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.