Lately, I have seen a lot of about fantastic co-parenting situations. Most times it makes me smile a little, other times... I think the ancestors said, "a shot dog barks," I feel a prick sometimes when I see it. If you know what I'm talking about you know it's not jealousy, that emotion would be way too easy for this situation. I remember presenting my co-parent with a book I found on the topic at the bookstore. I had laid out a plan, outlined why it was important we worked as a team. I thought it would work. It was the only real option in my mind.
Sometimes the best-laid plans lead straight to hell. Honestly, every co-parenting situation is not ideal. Some are far from it and it's hard not take it personally. At least it is for me. To put it frankly, it feels like a personal failure on so many levels.
1. What the fuck was I thinking?
2. What does this mean about my decision-making skills?
3. Is it me?
4. Did I just create a dysfunctional family unit!?
5. This makes me a stereotype.
6. Hide me.
7. This is a huge stain. Am I stained?
8. So much humiliation.
This list could go on and on. I read a great article, in Essence, a few years ago I wish I could find it. If you figure out what I am talking about, put the link (HERE). The author was talking about how she hid that her child's father was in jail. She talks about how ashamed she felt about it and how she worked thru that shame and eventually used the experience as a source of strength and wisdom.
One day I will get to that place. Right now, I'm still processing the loss of my dream of a relatively perfect co-parenting unit. I have learned slowly to be gentle with myself. Co-parenting is a team sport, and you can't carry the weight on your own. I have to constantly remind myself that the default of blaming women for the difficulties is almost always steeped in in all sorts of -ism that have nothing to do with my worth or effort //catharsis//. I remember requesting a police report I filed only to see that the officer referred to me as "baby momma." I remember trying to think back to see if I was giving of "baby momma" vibes. WTF does that even mean? Why? Why did I even bother when I was an African-American Studies/Women's Studies Major at the time? That is was these situations do to your mind. Pulls it apart at the seams.
No one want's to be "that" girl. Part of the black renaissance, at least from my perspective, is re-framing black motherhood. A much needed and appreciated endeavor but one that makes talking about messed up co-parenting situations feel like the wrong move. The truth is "good" parenting and hard parenting situations can co-exist. My voice does not devalue the movement, I hope not, at least. It's not the same old stereotype.
I don't have any particularly spectacular advice for women in the situation, I am still learning. All I can do is share my experience. I think I will be learning for a while; long after things change I will be unpacking and healing and that's ok. I can accept that now because I am past the point were it consumes all my joy. It absolutely did at one point, it happened and I am still reminding myself to forgive myself, it is a cycle.
The questions I ask myself in those moments.
1. If I could go back what would I change / what am I regretting about that period?
2. Can I do any of that stuff now?
I read this great article about mistakes it's been coming to mind periodically since I read it a week or so ago. I am sure co-parenting is something I will be writing about again if for no other reason that confronting the lie that my perspective is not valuable because my situation is a mess. Pushing thru that mess and towards the goal of raising a healthy happy child and ALL my other goals has value.