Co-Parenting and Giving Up Control

No one said it would be easy, but no one said it would be this hard either

I remember the day my husband left. My son was two-and-a-half. Things had been going badly for awhile. Our relationship had deteriorated; I would describe it as excruciating. We had lost mutual respect. I cried daily. I needed to breathe. As soon as he drove away, I started to breathe and have every night since, almost five years ago. I remember blubbering the words "You are not on my team."  It was all I could muster at the end of yet another struggle and before his truck rolled away.

Shortly after, there would be separation agreements and custody arrangements. There would be family get-togethers, parent-teacher interviews, and Christmas dinners that we would have to attend together. I remember painting fake smiles on our faces at the Preschool Christmas party right after a heated argument about whether to sell the house we jointly owned. There would be times I didn't feel like doing dishes or making lunches after a long day, and there was no one to jump in. There was no one to pick up diapers or milk while my son had his nap and no one to relieve me when I went down with the flu. Over the years, I have learned to adjust.

But the biggest shock—the one I struggle with every day—is that I would have to give up control. I go days each week without seeing my son (I have him four-and-a-half days; his dad has two-and-a-half days each week). I spend two weeks alone in the summer while he vacations with his dad. Each Thursday I hope that his dad remembers to pick him up from school at the right time and place. I have to believe that he will get to hockey or baseball practice on time with all the required equipment. Don't get me wrong—we call and text regularly, but the reality is that as much as I might try, I no longer can control my son's bed time or his healthy food intake, the roughhousing, the manners, or the discipline. I can't control how often my ex reads to him at bedtime or which movies he allows my son to watch. I can't control who my ex-husband dates, the language he uses, the activities he partakes in. When you ask someone to leave your life, you give up significant pieces. You give up control.

Thinking back I wasn't prepared for this part. I am still not. He is my son. I know, I know: our son.  But I carried him; I delivered him. I spent the first fourteen months alongside him every moment. I raise him a good portion of each week. I do drop offs, pick ups, play dates, swimming lessons all while loading bikes, wiping tears and remembering show and tell. And then I have to walk away, stay quiet and let go of it all.  After five years, I can honestly say I haven't adjusted. This part doesn't get easier, and I wish it wasn't quite this hard.