My co-parent has a girlfriend and it’s pretty serious. When I first caught wind of him dating someone, I must admit that I was relieved because I felt less responsible for his feelings as well as being glad that he found someone that could make him happy. For about nine months I knew about her only in name and I was just fine with that. I’d even been accommodating with our visitation schedule because my co-parent wanted to go away to visit his lady friend during his regularly scheduled time with the boys. I really wanted to be supportive of his new relationship and I became a cheerleader for meeting her and even allowing the boys to spend some time with her.
I was excited until I actually met her and it sunk in that she would in fact be around my progeny. Our first meeting was brief, cordial, and pretty run of the mill; but there was one major issue: I saw her interact with my children and it occurred to me that she had been in more contact with them than I’d originally thought and it pissed me off. She seemed a bit too familiar, and a bit too willing to interject even when I was present. At this point I’ll say this: I love the idea of my boys having another person in their life that cares for them. I love the idea of their father being happy, and in turn, sharing his happiness with them, but that feeling goes out of the window when I feel my position as mother is threatened, whether perceived or real.
As I write this, I struggle with the level of detail to share about this situation for a few reasons. One is that although I’m an open book, everyone involved is not. That makes this tricky because I’m committed to speaking my truth and the experiences I encounter, but I do care about the my relationship with my co-parent, and I don’t want to unnecessarily ruffle feathers with him. Another reason is that I’m still in the early stages of my interaction with my co-parent’s partner and we’re being forced to encounter each other under some unexpected circumstances, so some of the feelings might be a bit skewed. Last reason: I’m pro-woman and it’s hard for me to admit when it’s difficult for me to completely accept a potential sister, but in this case, I get the feeling that there may be a difference in approach, opinion, or whatever between us when it comes to what acceptance looks like.
Although I say all of the reasons that I’m a bit unsteady about going all the way in, my nature won’t allow me to sugarcoat my thoughts about this latest adventure in co-parenting.
This past weekend, my oldest son turned 9 and his father and I decided to combine our efforts and have his birthday celebration at his home. Leading up to the party, I was anxious because, well, his girlfriend would be very much present and our last interaction left me feeling some kind of way about her and our one on one encounters. The party itself turned out great and my boys all had a good time and no fights jumped off and no shade (almost no shade) was thrown. Although everything turned out well with the celebration, there were a few tense moments and actions that tested my patience that were hard to ignore and from there the “life lessons” started to kick in.
The first thing that became painfully clear to me, was that my irritation with the entire situation was that it makes me feel like my identity is being tampered with. Another woman being a potential mother figure does not feel good to me, the actual mother. I’ve worked hard to be a good mother to my boys, and in a lot of ways I’ve had to relinquish being the “fun parent” to make sure they had what they needed at the time. Their father’s always been the exciting parent, and the one to experience a more relaxed relationship with the boys. In the last few months, I’ve been more “fun leaning” and with her entrance and attachment to their father, I initially felt like her presence compromised that because, well, she’s very similar to their father in that way and I didn’t want them to like her more than they like me. Which brings me to the next epiphany: she’s very similar to my co-parent personality wise and I’m not sure that I like that. It sounds petty, but it’s the truth. The things about my co-parent’s personality that I had a hard time dealing with, within and without the marriage, were very prevalent in my meetings with her and I didn’t (and don’t) like it. I won’t go into detail about those traits, but I will say that I’m very clear on what I picked up. I didn’t like the prospect of having to deal with double the “personality defects”. The truth is, there’s no reason for me to believe that we would ever be friends outside of these circumstances, and now I’m having to entertain the thought of truly having to “vibrate higher” and see things through until we find some equilibrium.
I could go on about the things that I don’t like, but at this stage I have to ask myself, what’s the point? My children like her and my co-parent clearly loves her, so who am I to block that? So, like most things in life, I have to look at myself relative to the situation and beyond. I think I know the point of all of this and the potential benefit from it, but it’s sometimes daunting to think about the work that I need to do to contribute to that. The fact is, I’ve asked for some really great things of the universe concerning personal and business matters, and I have to believe that another adult coming into my existing universe is meant to serve the purpose of getting me and those I love where we need to be. That sentiment is the truth, but I do remain in pocket to tap that ass if my children are endangered in any way, but at this point, my mommy BS meter’s not going off about the kids, so I’ll choose to stand in stillness and allow the answers toward equilibrium in this current configuration of my family to come my way.
It’s still early, but I think we’ll be just fine. It’s difficult at times to own my shit in this situation, but I have to. What works for me is to continue getting really clear about me as a person and my expectations for my life, so that I can articulate them to any person coming into my life, no matter the circumstances. I think I wanted this transition to be easy breezy and require very little discussion, but it’s just not that straightforward and it requires a huge amount of patience and compassion and clarity. Probably more than I’ve ever had to share in a long time. At this stage in this story, I can only behave as if the best is yet to come and keep it positive.
May the co-parenting saga continue…
What are your thoughts? For my experienced co-parents, what do you think?