Tag Archives: Hope

Harvesting Wisdom from Stories

Our children change every day as they grow; as parents we are on an endless path of learning and growing, too. What should I say now? How can I get that done?

Add divorce and it can be overwhelming.

I have heard that soldiers from the world wars defined themselves in the intensity of battle and were different people ever after. For me, divorcing my children’s father and finding workable ways to co-parent with him had a similar impact. There was so much pain, growth, and learning for me, whether I looked for it or not.

Knowing that the co-parenting my boys’ dad and I did was only one of many ways to do this, I have interviewed forty-two mothers and fathers who co-parented.  Their stories made me ache. They inspired me.  I felt amazed, angry and admiring. Each story unique.

What Stories Do

Their stories as I recorded them don’t try to condense the whole complexity of life into one lesson, or two. Instead each story lays out one particular set of events that we can follow, and see what happens, and why.P1000180

I find what happens inside people compelling and fascinating. And useful! How we see our world, our choices, shapes what we do, and how we do it. The parents who agreed to speak with me shared their outside and inside stories. By doing this, they allowed me in, knowing that their choices and ways of thinking wouldn’t always make sense to others.

But in reading many stories, we can start to see where our own story fits. And then we feel less alone.

We get ideas on how others approached horribly hard things.  Hearing how other parenting stories end, as the children reach maturity, we can feel hope that our story, too, will end well. Hope is part of the wisdom we can harvest from others’ stories.

If you are co-parenting, where are you in your story? How do you want your story to unfold in 2015? Think about how to translate what you feel and want – your inside story – into actions. I hope you’ll share below in the Comments.

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.

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