You’d think that amicable separations are less complicated. At least that’s what I thought. I’d always grasped the idea that a relationship between two people is it’s own entity. With my recent separation from my son’s father, I’ve come to understand this at a whole other level. There are times I feel certain that I made the right decision for our family and myself. Just as many times I have sobbed letting go of the dream I held of our family life with our son. I feel ambivalence when nostalgia hits me like a wave after we’ve shared some quality family time. The ups and downs in our sense of closeness and working together as we navigate this new territory are constantly changing. For me, there is a delicate balance to weighing my son’s welfare and sense of security with my sanity when making decisions to have a good deal of family time together during times of disagreement, or trying to emotionally move on from each other.
We both try our best to allow our boy all the room he needs to express his feelings, and contact the missed parent, or even see the missed parent if possible. My son’s father and I are both committed to this as much as feels good for us. When our boy cries out at night for Papa, I comfort and assure him that his Papa is close by and that he will get to have special time with Papa very soon. And his Papa does the same when our boy wants Mama to have a “sleep over” at what was the family home for all of us. Going on a family bike ride, trick or treating, and plenty of time shared together in my new home with friends and family, are just some of the things we do together which ease our son’s feeling of loss.
The advice to make a well defined schedule, and explain to the child that that’s the way it is, with the idea that they will adjust better if they get used to a strict routine is not that simple. I noticed that when our son doesn’t see his papa for a couple days, that although he seemed “fine” throughout the day, he would quietly sob in moments alone and begins to show distress other ways. I respond with comfort, sensitivity, and flexibility. We try to have our boy have some extra time with Papa, even it is pick up and drop off for school on the busy weekdays when over nights might be a few nights apart. I’m not saying that our way is for everyone. The relationship between the co-parents needs to be functioning decently to manage to pull this off.
Do I feel confused at times with the togetherness and our decision to move forward separately? Yes I do. Now the holiday season is upon us, and we have begun talking with each other about what this will look like. We all know that holiday time can be emotional, and especially with these kinds of changes in a family. I don’t pretend that I am always graceful on this path. For me, sourcing the co-parent between us means allowing the dynamics of change to unfold while I keep my eye on my number one priority, my son. I know that I will always be the best I can for him, and that will be enough.