Is Co-Parenting Really Single Parenting?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Recently I came across an article on Facebook that addressed a recent interview actress Hillary Duff had with a magazine, where she discussed co-parenting with her ex-husband and single motherhood. She talked about the guilt associated with balancing a career and motherhood - which I think is a challenge many moms struggle with, as well as how splitting time with her son's father is never easy but having a great co-parenting relationship with her ex has alleviated some of the stress.

I decided to check out the comments, since as a single mom myself, I was interested in what people thought about this topic. A lot of moms were impressed with Hillary's relationship with her ex and supported a strong co-parenting relationship, some questioned her actual struggle with a career and motherhood since she's a celebrity and is presumed to have more financial stability than your average single mom. And others? Well they struggled with the idea that Hillary was even a single mom since she still had her son's father active and participating in his life. These moms were true single parents - doing it alone with no help or support from the other father/parent - and in some cases, even unaware of where he actually is.

Can Hillary be a single mom if she still has parenting help from the other parent? Since I'm in a similar situation to her - here are my thoughts...

Does my ex co-parent physically 50% of the time and work with me to make all of our children's major life decisions? Absolutely.

Does my ex alleviate some of the financial burden associated with raising two children by contributing her share of expenses? Absolutely.

Am I experiencing all of my children's activities or milestones solo? No.



But I still consider myself a single parent. Why? Because I am going at it alone. When I have my children, it's me 24/7. I do not have anyone to tap me out or alleviate the burden on a daily basis. I'm responsible for paying for diapers and feeding my children - as I do not receive child support from my ex (we pick up our share of clothing, diaper expenses when our children are in our care). I do not have someone on my team day in and day out. And the bulk of our activities? I do alone, as my ex and I share really just the bigger stuff like Pre-K registration.

I'm making all of the day-to-day decisions in my household. I'm balancing a career and motherhood. I'm responsible for making sure my children are fed and clothed and have what they need. And guess what? I do that all while co-parenting with someone that I no longer wish to even have in my life (if we didn't have kids). I'm so tired of the "who has it worse" argument. Parenting is hard in general. We all have different resources at our fingertips - some of us have a support network or family close (I do not), some of us are in a good financial position, some of us receive child support, some of us don't, some of split time with our ex, some of us have our kids literally 365 days a year. We're all making decisions that impact these tiny people's lives and doing the best we can with what we have. That's not to say my single parenting is no better or worse than the single mother without her ex in her life. I mean - I can see why it would be more difficult - but again, we all have a different story to tell.

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them! Also - let's remember, comments are fantastic, but this is a still a forum where we should practice kindness.

The Thief of Joy

Monday, March 6, 2017

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We have all heard this saying, right? That the more you compare yourself to others, the more you'll find you're unhappy with what you have or your situation. I've been thinking about this saying a lot over the past week. It's something every single one of us  - no matter if we are envious of another marriage, a body type, a job someone has, financial standing, etc. We all find ourselves with eyes glued into what we see of someone else's life and immediately begin to measure ourselves against that portrait - many, many times we do not measure up in our own mind.

But here's the thing - no matter how much we try to compare ourselves to someone else - we will NEVER measure up. We can NEVER compare. Why? Because we are two COMPLETELY different people on two COMPLETELY different journeys. We have different life experiences, we have different things we, ourselves, battle with. Just because "Susan and John" are in marital bliss and we agonize over why they are so happy and we're sitting in a heaping pile of divorce - we don't realize that maybe they spend their nights crying over infertility. Just because Lisa has the perfect hair and such a perfect, athletic body and why can't we just look like her (but we had kids)??? We don't realize that maybe Lisa is drowning in debt and feels stuck in her life and career. Who knows?

We latch onto one tiny part of someone that we are envious of and we compare. Why am I not enough? But there are a million tiny pieces associated with each and everyone of us that makes us whole. We all have our insecurities, our goals, things that motivate us. And they're completely different than everyone else in this world.

Last summer I dated the first girl since my ex-wife. The first person who I absolutely connected with, was attracted to, and thoroughly enjoyed being around since I was hooked on my ex-wife. This girl not only brought out the emoji heart eyes in me but gosh, she felt like freedom from a nightmare I was trapped for so long. But as our little "relationship" progressed, she realized she still had feelings for her ex-girlfriend. Well, she always had those feelings but it was something she couldn't ignore and still give part of herself to me. She had none of herself she could give me. I was devastated. I literally agonized over the why for months. Why not me? Why her? Am I not pretty enough? Not skinny enough? Not successful enough? What is it about me is not enough to pull the girl I liked away from someone she ended a relationship from? What's sooooo great about this other girl that I'm not enough???? It drove me crazy and I cried so many tears over this.

But here's the thing. It's not that I'm not enough for her. It's not that the ex-girlfriend is more, has more, appeals more. It's that I wasn't FOR the girl I liked. Plain and simple. She liked me. We connected. We had a great few months - but at the end of the day she needed something that I just couldn't provide. And it wasn't that I wasn't enough. It was that I was different. We talked about this, her and I - I was one path and the other girl was a completely different path. And the girl I liked needed to pick the path that matched what she wanted in her life.

And what does that mean for me? It doesn't mean that I'm too fat or ugly compared to someone else. It's that I have completely different offerings and attributes that WILL be a match for someone else that comes along some day.

I'm an apple. The ex-girlfriend is an orange. Seriously, can we compare apples to oranges? Yes they're both fruit but they have completely different tastes. Maybe you want to pair peanut butter with a great fruit and an orange won't cut it ... but guess what goes perfectly? An apple. Maybe you want to enjoy a nice refreshing Blue Moon beer and need the perfect garnish - which is dun dun dun .... an orange! An apple doesn't go with a Blue Moon. But an orange does every single time. (I think my metaphor is getting out of control)

Anyways - the more I found myself comparing to someone else and measuring myself against a girl with literally a completely different life than myself - I found myself getting more depressed and beating myself down. This girl that had no idea that I probably even existed had become "the end all be all" of amazingness and what we should aim to be in life. But that's not the case. I'm sure she has her issues and her struggles. WE ALL DO. And I wish them both a super happy life with or without each other - I truly do.

I've been working on trying to stop the comparison. Stopping letting something like that steal my joy. Being comfortable in my own skin and knowing the only person I need to impress or measure up to is my damn self. Don't let anyone else steal your joy. Don't let someone's "perfect" story make you find cracks in your own.

The Shower

Thursday, March 2, 2017



Each and every one of us copes with difficult things in our own way. Whether it's comfort through food, drugs, booze or sex. Or healthier options like self-love, massages, weekend getaways or even venting to a close friend - we heal and we work through stuff in different ways. My "drug' of choice? Water. Specifically a hot shower.

Last night, I wasn't feeling well. I had gotten back from an outing with my dad and my stomach hurt, I had the chills and my face and ears were super warm. I couldn't fall asleep and was both shivering and desperate for reprieve from the warmth emanating from my head. Eventually, I decided to get up and take a shower. To me, a shower has always offered a safe space. Calming, relaxing, quiet.

In the 8 years I spent with my ex, many of those years were spent in turmoil. My heart being shattered to pieces and I had little ability to deal with those tough and confusing emotions. I won't sit here and say that a shower helps me work through all of life's hardest battles. Because I've been told I do not actually "sit" in my pain and feel it. I numb it til it goes away and I can move on and feel strong again. And that's what a shower had always served to me - a way to numb the pain, to feel that grief for a moment but to shove it away so I could re-emerge and continue on with my day.

I can remember every single shower that I have sat in over the past 8+ years. Everything from super small stand up showers (and I'm 5"8 so I was crammed in there) to nicely tiled "fancy" showers to your basic tubs ... and even a  tub with jets a few times. I've spent a lot of time sitting on a bathroom floor in grief and pain. And last night, it was interesting to reflect back on that as I found myself in that spot but for a different reason (because I felt ill not in heartbreak).

Human emotion is interesting, isn't it? How we feel, how we process, how we put ourselves back together. The comfort a shower brings me is peace- and the hotter the water, the better. I've known myself to jump into that comfort zone for as little as 10 minutes (because I just needed a reprieve and didn't have much time) to sometimes upwards of an hour. Whatever would help me feel better and time would allow. I had time to think, to sit, to "feel better" and re-emerged (not 100% better) but feeling a tad bit more comforted. And honestly, that's all programmed in me from other emotional trauma that I've survived. Water (hot water) is my comfort zone. It's my drug, my close friend, my cozy blanket. A shower is where I can wash away all of the bad stuff, process my thoughts more clearly and at least emerge a bit stronger than I did when I entered that shower.

I know you're probably going through a hard time. You wouldn't have found me or this blog if you didn't. And you're coping the best way you know how. Hang in there. Find your shower - your healthy way to at least handle what's thrown at you. You do not need to process it right now. You are allowed to feel weak. You're allowed to comfort yourself. You will get to where you need to be - eventually. I promise you that. But for now ... find a healthy way to take care of yourself. You'll make it through.
 
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