Today My husband and I got up and got ourselves ready for church. There was no waking up the kids, fighting with them about what to wear (even though we picked it all out the night before) or where their dang socks were. We didn’t have to pour cereal or do 3 little heads of hair. In fact I laid in bed as long as I could just staring at my husband who got up earlier than me to iron his suit. The sun was shining in our bedroom and it hit him in such a way that I just didn’t want to take my eyes off him. The warmth of the moment was so peaceful and fitting on this Sabbath day. I was excited for this weeks Sacrament Sunday because it was what we Mormons call, the best Sunday of the year, the Primary Program.
I’m sure most of the mom’s were making sure their kids had their best dresses and suits on, that their hair was perfectly curled or combed, parts memorized and that they got it all done in time as to not arrive late (Mormon standard time is the norm with kids). Then when they arrived they can sit and watch their kids with a sense of relief and pride!
Not all of that happened for me today though. I’m divorced and so It wasn’t my week. I didn’t need to worry or be sad about it though. I knew the kids would look amazing, that they’d be on time and fed, teeth brushed, and that they be ready for their parts in the primary program of the ward we attend with the other set of parents. That’s right we all attend the same church every Sunday.
Honestly on days like today, especially, I am grateful they are at their other home. Not because I get to sleep in (of course that’s totally amazing, I’m not ashamed to say it!) or because I don’t feel rushed, but because the other mom in this team is so great at that kind of stuff! She always has them so well dressed and hair so adorable and they don’t seem frazzled like they would with me if I was attempting to get three children ready for a big event. I’m not sure how she does it because on top of it all she’s always so put together too. I guess we all have our superhero skills as mommas! The best thing for us or me at least (since I am just speaking for myself, she may think I’m a crazy mess of a mom! Haha!), is that I get to have my own specific set of skills and powers yet still utilize hers! I feel like together we make a mom team that is unbeatable.
It’s not been an easy road to get here. For those of you out there struggling with the fact that you “share” your child with other parents, ones you didn’t chose but your ex did I know how you feel! I think the scariest two words you can say to a parent going through divorce is JOINT CUSTODY. It’s one thing to get divorced and split assets, but your baby cubs?! Mamma bear (or daddy bear) totally comes out and you start acting all crazy and snarling teeth at anyone else who dare attempt to raise your kids. Why do we immediately think the worst?!
For me, it was different, I knew the other mom before. I saw her raising a child.my kids knew her and loved her, and I knew her and respected her parenting style. We probably wouldn’t have been friends from the beginning if I didn’t. My story will never be your story and I respect that and understand. However, there are things you can learn from my life and hopefully apply them to yours. Listen, it wasn’t like my ex husband remarried and I was super nice and welcoming to the idea of co-parenting. The other mom will tell you I was definitely crazy and probably still am a little. It’s in our nature! The nice thing in my situation is we both share each others kids so we get it!
Over time we have come to realize that fighting each other is a lot harder than working together. We have established a line of communication that makes it easy to coordinate schedules and if there is something that one can attend but the other can’t no matter who’s week it is, we make sure someone is there. Or for really improtantant things we are both there. Our husbands are hard workers and so most of the time the kids activities are up to us. I’m pretty sure the girls gymnastics and for a while the school thought we were a lesbian couple. We of course played along. The point is, if we couldn’t communicate well, then these activities would be difficult not only for us as parents but for the kids to fully enjoy themselves.
After all, Joint Custody doesn’t mean each house shuts off their phones for the week and the other parents are on their own. When the kids are sick or hurt or need anything we send a text or call to let the other parents know. And offer assistance to each other as needed. Divorced Parents shouldn’t look at their time with the kids as only THEIRS and I think that mindset gets a lot of people in that bitter power struggle between homes. I call that mindset Selfish parenting. Open Communication does not mean you’re weak. Open communication allows us to find those strengths in the other parents and combine yours with theirs. To build a home together!
So many people refer to divorce with kids as a “broken home”. I look at my kids life and see nothing broken about it. They get equal time with parents who love them dearly. Those weeks without them are hard, but they allow my husband and I to reset if you will. To have mornings like today where I know all will be well and taken care of and I in a rare mom moment can take care of myself.
I’ve of course had to soften my heart over the years and in so doing I have seen a future that is full of soccer games where we can all sit together and cheer them on, together. Where after the game our kid doesn’t have to pick what parent he runs to first because we are all there together on the sidelines. Ive seen parent teacher conferences where four parents sit around a table with each teacher discussing our kids future. I’ve seen a future where I’m stading next to our girls getting them ready for their weddings but I’m not alone, the girls have two mothers helping fix the dress and veil and one of us (cough cough not me-she knows it’s her) bawling uncontrollably on those days! I see two fathers teaming up on any potential suitors. Two fathers doing camping trips, scouts, blessing, and instilling values in a boy who loves them both and heeds their advice. I see a future where when older, our Children recognize what we did for them and thank us by showing the same love for their children. I see an eternity full of a happy and blessed posterity.
So no, Today I didn’t get my kids ready for their primary program, but I was able to watch them sing their songs, speak their parts, look amazing, and feel that relief and pride that all the other mothers who did get them ready, felt.