about her. My daughter. Our daughter. I needed to give her wings and allow her to love her co-parent and his family. She needed me to support those relationships, and I’m trying. I’m learning. Children are incredibly resilient creatures, and as most parents know, pick up on so much, even when words are not spoken.

The bottom line is: she loves her Dad. I want her to love her Dad. Her Dad loves her. And I love my daughter, so I will continue doing my best to support their relationship and provide a judgment free zone where she is able to talk freely and openly about how she is feeling in regards to him, because I love my daughter.

And because it’s not about me and my feelings.



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Mommy: I have a Baby Sister

I’ve always had high expectations of myself. Being where I’m at has never been good enough. I’m insatiable. Perfectionist? No. Over achiever? Gosh yes. These expectations drastically increased once I became someone’s Mom. Increased again once I became a solo parent. I am still trying to understand my place as a single mother, co-parenting with someone I once loved. He and I were such an unexpected match, a beautiful disaster if you will. I craved him. And now, being in his presence embarrasses me. You live and you learn and you love and you fall out of love. But, when a child is created from that once blissful warm union things tend to get tricky…dangerous even.

I have no intention of being a nasty coparent, though I do admit that I am a ferocious emotional creature. This is who I am and I’ve accepted it and am working on reigning in my emotions. Motherhood has been nothing but an adventure that I’ve gladly strapped myself in for, lifted my hands in the air, and enjoyed. Co-parenting on the other hand…I greatly dislike it. It tends to bring out the worst in me (my fault), nothing nothing nothing could prepare me for what occurred early this year when my daughter came home and told me she had a baby sister.

Lil Mama: Mommy I have a baby sister.

Me: What? No you don’t, I’m not pregnant!

Lil Mama: No Mommy, Daddy has a baby. I have a baby sister.

Me: Whaatt? No, no, he doesn’t have another baby silly.

Lil Mama: Yes, yes he does, I met her!

Me: (silence)

I…I…broke down. Drowning, I felt I was drowning, gulping down mouthfuls of water. I was not prepared. I have not been able to stomach talking with my daughter about this new addition to her father’s family. Perhaps it’s because he and I are going head to head, perhaps it’s because I don’t want to accept it. This is someone I was in love with, shared a bed with, created a child with. Perhaps I’m not woman enough to get over my bitterness. But I am woman enough to admit I don’t know how to handle this situation. When she brings up this baby I am either silent or change the topic quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Digging deeper I think I’m trying to protect my daughter and myself. I’m not being selfish, but this isn’t just about my daughter, it’s about me as well. Because I am the one who once again has to clean up the mess. I have to answer the questions she asks. This new addition was sprung on her, no conversations were had, and I’m livid he wasn’t man enough to inform me so I could talk with her about it. I think a lot about what her views on her Father are, and men in general. I DON’T want her to think that his behavior is the norm – that this is what men are all about. But, how can I make her think any different when she adores him?

How can I protect her from men like her own Father?



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