What Hindsight Says

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I wasn’t always sure that I wanted kids. My feminist self feared that motherhood would shuffle me off to the sidelines of life.  Early in my career, professional success gleamed like a silver bauble on the Christmas tree, and I had no way to comprehend how it might tarnish.

Nor had I any idea, really, what being a mother meant.  So when my then-husband and I took the plunge and I gave birth to two sons in my early thirties, I learned.  I learned that parenting is unrelenting, giving back only slivers of reward in the first blur of little sleep. That you don’t know if you’re doing it right. That there often isn’t enough of you to go around.

Yes, there were sweet cuddles, flashes of joy, and feeling like a hero when I stepped inside the door to my toddlers’ welcome. For me, the greatest rewards emerged when my children started to become themselves, and I could be in a relationship with those precious and unique boys.

Now I get it. I know why my parents would light up in the presence of my sister, brother, and me. Those years of intensity and challenge forged a bond that is tethered in my core.

My sons’ father was part of the same journey. We divorced when the boys were five and eight.  Right then, through hurt, I might have sought to care for them full-time myself.  I didn’t, because I knew their dad was important to them— they would suffer without his presence in their lives.  And I would be a better mother with time to breathe.

Looking back, I am deeply thankful that we co-parented them to adulthood. The biggest reasons are, of course, the men they have become. Having two loving parents seems to have outweighed the hassles of navigating two homes.

Another reason is their father.  Knowing the meaning they bring to my life, I cannot fail to recognize that they do the same for him.

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Oriah, Thank-you.

I have never met Oriah Mountain Dreamer, but she set me on the path to write about co-parenting after divorce. She inspired me with her books: ‘The Invitation”, “The Dance” and others.  She writes tender, vulnerable thoughts full of what is possible.

It was three pages in “The Dance” that grabbed me years ago, where she described helping her young adult sons prepare to take part in their father’s remarriage ceremony. She saw them so clearly:  their self-doubts, their hopes of looking cool, their trying to sort through social rituals like escorting women up the aisle in church. I loved her for that. Then her own bittersweet feelings, of pride, regret, anxiety, and hope for the future seeped through the pages and I was stunned.

I had never seen my own mixed-up feelings on co-parenting reflected on a page in a book. Suddenly, I felt not alone. I had company on my journey with my own teenage sons, and it felt wonderful.  I had no idea a few pages of text could impact me so deeply. Understanding her feelings helped me to see my own more clearly, and to have more compassion for us both.

When I realized that the inside experience of mothers and fathers – their feelings and thoughts — wasn’t reflected in the books available, I realized that ‘someone’ should write a book, and that ‘someone’ would be ME. I was living co-parenting; I interviewed people on sensitive topics as part of my work; and I had decent writing skills.

It took years to even begin, and more years to find a range of other parents to interview, but the book, Co-Parent Stories: Harvest of Hope, is nearly done. I hope and believe it will do for other parents what those few pages did for me, and more.

Oriah, thank you.Blooms picture

 

 

 

 

Co-Parent Stories: Paying It Forward

Welcome.

Have you heard the expression, “Bloom where you’re planted?” It means being able to flourish when we find ourselves in a place we didn’t choose. Co- parenting after divorce is often a spot we have stumbled into reluctantly. Because who sets out to marry and get divorced with children?

I can’t say my early years of co- parenting felt like blooming. More like surviving. It was in-your-face intensity, day after day. Now, with my sons grown, I can see how important and worthwhile that time was, though hard and lonely. At the time, I just kept going, trying to keep us all afloat.

This blog, and the book I am writing, Co-Parenting Stories of Moms and Dads: Harvest of Hope, is my way of offering support to parents who are thinking about or doing co-parenting. Because parenting matters.

Are you co-parenting? What helps you, and what makes it harder? Where do you find hope? Please add your stories and comments below.

And stay tuned for more on divorced parents finding their way.