When I thought single parenting was hard, I was parenting by myself. Since I’ve started this coparenting business it’s an entire production in its entirety to put on (basically) by myself. It’s like having a family and not having one too–there’s an entire other parent to consider (even when I don’t want to), schedules, and basically just finding a way to raise a kid that doesn’t suck while wading through a situation that fucking sucks. To be blunt.
It seems that every time I get used to things there’s a new lever or issue that must be dealt with so apparently there will never be any “getting comfortable” here. My recent issue is how to love your coparent enough (as a parent) when you don’t love them as a human.
I don’t know much about love, I learn something new almost every day, but this adventure is a lot like a child in itself. You teach it by being an example of what you want, and when that doesn’t work you tell it flat out (with a string of 4 lettered words if you’re me). It’s a lot like a relationship, also, except a really shitty one with thousands of boundaries and booby traps, but the work is close to the same thing.
Personally, I would like to never speak until my kid asks me to, but this could be practice for me. I guess. So here it is; a list of ways to love me parentally, for the sake of the readers I still have.
My love language is words of affirmation. If you haven’t read the book, read it wtf is wrong with you! That means I could give less than a fuck when you silently do things to prove your love. I will not see it, like at all, and I’ll assume you don’t love me because you haven’t said it. It takes literally no effort to say “Hey you’re a great mom” or “thanks for always making sure our son is good”. Zero effort.
Coupled with that one is number 2, consistency. When you say things to me, mean them and mean them 100% of the time. Not just to keep things good with me, but because they’re true all the time. This is my biggest thing because I don’t like surprises or change. Don’t be one thing to me and something else around other people.
Consider me. Even though we don’t have a traditional family, this is still my family, and I regard it as such. When I make decisions I consider how it will impact all of us, not just my son and I though that is “actually” my family. Sometimes you have to stop and put yourself in my shoes and think of how you would feel if the situation was reversed. This can’t really be a “I do what I want” situation because our child is the same child no matter what day of the week it is. Hell, he doesn’t even know what a visitation schedule is.
Understand. You have to get why sometimes I need to hate you, sometimes I need to not respond and sometimes I just need time to think about things without being goaded into decisions. There is a ton of stress that comes with single parenting and coparenting alike, the last thing I need is you adding more to my plate. Sometimes (all the time) I need my space.
Teach me to love you. Don’t just expect me to jump when you say jump, or to be who I was 2 years ago or even 1 year ago. I adapt to situations presented to me in a way that protects me from being hurt simply because I am not as effective as a mother when I am hurt. It’s not your job to act like a boyfriend because I’m single, but it is your job to support me on parenting things. If I send you a picture, I don’t need a lecture or a lesson, I just need someone to share things with.
Even on the day I get married I will never belong to anyone but my children. Don’t get possessive. I do a good job of not putting “my” in front of anything I call you, and you should do the same. I understand it’s still a bit of an instinct to protect us, or to want to simply because of him, but I’ve had this on my own for years, if I needed a man to protect me I would have one.
and lastly, for the love of all things holy STOP CALLING ME YOUR BABY MAMA. It is the trashiest term I have ever heard and I am far from trashy. Also, if you would stop making/calling me crazy I would stop acting crazy.
If there’s one thing I know about boys and their mamas it’s that you don’t cross mama. I am the most important woman in his life (forever, future wife, don’t get confused) and the way you treat me is how he will treat women. You treat me the way you would want a man to treat your mother–the same lesson I have and will continue giving him, it’s not how you treat the woman you love that defines you as a man, it’s how you treat all women.
Coparenting is the longest, most important relationship you seriously can not ever end, no matter how hard you try. Tell me, guys, what would you like to see change in your coparenting relationship?
Until the next meltdown, SSM