By Christy Davila
My first husband and I separated not long after our son’s first birthday and became co-parents.
Unfortunately my idea of co-parenting has, then and now, been very different than my ex-husband’s. I’d hoped we would communicate without blaming, make decisions after talking through them together, and discuss how to handle difficult situations.
That has never happened.
Over the last ten years, I’ve felt backed into a corner more times than I can count. Still I keep at it, trying to keep my head on straight. I do this because I love my son.
I do this because it’s my responsibility to make shared custody easier for him. I want him to grow up knowing he is loved, that I tried to work through things. I want to be an example to him.
It’s not all horrible. I’ve grown in ways I never imagined. I’ve learned to talk to a friend before I talk to my ex. I’ve learned to have thicker skin. I’ve learned there are things I just need to deal with, especially when we’re not on the same page.
We have conversations at baseball games, we set our own custody schedule, we are cordial to each other at required events. Sometimes we listen to each other, trying to hear the others’ perspective.
These glimpses of what a positive co-parenting relationship looks like are hopeful but far from perfect.
At my son’s request, we have birthday dinners for him with both families present. In these moments I remember we both love our son, we both have his best interests in mind — even if that’s sometimes different from what we want or expect.
When my son was about three, I met my second husband. He was the widowed father of a 14-year-old. We hit it off instantly. It felt good to grow into a relationship with a partner. He showed me true understanding and acceptance. He listened to me cry — and sometimes yell.
He helped me sort through my feelings, stand my ground, and let things go.
As painful and frustrating at times, I truly believe shared custody is best for our family. I don’t always agree with him, but my ex is my son’s dad. I take the good with the not so good. Almost ten years out, I am grateful that my son has his dad in his life.
It could be a lot worse.
I think once you experience being a single parent, that feeling stays with you forever. It’s a lonely, tough road. And while co-parenting is a wonderful ideal, working together sometimes means dealing with disagreement on whose way is best.
Now, for me, it’s all about taking a deep breath and knowing that I’m doing the best I can. It’s about making sure that my son knows I love him at every turn.
I think that’s all we can do as parents. The best we can.
Christy Davila is a mom to 2 boys, and a kindergarten teacher. When her taxiing and trying to keep 2 boys from destroying the house doesn’t take up her time, she likes to dabble in crafting and cooking. Visit her blog.