When I saw the story that went viral over the parents and step-parents in jerseys supporting their kid it actually made a lot of sense to me. After all, positive co-parenting after separation is all about keeping your eye on the ball—the ball being your kid.
Because of us, I will never believe co-parenting can’t work! I KNOW through experience it CAN WORK! Choose to do what’s best for your child and everything will just fall into place ❤
My ex and I split up eight years ago and we are very much like that family, rallying around our child and each other. I hear a lot of people talking about divorce like it’s the worst thing in the world—and for some people it is. I am fortunate that I have steady work and my health is reasonable so we don’t have the stress of finances to argue over. For that reason, I recognize that my situation has been made easier with privilege and the fact that with time we have grown into progressively more reasonable people together because we are committed to making this work. That being said, we have found the majority of our problems can be overcome through a child-centred approach.
We have been fortunate to have been able to navigate our separation with basically no intervention with respect to access—negotiating and working together for our child without lawyers and court dates. What little we have in writing is vague so we have had to cooperate to implement what makes sense at any given time. Now that we have new partners, we can all hang out and socialize and create memories for our son together. We collaborate on our schedules to make sure everyone has an opportunity for work, self-care, socializing with friends kid-free and relationship-focussed time as well as parenting time.
Time can be such a drama in co-parenting and for good reason—because it is precious. We have focused less on what we are each entitled to and focused more on what experiences our child will enjoy, appreciate and grow from. Yes, Tuesday night might be my time, but he might really like to make cards with his stepmom on the one night she’s free and it’s really not a big deal in the scheme of things. We are able to be flexible with each other about the little things because we know that we each respect each other’s roles in our child’s life and each other. If we allow adjustments, we will be afforded them ourselves in the future. We pay kindness forward and it comes around and around.
Kindness has been the principle that has helped us through things.
Kindness has been the principle that has helped us through things. Everything has seasons and there are times where each of us has needed more support and we have been able to work through those things without prejudice for the good of our son. Car and ATV accidents, career changes, deaths in the family, relationship breakdowns, we have worked through all these things by meeting each other where we are and doing what needs to be done to support our son and each other. The best thing that came out of this is that instead of two unhappy parents, our son has four happier parents.
Instead of two unhappy parents, our son has four happier parents.
At first, I was really threatened by the idea of another woman in my child’s life but in time I realized his love isn’t a bank balance, with love for her detracting from love for me. Our child has a big heart and some for her doesn’t mean less for me. Love isn’t pie to be divvied up. We raised a kid with a big heart and there’s lots of room for all of us. The more people on my son’s team the better, the more people looking out for him and loving him is to his benefit. Also, in working together, separation hasn’t decreased the size of our circles of support, but rather increased it, because we can rely on each other.
The reality is, we need that support. I was sick for Thanksgiving and my son really wanted a turkey dinner. I didn’t even own a roaster so I ordered one online from the grocery store and a turkey to go with it. They arrived and as my partner was unpacking the groceries, he could not contain his giggles. I went in to the kitchen to see the turkey resting on top of the roaster, rather that inside it. The roaster was comically too small and we were never going to get the turkey cooked so long as it dwarfed its intended cooking vessel. My son’s dad saved the day, not only delivering a large enough roasting pan, but staying to cook the turkey for us.
He showed up for us and helped create a positive memory for our son. He delivers coffee, things forgotten from the store and helps out where he can for my mom, sisters and grandma. We take care of each other and our families. I’m still a part of his family and those relationships are important to me. We were friends before we became parents and we are friends today.
I’m thankful my partner and my son’s dad have become friends too. They have what I refer to as a “bromance” of their own, taking our son to movies together without me. Life is so much easier when there is a trust that we are all working towards the same goal: a healthy, happy kid.
I’m not saying it was always this easy. We fought long and hard against ego, hurt and anger to get to this place. The beginning was pretty lousy but we found our way and I’m thankful for that and our weird little parenting collective. I’m thankful my son knows he has a home team he can rely on and that together, we are keeping our eyes on the ball.
Alison Tedford is a freelance writer and digital marketing professional from Abbotsford, BC, Canada. Her most demanding client calls her Mom. You can find Alison at Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops, on Facebook and on Twitter.