You’re filling out mundane paperwork for a new doctor for your 4 year old. The next question: Where does the child primarily reside? And I check off two boxes, mother AND father. I scribble in the numbers 50/50. But what does my marital status have to do with my parenting? Everything and nothing.
Hi! I’m Julie. New Orleans Native. Business Owner. Sister. Daughter. I’m lots of things. But first always and forever, I’m a mom. My children have a father, but we don’t live together or share the same last name. Oh, and we used to be married. To each other. Good or bad, you can’t recognize my parental status without acknowledging my marital status. Sure, my children are not being raised in the traditional 4b,2b, 2800 sq ft, 2 car garage life. But they are happy. And so am I.
My life isn’t going to look like many, and it doesn’t have to in order to be good, wonderful, warm or loving.
I am not a single mom though.
They are being raised just as much by their father, with a sprinkling of extended family and friends that love them so much. If we had to pick a title, we co-parent. We have two separate lives that run and intersect and co-mingle in and out of days, into weeks, through months and into years. What does that mean for others? I don’t know, and I didn’t spend a moment of time to find out. But I know what it means for me.
We work together, as a team, raising the children with the children’s best interest in mind. We do our best to seek cohesiveness and respect the fact that we will do some things, maybe a lot even, differently.
How did we get to this point?
How did we go from “Let’s end this marriage,” to “Hey, I’ve got a date this Friday, can you take the kids?” Gah! Yes, that actually happens. Some folks would never want to discuss this publicly. And certainly, there are things meant to stay private. And you best believe I ran this past their dad before publishing this.
When life is picture perfect, we’re so glad and happy to Instagram for days the smiling faces. Facebook albums full of family vacations. But when our life is different or in transition, but perfect for US, we remain quiet and refrained. We may be afraid of being judged or maybe shamed that we are no longer “normal” or “perfect.” I encourage you to embrace your family structure! People will judge you anyway, so you may as well be your happiest and most authentic you!
We don’t always approach raising the kids the same way.
But we try not to get in each other’s way also. If the children’s best interest are being met, then we let it go.
Co-parenting takes a lot of communication. It means taking your issues with the other parent and taking them out of the equation. Right / wrong / keeping score all goes out the window if you want to have a happy co-parenting life. It is rare not to speak to or text their father about homework, girl scouts, snack day, a broken tennis shoe, speech lessons, a birthday party, a rash … nearly every day.
Maybe one day we won’t need to communicate as much. Maybe we will use group texting with the girls in the loop. One day at a time for now.