Sharing my children can be hard.
I know it sounds like the ideal life. Every few weeks I give them away for 4 days and get to relish in the life of a carefree person.
I get to go out, hit up the grocery without anyone in tow, dance the night away wearing sparkly dresses, and pretend I’m not 32 with two children, and responsibilities.
But, lets be honest, I don’t hit the town. I curl up in bed, and watch Netflix, order takeout, and cry.
See, here’s the thing you can’t tell from the outside. Your kids having a second life in another home with other people is so crappy. The first night, I don’t sleep. I can feel their absence from my home like a gaping hole in my heart. The second night, I drink a lot of wine, and cry watching comedies.(and don’t even get me started on those dramas masquerading as comedies) I am such a mess when my girls aren’t home.
There are things that happen that I am not proud of. Sometimes, I overreact to my (phenomenol) ex-husband. I have been known to throw little hissy fits. Example:
He says: “I am going to take the girls to my friends house for dinner”
I hear: “I am going to take the girls to a warehouse filled with knife wielding thugs, and let them play barefoot on rusty nails.”
Queue my hissy fit.
See, there is this inborn mamma radar, that has a desperate need to know where my kids are all the time. To be able to glance at them at any given moment, and know they are okay. And, quite honestly, to be able to control the world they are subjected to, as well as the clothing choices they subject the world to. I like to check that they remembered to bathe, change their underwear, brush their teeth, eat their veggies, etc.
It is so painful letting them go.
But I know it is the best for them. They will not be raised with just my crazy notions, my ideas, my pushiness, and my desire for perfection.
They get to see how more than one house works, how different personalities and people are what makes family. They get to see me happy in our house; they get routine, and predictability. And then, they also get to see their Dad, watch him love his significant other and build his happy. Plus, they gain new siblings, do more activities, and get to be loved by so many people.
Their lives are so full of happy things that aren’t just me. (SO SCARY)
It’s the suck-iest and best all in one.
And you want to know a secret? I love the woman on the other side. You know, my ex’s lady, the one taking care of my littles when I am not there. I trust her to keep them safe, I trust her to care for them, to hold them if they’re hurt. I know that she is someone they need in their lives, and I am so grateful she is there.
Sure, I will have moments of weakness. I will sometimes get frustrated that this is our life. It does take me being a way cooler Mom than I would have naturally been. But wine helps. And bitterness gets us nowhere.
So to all those Momma’s who have to share their children, here is a toast to you! They will be home soon, and until then we have Netflix…and Amazon Prime…and Hulu…and iTunes.
And because I am asked so often, I will share some of my rules for co-parenting.
1.) Let it go
One of the big things that became apparent in our sharing was that we couldn’t harbor anger when one of us screwed up. I do not go after him every time he messes up, forgets a snack, or doesn’t sign a form. And in return he gives me the same respect. We have an open policy for mistakes, forgiveness, and moving on. (This sometimes includes the mistake of losing our cool.) It is important that our kids see our relationship with each other as something they can emulate in their own lives.
2.) Encourage Their Joy
We make a point of talking about everything they did while they were away on their adventure with their other family. We laugh, and rehash every detail they want to share. And we make sure they see us happy for them. I don’t want their lives to be like Vegas. What happens at Daddy’s is an exciting part of their journey. If I was to look jealous, act snuffy, or openly defy a choice made there, they would stop sharing half their life with me.
3.) Be Inclusive
I talk about their Dad in a positive way all they time. Maybe too much for my sanity. If I don’t know about something I have the phrase; “You know who is great at that, your father…” And then I tell them a story of their Dad doing that. I constantly reaffirm his love for them. When they miss him, I share pictures and stories, and let them know he is worthy of being missed. I also share them with him, I call him to tell him funny stories, or to tell him about an event, or that they’re sick. I greet him warmly at the door, and always let him know he is welcome where they are.
4.) Never Bring Up The Past
Lose the phrase “This is why our marriage didn’t work” or “You always did….” These pieces of the past have no part of your current relationship. You both know that you’re not married, or together any longer, and nothing positive can be built on a mountain of anger and regret. Focus on now, on what and who you can be to each other outside of that. One amazing thing had to have come out of that failed relationship and that is: your children. Now you have to grow up, and treat your ex as you would like to be treated as the parent of those children. It is so important that you view each other as pivotal pieces in each other’s lives! Because, if you don’t, and can’t, you will fail at the rest.