Let’s face it, co parenting, isn’t something you really ever set out to do. I certainly never envisaged life this way when I was pregnant with my first born, Bertie. But, in some situations, it’s unavoidable. And sometimes in life, you have to suck it up and piece together what you can from the fragments of a broken relationship, to give your child the best of both worlds.
Here are six little truths you may not know, about how to navigate your way through the choppy post break up waters, and land on, albeit, not the beach you were originally headed for, but a nice sandy one, none the less.
I mean separate on a few different levels, make a clean break. There are reasons you broke up, and when your heart hurts and you’re missing your 2.4 family, it’s tempting to dip your toes. Don’t. In the long run, it’s more hurtful. By separating, you can begin to forge a new relationship based around the connection you have as parents to the same child. This also means that, whilst sometimes, they’re a total dick head to you, this doesn’t affect their ability to be a super dad to your child, as their relationship with the child, and your relationship as 2 adults are in fact, entirely different things.
2. Find a way to let go
For me, this was one of the most difficult things to do. Allowing my little baby, the one who I’d given up my life for, be driven away without me nearly broke my heart. My very wise health visitor advised me to ‘let go’. She asked me, “is he safe? Is he cared for? Is he loved? If the answer is yes, then learn to let go”. It took a lot of practise, to let go, to trust, to accept that I wouldn’t be there for every moment, but that his dad also deserved that precious time with our beautiful baby. Gradually, the worry, the jealousy, and resentment faded away, and I found that, being able to let go and relinquish control to dad, made me internally happier and more at peace with our situation.
3. Respect each other
This came into play about 18 months into our co parenting journey, when daddy’s now wife arrived on the scene. Immediately my head was filled with this better woman, prettier, more clever, more able, this other person who might be able to give my baby things that I wouldn’t. Would she try to take my place?? Treading on my toes? The answer was no. Me and her are chalk and cheese, in fact, her presence in Bertie’s life brings things I could never bring to his table. She’s brilliant at maths, I’m crap. She’s super at getting stains out of clothes. I’m crap. She never wanted to be his mum. She has a whole relationship with him that’s unique to them, and I respect her for the important role she plays in my sons life. She undoubtedly helps us to raise him and will be an integral part of his upbringing. So the respect is mutual on both sides. We all have different roles to play, and by respecting those, no one feels threatened or pushed out.
4. Give up the hate
Hate is all consuming, it takes time, your strength, and mostly, it saps away the joy of now. Hating his dad did me no favours. He was never going to disappear as he adores our son. Hating him, and all the negative emotions that accompanied the hate, the jealousy, the anger, just impacted on my life and dragged me down. I never really hated him, I was just angry at him and my heart was broken. But when the fog started to clear, I began to understand that, even though things hadn’t turned out how I planned, in fact, they were still great. Just a different kind of great. Remember, you once loved him enough to have a baby together.
5. Don’t forget to be human
Be fair. It’s really hard when you’re wrapped up in that post break up thing to think clearly. Don’t threaten his contact because he’s been stuck in traffic on his way from work. Don’t begrudge him that night out. In time, as you heal, you will want that breathing space. You both deserve that. You both deserve holidays without the child, you deserve to meet another partner, you deserve some fluidity that allows for working late, or friends’ birthdays. We regularly swap a night for a party that dad wants to take him to. Or that night when Bertie wanted to watch my gig. We are all human. Just because our relationship didn’t work out, doesn’t make his dad a monster. Bertie’s happiness is, to some degree, wrapped up in his dads happiness. He deserves to be successful, and happy, and I’m convinced that both of those things are in Bertie’s best interests.
6. Lastly, and most importantly, above everything, remember how much you love your child
That beautiful little baby with the fuzzy hair and peachy skin. His dad’s hand and reassuring voice, you were the only two people, aside from the doctors, who were there to witness that little person coming into being. Don’t forget where you’ve been together. Yes, this is new, and it might be hard right now. But ultimately, if you always allow the love for your child to be the driving force, you won’t go far wrong. Bertie deserves his dad, and I know I could crawl through a ton of shit and come out on the other side if it meant the best for him. You can do this. You can morph this shit storm into a situation that works for everyone, where everyone can be happy, and you can secure something solid and good for your child. Focus, breathe and don’t be too hard on yourself. Keep your child at the centre of it all, and don’t allow your own feelings to taint how you parent together. It’s a learning curve, but the end goal is worth the uphill climb.