Eek! My first official rebuttal. If that's the right term...
If you are part of my facebook world (you should be, you know..go here and like it) you know that I have big feelings about things I read regarding divorce and ex-husbands and all that fun stuff. Two things, in particular, tend to get stuck in my craw and get me frothing: People who live in la-la land and think the rest of us do too, and people who tell others that there is one certain way to do things, and if you don't do it that way, you are either crazy or bitter or uncompromising. Also, your kids are going to end up as serial killers.
I've posted links to many of these articles, and said my piece about them. I post them on my facebook page for a couple of reasons: number one is usually because I can't believe what I've just read, and need to hear from "my people" that I'm somewhat justified in my indignation. Number two is I want to hear what YOU think about it. Doesn't matter if you agree with me or not, it's like bringing a friend along with you when you pick out curtains or a new haircut..sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes to offer up a new perspective. And even if we end up disagreeing? I don't judge. Potaytoes, potahtoes.
The article that finally pushed me over the edge and drove me to write was published on Huffington Post Divorce earlier this week. You need to read it, if you haven't already, before I can go on. Link HERE.
Now, I'm not going to bash the author, Judith Rabinor. I understand where she's coming from..really! I get it. Who wouldn't want the best for their kids? I know I do. And you, my awesome readers/friends, want the same thing. We all do.
But why is the onus on us, the other spouse, the one who does the majority of the parenting, to "help your ex be the best parent he or she can"? When did that become OUR responsibility? My ex is 45 years old. He wipes his own butt and can drive a car and I assume can tie his own shoes. And for sweet baby Jesus' sake, I'd like to think that by this time he should also know how to parent.
If he doesn't? Why is it up to me to help him?
Here is where some of you will say, "Because, Jenny, helping him be a better parent will benefit your kids. And aren't you the one who is always blathering on about how much you love your kids? Duh."
This is where Judith and I part ways. I'm skipping next to her, holding hands and whistling Dixie out of my nethers right up until she presented her bullet-pointed list of how to "Go To Bat" for my ex:
Helping my ex be the best parent he could be? Let me tell you exactly what that meant.
- It meant prioritizing my children's well being. I didn't have to love or like their father, but I had to respect the significance he had and should have in the rest of their lives.
- It meant moving over, making room for his way of being.
- It meant being gentle.
- It meant letting go of all that happened in our marriage.
- It meant creating a new relationship centered solely on co-parenting.
Second point? Moving over? Making room for his way of being? Sorry, but to me that sounds an awful lot like bending over, grabbing your ankles and hearing "Oops we're fresh out of lube. Sorry!". This is where I leave you, Judith.
I've done a lot of "moving over" for him. I've made plenty of room for "his way of being". Quite frankly, I think it's time for him to move over and make room for my way of being, which for the past several years has been solo parenting on a threadbare shoestring budget.
His "way of being", in my opinion, is being a non-involved parent. And not a very good one, at that. Am I supposed to go to bat for him every day he doesn't take full advantage of his parenting time? Should I have gone to bat for him this past Sunday, which was Easter and according to our divorce decree "his" holiday...and he didn't take the kids? No communication, no texts, no emails, no phone calls. Nothing. Judith, what should I have done?
Is it my responsibility to remind him that the next holiday is his? I don't think it is. I have four kids, and it's hard enough to keep THEIR obligations organized, thank you very much. Surely there's an app for this that he can put on his phone..an alarm of some sort that will nudge him out of whatever oblivion he lives in and tell him "GO PICK UP YOUR KIDS". (and if there's not an app for that, I demand royalties from whomever takes this idea and runs...)
And then I read this one: "It meant being gentle."
I have tried. And yes, I've failed some of the time. But since that ugly morning when he walked out the front door before the kids woke up, I have tried to take the high road. I've tried being the better person and God knows I've turned the other cheek so many times I have plumb run out of cheeks.
There comes a time when "being gentle" becomes "being a doormat". And I won't do that anymore. I'm wiping off the big "WELCOME!" that's been printed on my forehead for so long, and replacing it with a shiny new "NO TRESPASSING" sign. Because I'm done being gentle.
Again, this is where I have to wonder, how did Judith determine it's up to me to be gentle? Why isn't she preaching this tactic to the other parent, the one who doesn't have the kids the majority of the time? It didn't feel so gentle to me when my ex-husband once again decided to pay an attorney rather than start paying child support. It doesn't feel gentle when not one, not two, but three of my kids tell me that they feel unwanted when they spend time at Dad's house. And it sure wasn't gentle I felt when one of my kids said this: "When I told Dad that I needed to get a project done and couldn't go over to his house tonight, he sounded relieved."
I want my kids to have two loving parents. And once upon a time, they did. But then things changed and I was thrust into the world of co-parenting. For a while, I did have a co-parent. He picked up the kids for his weekends and his school nights and his holidays. Once, he even took them for one of the two whole weeks per year that we are each allotted for vacation time. He played catch with them, talked to them, and showed up at concerts and games. Slowly, but surely, most of this stopped.
I was no longer co-parenting. Simply put, I was parenting. And doing the best that I could (and can). Judith, and many other co-parenting "experts" out there, espouse the benefits of exes working together, telling us how amazing it is for children to have two loving, involved parents.
Unfortunately, for a lot of kids...there's only one involved parent. And we're getting really tired of hearing how it's our job to light a fire under the one who isn't there.