Reflections on 19 years of shared parenting, joint custody or whatever they call it now

I doubt you will ever meet a person who co-parents a child with a partner who they are no longer with, who doesn’t occasionally wonder either out loud or silently when will this end? Even when a couple parts ways on a good note, joint parenting is not for the faint of heart. Trust me, my ex-husband and I split up when our son was thirteen months old, and our son will turn 21 in less than two months. I am no expert on the issue of shared parenting, but I have been at this for a while.

I won’t lie, there were many years when I wondered, how much longer? Funny thing is that for all the articles written on co-parenting, I see very few that discuss life after a child turns 18. Funny thing is co-parenting never really ends because in most healthy situations, each parent still wants to share important moments with their kid.

This was brought home last night after a discussion with the college boy (aka my son for new readers) who is home on Thanksgiving break from school. Lest you think this is a bash the former Mister BGIM moment, it is far from that. My son who is in his 3rd year of college while managing his growing musical career at the same time is taking his first adult steps and moving off campus into a real apartment. Zoinks! As a result “our” standing time together at Christmas time will be truncated as he is moving into his place right before Christmas break and before he heads back out to Maine he is visiting his Dad who lives in the Midwest. A few years ago, this news would have sent me into a downward spiral, instead as I heard my son tell me how joint custody continues to impact him, I found myself in awe. In awe for every child that crosses the line into adulthood yet must continue navigating between parents who are no longer together and just how very tiring that must be at times.

I assured the college boy that whenever he returns back to my house it will be fine and that by all means, he should spend time with his father. The funny thing is I meant it; it wasn’t me putting on my game face. In recent years I have come to see my ex-husband as no longer “the ex” but as a part of my family, no matter what we are always connected through our son. We last saw each other at my son’s high school graduation and rather than holding two separate celebrations, we held one big bash put on by the ex and his wife where both of our families came together. I imagine we will both be there when he graduates from college and all the other major milestones that may happen in our son’s life.

Joint parenting, shared parenting or whatever you call it doesn’t end; it simply changes once your child hits 18. In our case many of the long standing tensions have disappeared in recent years and while we still share our son and our time with him, I like to think that our son has taught us how to be better at sharing. Love is not limited and there is more than enough to go around.

 

I am too proud to beg!

The decision to write a personal blog and share details of your personal life is an incredibly vulnerable experience and while it can bring many rewards it can also bring much criticism. In the past year, the criticism that I have heard from readers at times has left me incredibly raw and on the brink of saying the hell with it though I have continued on.

Lately my vulnerability has been on full display as I decided to enlist my readers to help me reach a goal, but tonight I am pulling the plug. Not so much because of the criticism but because frankly I am no one’s beggar and asking for assistance online frankly feels like panhandling.

In the 15 plus years that I have been in the non-profit sector, I have worked my way up from a grunt position that barely paid more than minimum wage to being an Executive Director and consultant. I did it by working hard, being true to myself and never wavering in my integrity. I never begged anyone to get where I am professionally and as much as I want to make some changes in my life, if it involves me begging, it’s not going to happen.

It’s become clear in the past couple of days especially as my son who when he is not being a college student or moonlighting as an up and coming artist, got a call about going on tour with one of his musical idols, that trying to go to BlogHer ’12 was probably going to be more trouble than it’s worth. Since my kiddo is pulling double duty working for me this summer and he needs some time off at the same time I would be in NYC. It wouldn’t be impossible but with me gone, it would stretch my already small crew.

As much as I want to go to this conference, what I want more is to grow as a writer and I suspect I don’t need this conference to make that happen. More like a cabin in the woods and time.

So to those who have supported me, I say thank you, to date approximately $160 total has been raised to send me to BlogHer’12. If anyone who donated wants a refund, please let me know otherwise I will use all funds to cover the costs of hosting this site and for upkeep and even a cup of coffee. I have put the tip jar back up, as always if you enjoy what you read here, feel free to tip your writer. I accept very little in the way of paid advertising, so tips keep me going since I put in a fair amount of hours into this blog on a weekly basis. I do it as a labor of love, but hey, I ain’t rich so cash is always good.

So sit back and continue to enjoy the musings of a Black Girl in Maine!

 

 

Twenty years of parenting

Twenty years ago today, when my peers were off enjoying their first year of college or finding themselves I was getting ready for one of the biggest jobs ever, bringing you into the world. Looking back now it doesn’t surprise me that you like to take your time, marinate on ideas and even stroll slowly. I have become a big believer that the way we enter this world drops clues about who we may eventually become…yeah, Momma is being woo-woo excuse me.

 

You signaled that you were ready to become earth side on a Friday night and arrived Monday night.  Rush, you did not.

The past 20 years have been a journey for not only you but me as well. I could not imagine that night twenty years ago, that you would be the young man that you are today, especially now looking at how rocky and unorthodox the journey has been. Four states, thirteen schools and two parents whose only point of agreement was our love for you, many would say how jarring but you thrived and continue to thrive despite the madness.

 

Recently when you were home I was struck by the fact that you are no longer a boy, or even a teenager, you are truly a young man. I know I bug you when I ask a million question and worry too much but despite the fact you are 6’4 and well-traveled, in my mind and eyes you are still my baby.

 

Happy Birthday Son!