I chat about single parenting, co-parenting and the blended family a lot on this here blog. But I always try to keep it neutral when it comes to sharing the deets of my own life and situations, simply because my story isn’t only MY story and I want to respect the privacy of all parties involved in our co-parenting journey. So you’ll often find me referencing a friend or family member when chatting about these topics… I mean, most blended families experience the same kind of challenges anyways.
But today I need to share from my own personal experience. I need to tell you guys what is on my heart. And I need to be transparent or else the guilt will consume me.
So this past weekend we celebrated my boy’s Matric Dance. It was a huge deal for me (as I explained here) because I single-parented my way through most of his schooling since his dad lives in another part of the country. So yes, guys, I hired the backdrop, made sure my family wore matching outfits and I even arranged tables of finger foods (you know, old school style) because it was a worthy celebration.
I thought that I had done right by my child, but alas, all was not well. He wasn’t happy. The puffy eyes told me so.
It turns out no matter how fancy his photo backdrop or how delicious the finger foods were, one thing was missing for him. His dad. The boy needed the reassurance that only a bio dad can give, I guess. But all he got was silence.
I knew this would happen. In fact, I spent the week EXPECTING the guy to be a no-show. Kinda WANTING him to prove me right, so that I could have that “I told you so!” moment and somehow feel vindicated. I mean, that would prove to everyone that I’m not just a disgruntled “baby mama” who nags about everything (as we do, apparently)… right?
But when the day of said vindication came, instead of feeling as if I won, I felt like a loser… like I had failed my child. Seeing the longing on his face totally broke me.
I was completely at war with myself… blaming myself for what could have been. I mean, I could have done more to give my child what he so desperately needed that day… a little bit of his bio dad.
I’m a creative lass. I could have made a plan to get the kid’s father to somehow be present… booked a plane ticket, bus ticket, whatever it took.
Or maybe I should have gotten his dad and “other” family to send through video clips congratulating him. I could even have made a photo collage or a video montage, to give the kid the feeling that his bio dad is here, even if just in thought. I should have let the boy know that his bio dad is proud of him, even if he didn’t actually say this with his own mouth (to me, atleast).
Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda.
After some deep introspection, I realised that I needed to let go of the guilt. I had been walking around with anger (towards the guy and towards myself) and it wasn’t helping the situation. I mean, instead of wanting the kid’s dad to be a great father, I kinda set him up for failure (in my heart, atleast) by expecting the worst. And instead of reassuring my child, I allowed myself to operate in spite.
I was reminded that, as the baby mama, spitefulness and vindictiveness will only HURT YOUR CHILD. Your child’s heart is more important than the need to be proven right. I mean, sure you can’t force the other parent to be present, but wouldn’t you want that for your child anyways?
I learnt that the key ingredient to successfully co-parenting your kid is to remove your ego. I can’t control you (or make you respond to my messages) but I can control me and my motive. It’s my job to be the best parent to my child… whether my ego likes it or not. Walking in grace and forgiveness isn’t a temporary thing for “when I feel like it”. It’s constant and it is meant to be applied to ALL relationships in your life… even the challenging ones that involve your kid’s other parent.
I am so thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning and that we get an opportunity to try again, no matter how messy the situation seems.
Clip note: I married the BEST man in the whole entire world, friends. Hubstopher totally stepped up and did everything and more to fill the missing hole. After the dance, the two of them had a great heart to heart, which I do believe brought a lot of healing.