Last week, I shared some of my experience in Part 1 of “Co-parenting During COVID-19”. I asked a few Moms if they would be willing to share how they have been able to manage co-parenting. Several moms shared with me their successes and their (perceived) failures, as well as creative measures they have used to keep things interesting for their children. Here are two of their stories.
Meet C. M.
“My life is fairly complicated – I live with my partner and our two daughters, which are both from our previous relationships. So Ada is my bio kid and Frida is his bio kid – so their schedules are different. Monday, Tuesday and Friday nights only one kid will be with us. While Wednesday and Saturday nights we have both but Thursday and Sunday nights we are kid free. On the nights the girls aren’t with us, they are with their other bio parent.
With school out of the picture – we had to figure out where the kids would go during the day. The night schedule has stayed the same, but we have had to make adjustments for the day time. I have found our schedule to be great for all parents and both kids. They get time together and see all their parents a lot, but the girls also have time alone with all parents.
This experience – since we have decided to close our circle and only see each other at this time, to limit possible infections – has really done a lot to drive us all together. We talk more, spend more leisure time together, and are more connected in lots of ways. It has done a lot of positive things for all of us and the girls. We have had to really balance the amount of time we spend together with the work of trying to connect with other people outside of our family group. While it is great to spend time together and with the girls all together – we have realized that we need to continue to nurture and stay connected with our own personal friends, as the stress and pressure of spending all of our time with each other can be a lot!!
We are having a hard time balancing parenting and teaching. The girls go to two different schools which are managing this situation completely differently. There are also different expectations from each parent about how much “school work” should be done, and we haven’t done a great job of communicating our needs, boundaries, and expectations around this. However, we have spent a LOT of time navigating emotional things with ourselves and the girls.
Once things return to “normal”, I assume that we will see this as a gift of time. We have been able to spend so much quality time with our kids and also with each other – growing and learning about each other and how to function as a family unit. I think we have done more work than we would have done in a normal year around these things. I think this situation fast forwarded things immensely.”
“Before COVID, we were pretty solid with our schedule. My bonus baby (step-son) spends the school year (minus weekends and holidays) with his mom out of town. We usually make it a family affair (our little one, my husband, and me) and pile into the car for a short road trip to meet half way to get Matt.
Since Spring Break, Matt has been here without going back to his mom. Spring Break led right into the “stay home, work safe” order and we’ve kept it going even though the “stay home” portion is lifted. It hasn’t been as tough as I thought it would be; he’s enjoying this time with his little brother and his fur siblings. Our boys stay up late and wake up late. We make time daily for reading and exploration. I am a morning person, so I actually get a full day of work accomplished before they’re up. Having both boys here has actually been a huge blessing. They teach each other and have been helping out around the house in a big way.
We have a great working/co-parenting relationship with Matt’s mom and we both often tell people that our oldest has 2 mommies. 🙂 I think we’ve (his mom and I) have actually become closer. She knows he is loved, well-fed, and that we are helping him with his online school work. I try to send pictures often so she can see how he’s spending his days – full of laughs, bike rides, walks, and wildlife encounters! Plus, Matt and his mom both have iPhones so FaceTime has been a huge blessing! They talk daily. We have also mailed notes and shipped her Mother’s Day gift to her.
Analyzing the pros/cons of this experience has been interesting. I might emotionally lose it once the boys are back to school and physically away from me. No matter how often I joke that they’re my annoying co-workers, I am truly grateful for this time with them and there’s no price you can place on this. I pray our “normal” looks much different than it did before: more time for family and time for exploring nature. Precious time.”
When you first have a baby, people warn you that there is no manual for how to raise kids. But there is no warning about the lack of manuals for divorce, co-parenting, or step-parenting. We are all out here trying to do the best we can with the knowledge, tools, and resources we have. There are no right or wrong answers. Bravery and courage lead the way every day for these moms, myself, and every parent out there. And as our nation continues to struggle with protecting and defending ourselves from viruses of all types, I pray that for just a moment, after reading this, you feel a little peace and comfort knowing that you aren’t alone in your parenting journey. We should all take it just one day at a time.
Stay tuned for two more Mom stories in Part 3, the final installation of Co-parenting During COVID-19. Special thank you to all of the Moms who volunteered to share their story with me.