Co-parenting During COVID-19
Part 3: The Final Installment
For a few weeks, I have shared both my experience in Part 1 and the experiences of two Moms in Part 2 of “Co-parenting During COVID-19”. There are two more stories that I wanted to share with you here in the final installment of this three-part seres. Again, I can’t thank these Moms enough for their honesty, transparency and willingness to share with me (and all of you) a glimpse into their lives. Here are their stories.
“Prior to COVID-19, our co-parenting schedule was every other Friday. My ex is a truck driver so his time with Kate was limited to the weekends in between runs. She would go for just Friday night and come back on Saturday afternoon or evening because she would attend church with me. We didn’t have to stick to that depending on if we had family stuff going on or a friend’s birthday party. We would just come to an agreement and say we’re going to miss this weekend or double up or catch up throughout the week. It is working well.
We are always considering Kate’s underlying health condition with every decision we make. Thankfully, he’s not really big on having people in his house besides his kids. (While she goes every other Friday, his other kids come every Friday.) Since the virus outbreak, we had conversations about who she will be around, that she is not able to go to stores, etc. I think across the board, the other moms feel the same way. We just all have an understanding.
I can say that communication has definitely increased during this time. He calls almost every day, and maybe two or three times during the week when he’s on the road for work. Sometimes he’ll call me ahead of time and say, ‘Hey, I’m coming that way, and I’m running to the store, do you have a list’. That’s helpful for me because trying to find a sitter or drop Kate off at my mom’s house or his mom’s house can be tough. He’s also taken her to the pond, the waterfall or just to blow bubbles and, you know, that gives me a break. It gives me a breather, allows me to cook dinner real fast, like a 30-minute meal. That’s helpful.
Our relationship is still consistent with how we’ve been. We came up with an agreement a while back, that we just didn’t want to fight or argue anymore about things that just didn’t matter. Our focus is just to be the best parents to Kate. Everybody is different on how they manage it (co-parenting), but I think we are doing okay for her. I’m grateful for the fact that I have the support from him because it’s hard to have an only child at home. She doesn’t have a sibling to play with. And these are the times that you’re like, dang, I wish you had somebody. And it’s also why I think she gets excited to see her siblings. She needs that release because I guess it helps her.
Once things go back to “normal”, I would like our schedules to still stick to the routine of what we’ve been doing and just continue to keep communication open about decisions that we’re making. We can make some adjustments as this world starts to open back up, and make sure that we are on the same page about how we’re going to deal with it. I think we’re going to be going through this (COVID) for a while, and I think mentally is starting to become draining on everybody at this point. We didn’t expect to be on “lockdown” this long, so we weren’t prepared for the long haul. We weren’t prepared to deal with this at all.
Looking back on this time, I wish I was able to be more prepared and give more assistance to Kate on the educational side. And that’s one part that we as parents have not talked about. I was thinking maybe I should send some worksheets to his house. I’m not being as successful as I thought I would be with this whole homeschooling thing. It’s not that I can’t teach her, but add in being a mom, all over the place for work, and then have to stop to help her. Then before you know it, it’s noon (lunchtime) and then we have recess, and the day’s almost done. It’s a lot some days.”
“My ex-husband and I decided to do one week on one week off with one overnight stay with the other parent. So for example, my week right now is Friday this week to Friday of next week, and then one overnight stay with the other parent so that way, neither one of us is going a whole week without seeing our son. So basically, we’re rotating weeks, but one night during that week, he goes with the other parents. Then my fiance Charles has a different visitation schedule with his son. He has him every first, third, and fifth weekend. Typically, he also takes him to dinner once a week, but now that’s changed since everything’s kind of closed. Basically our house is like a revolving circle, or it’s a circus. LOL. It’s always been a revolving door.
Now that everything has been closed, my schedule has stayed the same, but Charles is different, and it really hasn’t been consistent. It kind of depends on when him and his ex wife decide she needs a break, and so it’s just very inconsistent. We try to keep both boys on at least the same weekend schedule, but that doesn’t always work.
We do FaceTime, and we just try to respect the other parents’ time. My son Joey is more familiar with it than Henry. He’s a little bit more adjusted, so he can go longer periods of time without having to do a FaceTime. But if we need to, I can just head over to his dad’s house because we live so close. With my ex-husband, gratefully we’ve matured a lot through the years and after the divorce. Now, we’re at the point where we can just be really honest with each other. We don’t talk a whole lot about our personal lives, but if we have family plans, he’s super flexible, and I’m really flexible with him as well. Our communication is pretty open.
Because I’m in a really fast paced environment with work (six and some times seven days a week), and right now his dad’s work situation is different since he’s actually been somewhat furloughed. In the beginning, when we started homeschooling towards the end of March, Joey’s dad was very gracious to say, ‘Hey, I know you’re working a lot. I know you need to be available for your clients. So I’ll go ahead and homeschool Joey.’ And for a while, it was good. I would drop him off in the morning to go homeschool with his dad, and then I would pick him up, or they would walk over around 6:30pm for dinnertime.
Well, Joey’s a very emotional kid and is getting really attached to his dad. So now when his dad’s either dropping off or I’m picking him up, he’s like, Daddy, I’m going to miss you and just starts really tearing up. Because they’re spending so much time together, I think he’s kind of leaning more towards his dad now. And as his mom, it’s hurtful, you know. I’ve had to have really honest hard conversations with him. I want to make sure that he doesn’t ever feel like he has to pick a parent, which sometimes I think he’s felt that way.
But a big part of it is his dad is “the cool parent” – the one that does all the fun boy stuff just because he wants to do that all the time. In their neighborhood, they really didn’t do social distancing, so he gets to see his friends and play Nerf War. But when he’s with me, I’m like, no, we’re not going to go see the neighbors, we’re going to social distance while you’re here at the house. We’re going to do the right thing: stay home and be safe. Being fully transparent is a constant struggle because [it appears that] he prefers his dad’s house versus mine, and it’s really hurtful which is something that is behind the scenes or behind the fakeness, I should say, of social media. That’s one of the things that I’m struggling with as a co-parent.
Thinking back, we never thought we were going to be in this situation (COVID). Like we never thought it was going to get this serious. I wish we would have laid more ground rules at the beginning like we’re both going to do social distancing. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that. So we can’t really go back and take away this freedom that has been given to our son. Because then again, I look like the bad parent, and that’s a hard place to be.
I felt mom guilt up until now because well, that’s my child, and I should be the one doing the homeschooling, right? I should be the one that’s also suffering along with other moms that are doing the work and the homeschooling and taking care of the family. But the difference is I don’t have a consistent paycheck. So I have to focus on working, so I can pay the bills.
We’re supposed to go back to the schools like the physical location as of August. But if we have to continue homeschooling, my expectation is going to be timed. It’s going to have to split the work with him and just, you know, just kind of suck it up and do it and then figure out how to juggle my work just like every other working mom.”
Ironically, conversations about COVID have now taken a backseat to the issues of race, racism, diversity and equality in this country. Now there are protests, petitions, fundraisers… Life comes at you fast! Check out the Resources & References page for a few links to help you talk to your children about these issues.