Guest Post: Then and Now

While I am away for a few days, I am sharing a series of guest posts from some awesome bloggers. This one is from Joy, who blogs at Tellin ‘ it like it is… Joy describes herself as:
a human being constantly learning, mom of a 4-year old, partner, teacher, writer, daughter, sister, friend. I love music, travel (armchair and actual), books (to stack on my nightstand or to read),and food (to eat…and ogle.) I blog to keep sane, to entertain myself, and to record my stories. 
I never cease to be amazed at the gifts hidden within even the most painful of experiences. Joy has found such a gift after her own divorce.

Then and Now

Ending a marriage has a million different ramifications, not least of which is the effect it has on the kids (or in my case, the kid.)  I won’t know the exact toll it has taken on my little monkey for years (and let’s face it, I might never know…) but one thing I can attest to is the impact it has made on my parenting.  Err…co-parenting.

When I was part of an official pair and also a parent, for the majority of that time, I was a stay-at-home Mom.  I considered myself lucky and was happy with that arrangement. My mother stayed home with me and my little sister until I was in middle school; moreover, my ex and I had agreed that one parent being at home was the best for our family at the time.  However, when my daughter was a little more than 18 months old, it became financially unfeasible, and as a result, I started back to work part-time as a teacher. Looking back now, that was the beginning of the end.  As a stay-at-home parent, I held a lot (if not all) of the decision-making responsibility when it came to my daughter, not to mention the majority of the execution of said decisions — it was part of the package. I understood it and my daughter flourished.

But the agreement changed…and my responsibilities for my child did not. In many respects, I was happy for the adult interaction, but a seed of resentment was planted in my heart the day I went back to work. I was still doing the same portion of the parenting, but now had the additional work outside the home to manage too.  It was not what I wanted, but it was how it had to be and as the resentment grew bigger, my temper grew shorter, and my parenting …suffered.  That’s putting it mildly. I was short with the monkey. Very short sometimes. And I hated it.  I was unhappy, she was paying for it and I knew it. I also knew certain things had to change, not least of all the state of the marriage and how I wanted to live the rest of my life.

Once I made the decision to end it, I had to go back to work full-time to support myself and my daughter. Although one might think it would be worse than the part-time situation, it’s actually been better when it comes to co-parenting – if I can manage to look at it through a lens not clouded with guilt. (By the way, if anyone has one of those chamois glass-cleaning thingamajigs that gets that off my coke-bottles, please share.)

I now have time of my own. Not that it’s a lot of time because it isn’t. Not that I don’t think of her multiple times throughout the day when she’s not with me because I do…but the days and nights I don’t have her are spent doing things that help me grow and reflect (like, take classes, exercise,  read and …write blog posts like this.) When mommies have time to breathe, grow and reflect, they are better parents.

I am now forced to better communicate both her and my own needs to her Dad, to really spell them out, as we no longer live under the same roof.  It’s all too easy to make assumptions when you’re married, that your spouse will know what you need, should know what you need.  When you’re divorced and co-parenting, you have to be crystal clear. When mommies and daddies communicate better, they are better parents.

I now know that I can survive on my own and take care of my child with the help of my village, which now includes my ex.  When mommies are more confident, they can trust others and are better parents.

I now trust my instincts more.  When mommies trust their instincts, they are better parents.

I now am more grateful for everything I am and have… and it has made me a better parent.

 

Joy can also be found on the following:

 

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