“It’s not fair, but that doesn’t make it not real.”
“Just because it doesn’t make sense, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”
These mantras apply to a lot of life situations, but they also apply to co-parenting. Raising a kid together isn’t always 50-50. Sometimes it feels 90-10. Some days you are the 90. Some days you are the 10. It can be so frustrating when you feel like you’re always the 90. It can be equally frustrating if you’re consistently seen as the 10. Raising a kid takes a lot of effort and even with the best of intentions, it’s normal that it’s not going to be exactly equal all the time. I think we’ve all experienced this on some level, whether you are parenting after separation or not. It doesn’t take the breakdown of a relationship for there to be challenges raising kids together.
Making The Grade
Remember those group projects in high school? You all had to work together on your poster board and everyone’s mark depended on the execution of the task at hand. Some people in your group goofed around and didn’t bring their A game. Some people jump in at the last minute and try to take credit for everyone else’s hard work. Some people have messy handwriting and bad spelling and you have to come along behind and correct it so you don’t flunk. Some people check out and other people have to work harder.
When you’re divorced, your kid is your group project. For better or for worse, you’re in this thing together and you’re trying to turn out a quality product that gets a passing grade. That moment when you have a shiny A, that moment is what makes it all worth it. Keep your eyes on that A that’s coming. All that hard work is going to pay off and you’ll be golden.
My advice for these situations is to try, where possible, to look at the long game. What’s your goal? Raising a good human. Are you doing what you need to on your end to achieve the goal? Whether or not someone else is doing their best, we can still do our best. We can’t control how other people contribute, but we can manage our expectations and control how we react to it.
So…. you’re right, it’s not fair. Stand up for yourself and have firm boundaries. Be Firm Boundaries Barbie: cute shoes, standing tall, not carrying the weight of anyone else’s crap. But keep in mind your “why” – the cute face across the breakfast table. When it’s hard to show up for a co-parent who’s not showing up for you, take a child-centred approach and show up for your tiny human. Yes, it makes the other person’s life easier, and maybe they don’t deserve that consideration, but there’s a win when it benefits your kid.
It’s not fair sometimes and it sucks and sometimes you’re giving 90% of the effort. You can’t keep giving 90% and not recharging your battery. Find an effective way to channel your frustration, take care of yourself and you’ll be better able to power through to collect your A.
This post originally appeared on the Hot Mess Express, a parenting community where I help moderate the single parenting group. If you click on the Hot Mess graphic below and join, I get a small amount of money towards coffee I will probably spill on myself anyways.