Quieting the Mama Bear (Co-parenting)
Quieting the Mama Bear
I made the decision to file for divorce when my daughter was only 2. Up until that point, I had been the 95% parent. I had navigated a high-risk pregnancy, latch issues, colic and milk allergies solo. I managed selling my full-time therapy practice in NYC alone. I implemented a move to be closer to my parents single. Was my then husband parenting? Was he even around? Well, in sporadic pictures it appeared so – but the reality was so much different in my perspective. In fact, for my daughter’s first year of life; my ex-husband remained in NYC while I was up here in Massachusetts.
It was then that I came to the realization that I was NEVER actually married. We were NEVER a team and this whole parenting thing was MY task to take on.
I learned so many wonderful things about my daughter in that first year. Things that still hold true today. She was and continues to be a strong-willed human. When she made up her mind – she made it up! She made it clear whom and what she wanted. And all she wanted then, was her mom! At ten months, after nursing non-stop – she just decided to stop. She never went back. Those around me called her an “old soul” and I would internally wonder if that was code for “challenging” or “frustrating” or “not a go with the flow” kind of kid.
I felt sure that there were aspects of her that nobody else knew. I felt that nobody would understand how to keep her content like I did. I had thoughts of how perfect her imperfections were and how I had to steer her life course to help her be the BEST human she could be.
Now imagine coming from these experiences and mindsets and then having to formulate a shared parenting plan? I remember repeatedly begging my attorney to tell me what a “good” parenting plan looked like with a child so young. He would say “Oh I have this book with guidelines in my office – I just have to find it.” (The book was never found by the way). I had to figure it out on my own. As a result, my ex and I hobbled together a parenting plan that seemed to make sense at the time.
THE FIRST OVERNIGHT
Oh boy – mamas tell me this isn’t the hardest FIRSTS that you experience EVER! I thought for sure, I would handle it with grace.
NOPE – I couldn’t sleep. I worried incessantly. . . . . .
What was I so worried about?
Will he know how to feed her, help her with her toilet training, get her to sleep . . . on and on. .my mind was scrambled. It was my first night of freedom but I couldn’t even get my SHIT together enough to head out the door. My MAMA BEAR was in high gear!
BUT THEN I realized I had to STOP THE INSANITY!
My ex surely would NEVER parent like I did. But he would keep her safe and fed. I had to LET GO!!!!
We have had our share of disagreements along the way over things such as inappropriate video games, food choices, bedtime routines, etc. But what I realized is this:
YOU DON’T HAVE TO FIGHT EVERY BATTLE THAT COMES YOUR WAY.
It’s better for me to say NOTHING.
I am not in control of his parenting nor is he in control of mine. I had to realize that I could only grow and nurture our little garden together and that she had a whole other growing spot over at her dad’s. It was not my job to dominate what he did. It was my job to dominate WHAT I DO!
My daughter just turned 13. She is considered a leader amongst her peers. She stands up for the underdog and I have to say – she is an amazing judge of character. She is resilient, social and independent – I can’t believe she has gotten here!
She wouldn’t have if I didn’t choke out the MAMA bear and LET GO. . .
It gave my ex a chance to STEP UP which is what I see so many dads doing. Allow that space for it to happen. . . . . It is so worth it.