The hardest thing I have ever done is co-parent and split my time with my daughter with her dad. I truly had no idea how difficult it would be to share time/love/experiences with him when I was no longer a part of it. We officially separated last year around April. Her dad is a firefighter and we were already used to him not being there. We were already used to a different schedule and way of life, so I thought it wouldn’t be quite so hard, but I was wrong. This was not like our old life. He was never coming home again.
While we both maintain that divorce was the right decision, we both miss having that family unit. I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I suppose that is one reason I don’t write as much as I used to, it hurts. However, these are the things I know I need to write about. These are the things that other people want to know to help them heal, as well as myself. So, I am committing to writing the tough stuff. It is time.
Vivienne, my 4 year old daughter, is perhaps one of the happiest, most loving children I have ever known. I know that this is because of how much we both love her, along with the rest of the family. The end of our marriage was not pretty, in fact, when I really think about it, there was so much that was not pretty. We fought, often. We were not happy. We had so many happy times, but there were also such deep rooted problems. I know that we both knew we couldn’t go on like that. Something had to change. We just couldn’t work as a married couple. We tried, oh we tried, for over 4 years after I got sober. Our love for our daughter was so strong, but that cannot hold a marriage together. It shouldn’t. She deserves happy parents. She needs to know what love is. I remember growing up, witnessing my parents’ marriage. They are not perfect, but in a way, that is what I think is so great about their love. They love each other no matter what, unconditional love. They make mistakes, forgive and persevere. I don’t feel like Travis and I ever really had that chance. We had no base for our love. We were different people when we met and married. The person who he married is dead and gone. I let her go when I got sober. We had nothing to go back to, no passion to find again.
I say all that to say, I think we are great co-parents or at least we are getting there. I am proud of how we let our love for Vivienne rule our decisions and ultimately curb our emotions. Sure, we have fights still, I mean, hello, that is why we couldn’t stay married, but we resolve them and make the best decision for Viv. He did want to kill me over the Santa issue, but that is a whole other post. I am proud of how we can get mad, but move on. I do not have to live with him anymore and vice versa, we just have to love Viv and make good decisions for her.
Sometimes, I sit there in tears when I see pics of all the fun things they do without me. I suppose I could not look, but I want to see my baby. I want to see the smile on her face and know how happy she is. I want to know her life when I am not there. I want to hear her stories and be happy for her, but y’all it is hard sometimes. I try to keep myself busy every night she isn’t there. I try to have myself booked when I know she will be with her dad. I guess that I am lucky since I am in a relationship and have things I truly look forward to when she is gone. Last year, we were off and on, sorta, so I do know a little about dating as a single mom. It is weird. I never dated “normally” since I started drinking when I was 15. I will tell you, getting called a MILF, is strange, flattering an offensive all at the same time. I suppose this is another post. Single moms, dating single moms, I feel for you. This is hard. We can talk about this later. I digress….
Vivienne is the center of my universe and I know the same is true for Travis. He truly loves her with all his heart and is a great dad. I can say that without any hesitation. I suppose that is part of the reason it can be so hard. I want to hate him, but really I wish he was there sometimes. We still text and send pictures of her to each other. We work around each other’s lives and schedules. I guess I will always be a slave to the firefighter schedule because it is important to me that he get the most time he can with her. We help each other and work things out, for her. Plus, I do love him. There was a reason we were married and had happy times. Truth is, Viv is half him. We made her, together. If I hate him, how could I truly love my daughter with my whole heart? I know that there will be someone there to share those family moments with one day, maybe not that far away, but in the meantime I will keep sending pics and Viv anecdotes to him. I will keep calling my mom and telling her Viv antics. I also know that who my forever marriage is with will never be Vivienne’s dad. That will always be Travis, the only one who can fill that role. So I am grateful that we can forge a new friendship out of this. I am grateful that we can share that love for Viv and let it end there. It is pretty awesome to experience my daughter and my boyfriend learning each other, getting to know each other. I love them both and it is fun for them to grow in their relationship, starting to love each other.
Sure, human emotion, we forget the bad and just cling to the good, that clouds emotions and feelings. I am grateful that I have experienced passion and this deep love connection with someone else. I am grateful to know what mutual growth in a relationship is now. I often pray for clarity and peace. God delivers. If you had told me last year, that we would be divorced, both happy in different relationships, yet both working together to be great parents, I would’ve laughed. I didn’t know this was possible, but we are living proof. It can be done. Sure, there will be more fights. We will get mad, argue, but we will get over it. I refuse to be those parents. I just can’t imagine being divorced parents at a school party for Viv standing on opposite sides of the room, acting like we don’t know each other. That just isn’t right, or fair for Viv.
If you know Viv, you know she is vocal. We talk about everything we are all going through. She tells me things I know she hears from everyone. She used to say, “You and Daddy love each other, you just don’t live in the same house,” or “I have 2 houses, well more because I have Ooma & Oompa’s, too.” She is happy. She is always smiling. I think she misses Wyatt, our black lab who went to live with another family, more than she misses us living together. She has this amazing life. She is always doing fun things and going fun places. She goes horseback riding with her dad, the aquarium with me and she even gets to go to Disney with her cousins. This girl doesn’t know how good she has it. She has an abundance of family that all want the best for her. In turn, she shows that love and gives it right back to us.
I can’t tell you how weird it is to see pictures of my daughter sitting in between Travis and his girlfriend. Weird, I know, such a vague word. It is this strange cringe that happens. I don’t want to be that girl. I firmly know our divorce was for the best, but still, that was my spot. No, I don’t want it back. I know he feels the same to see with with me and my boyfriend. It is just weird, folks. Weird. I guess life is just full of weird. I am happy though. Happy for him and happy for me and most of all happy for Viv. Her circle of people who love her just continues to grow and that is truly all that matters.
Maybe the hardest part of it all is getting past my selfishness. I want her. Sharing is hard. Although, in a way, it gives all of us a special relationship we wouldn’t have had any other way. We each get time with her one on one. We form these unique bonds. I like to think of our time together as true quality. We all try to make the most of the moments we get to spend with her. So, while our family is not ideal, we didn’t set out wanting this, I think it is working out to be something truly special. I just do my best to love those that love her and we put her first. I pray for her to know our love and always feel it.