I’ve been a divorced mom for nearly eight years now, and for those of you who might be heading down that road, I have to tell you one very important thing: co-parenting is really, really tough. In some cases, I’m almost convinced that staying in a crappy marriage might in some ways be a little bit easier than attempting to navigate the co-parenting waters. Well…not really…but you get my point.
I’m often asked about what the Hardest part of co-parenting is, and I won’t lie, there are a lot of things that make the list. But when I really think about it, the one thing that I have always struggled with, that left me feeling the saddest, is the fact that because I have 50/50 custody with my ex husband, there is a big part of my girls’ lives that I miss out on. As a divorced parent, regardless of whether you share 50/50 custody or your kids only go off with the other parent every once in a while, there will always be things that they experience that you aren’t a part of.
For example, my ex often takes our daughters on camping trips in the summer time. This is something that I simply don’t have the opportunity to do with them, and I won’t lie, it leaves me feeling a little sad sometimes. The sadness comes from the fact that my girls are getting to experience things that I’m not a part of. Because their father and I are no longer together, this means that I miss out on a portion of their lives.
If I were a different kind of person I might feel jealous about the fact that their father gets to have experiences with our daughters that I don’t. I might even try to find a way to compete with it. I think that’s likely a natural feeling that a lot of single parents experience. But instead of indulging those feelings, I choose to focus on the fact that my daughters are getting to have these happy experiences – period. Sure, the fact that I’m missing out on some things leaves me a little sad, but the hard truth is that as they continue to grow older, my daughters are going to have more and more life experiences that don’t involve me.
And you know what? That’s okay. As the years have passed and I’ve navigated my way through this whole co-parenting thing, I’ve realized that really, the most important thing is focusing on what you can provide to your children, instead of what you can’t. No, I may not be able to take my daughters on an epic camping trip, but we have Friday night nacho and movie nights, go to the pool and have spa afternoons. We’re making our own, unique memories that we’ll all cherish for a long time to come. No competition or jealousy necessary. Happiness always wins.
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