I don’t have a simple, uncomplicated life. My parents have a beautiful, honest, faith-filled marriage of 40 years, and set a very good example for me. I wouldn’t have guessed I would end up getting married 3 times, but here it is–reality. I don’t want a different life.
I have 5 daughters. They have 3 dads–my loving husband Keith and two ex-husbands, Norman and Demetrius. They are good guys. They are awesome dads.
We have our differences in opinions; we have had many arguments. Regarding their relationships with our daughters, the best reminder I can give myself–that’s not about me. It’s not about my history with them; it’s not about my present feelings toward them.
Be reasonable to me, and I will be reasonable to you. Be unreasonable to me, give me some time to sit and think and fume, and I will still be reasonable to you.
I have a hot temper; I can be overly sensitive; I know how to stand my ground; I can overreact. Yet for all the things I’ve done wrong in my own life, I think both of my exes would say–I’ve been a kind and decent co-parent.
Co-parenting can be awkward and painful and unpredictable and sad, but still…it’s not about me. It is incredibly hard to separate all that out, and I don’t claim to have always done it perfectly.
Take yourself out of the parenting decision, even when you’ve been treated unfairly recently. I can’t tell you how hard that is to do if you haven’t ever had to do it. But lots of times, the hard thing and the right thing…are the same thing.
What is best for our daughters? I want them to have good relationships with their dad and his friends and his relatives. That’s the truth. When you make the right choice in coparenting, you usually have that courtesy reciprocated later. But even if you won’t, the right decision doesn’t stop being right.
I’ve been through 2 divorces. I’ve done and said many things that I’m not proud of. I’ve endured a lot of things I didn’t deserve. And still…it’s not about me. It’s just not…because I have 5 daughters who are more important to me than I am to myself.
I decided to include the particulars of my personal relationship/marriage/family history. I don’t know if this will make future blogs any clearer, but here they are nonetheless–
Norman….15 years together; January 25, 1997-March 11, 2012 (married June 27, 1999; divorce final August 1, 2012; I cheated and left). We had 3 daughters together–Margaret (Dec 2001); Hazel (Aug 2003); Audrey (Mar 2005). He remarried in May 2013. She has no kids; they’ve had none together.
Demetrius…2.5 years together; February 4, 2012-Sept 22, 2014 (married April 27, 2013; divorce final December 17, 2014; he cheated and left). We had 1 daughter–Clara (Oct 2013). He remarried in March 2016. She has one daughter (4 or 5); they’ve had none together.
Keith…1 year together so far; February 16, 2015-now. (Married July 27, 2015). I have my 4 daughters (now 14, 12, 11, 2.5); he has two sons (now 18 and 16), and one daughter (now 15). We have one daughter together Rebekah (Feb 2016).
My three older girls were 10, 8, and 7 when I chose to leave and force a new living dynamic for all of us. From the beginning, I have agreed that Norman should have them every Tuesday and Thursday night from 5pm until school the next morning. He gets them every other weekend 5pm Friday until 8am Monday when they go to school.
I pick them up from school daily. We pretty much follow the standard order regarding holidays and vacation. Norman ended up buying a house less than a block away from my house. As surprising as that was at first, it’s honestly been very convenient for our daughters. We have had some snags and complications, but overall, I feel like our coparenting is successful.
Clara was 11.5 months when Demetrius chose to leave and force a new living dynamic for all of us. I agreed that the standard order isn’t fair to dads and that he should see her more often than that. I agreed that he could eventually have the same schedule with Clara as Norman did my other 3. But at first it was only 5-8pm on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and 1-5pm on his Saturday and Sunday. And we slowly agreed to increase it. She basically has the same overnight schedule as my older girls now, except for Sundays.
I have Clara all day, take her to the gym childcare when I work. Demetrius’ mom usually spends time with Clara when Demetrius is out of town. I was not in the mood for being reasonable about visitation the first month after he left. I really got overwhelmed and scared by many facts that fell in my lap. We have had more complications than I had with Norman, but we work them out.
Sure, there’s a fine line between theory and practice, but I try to keep the two in similar places. If there is one mantra that I could tell a newly divorced mom she needs–it’s not about me. You need that; your kids need that. Say that to yourself any time you have to make a tough parenting choice. I don’t particularly like to hear either of my exes say it to me, can’t lie about that. But it’s the most helpful thing I’ve ever said to myself.