Co-Parenting …or Not?

Tonight, is the boys’ last night visiting their dad after an 8-month absence.  I have talked to them every night, but just barely, which isn’t surprising given their ages. It hasn’t been terrible, and it certainly hasn’t been stress-free.  The hardest was when I practically had to beg them to talk to me on Christmas. I miss them, but more than that I worry about them.

I worry about what this visit is doing to their hearts?  How does it feel to see that dad has moved on with another family?  How weird is it to see him showing love to another woman?  These questions I will likely never know the answer to, nor can I expect that they even could put into words what it must feel like.

The harder issue, for me, this break, has been expecting parenting out of their father.  When we were still together, and even as we were in the process of separating, we had agreed on certain things (or at least I thought we did).  Snap-chat was a big NO for many reasons, largely influenced by the voices of parents that had gone before.  I also had certain expectations on what things could be watched (such as no MA shows).  Apparently, the rules flew out the window the second they arrived at his home because I have seen them do both…with his knowledge or due to lack of oversight.  Passive-aggressive emails ensued, and I should have known better than to engage.  I keep expecting my ex to behave as the man I thought he was, not the man he has shown himself to be.  It is just hard to observe and have not control over what is seen or heard when not in my care.

So, now the question becomes, how do I deal with this?  I used to think my ex and I could co-parent, but that requires two-way communication and he has been very inconsistent with when he choses to respond.  So, unfortunately, a lot of this is going to be placed on my sons’ shoulders (thanks, Mom, for the advice).  I am going to have some difficult talks over the coming months about trust and them earning and maintaining my trust.  Just because they aren’t with me, doesn’t mean my rules for our family fly out the window. I have tried to explain that the rules aren’t about being strict, but about protecting them – emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually, but as of now, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

In the meantime, I really need to let go of the idea of co-parenting.  He chose to move thousands of miles away from his sons and refuses to consistently engage in conversations about the boys, so I really shouldn’t be surprised.  I will hold up my legal end of the bargain, but beyond that, I need to make the decisions for my sons alone, and engage them in earning my trust.  We spent 8 years making decisions about our boys together, so it is hard to let go, but for my own sanity, I must.  Here is to re-establishing trust in the new year, of my sons, and of my own decisions as their mom.  And also, to laughter and love and finding our groove!

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