For the past few weeks, I have been working on improving the co-parenting relationship with Sami’s dad, and I think my efforts might be bearing fruit. Sami is our joint venture, and we might as well approach his care and upbringing from a spirit of cooperation and relative friendliness. It’s been easier said than done. I’ve written about the rage I’ve felt towards my ex in recent posts, and I’m not unaware that there are still a lot of unhealed hurts around our relationship that filter into the present.
It took some humility on my part to apologize for some less-than-stellar communications that I initiated while PMSing. Not the best time to be communicating my frustrations. Note to self: refrain from sending any emotional emails or texts during that window of time. If something must be sent, I should vet it through a friend first before shooting anything off to my ex.
As a result of me backing off, he has come around to seeing that he needs to be more involved on a day-to-day basis, and for the first time ever, has started to call Sami every day. Sami’s perception of what phone calls entail is quite hilarious. He assumes that his dad can see what is going on in his world as they talk (and they are not Skyping or using a webcam). He will say things like “close your eyes, Daddy. Now open them” and try to “show” him things over the phone. He also ends conversations on very abrupt and funny notes, like tonight: “Mama has to take me to the bathroom. I need to go poop. I love you! Goodbye!”
His father and I have also decided to have more regular check-ins about what is going on in Sami’s life. It hasn’t been easy to open up and tell the truth to one another. For example, I had no idea that Sami cries and has tantrums every time it is time to come back to my house after visits with his dad. (He usually drops him off asleep, and when he wakes up he seems perfectly happy to be with mama, so I had no clue.) It makes sense, since transitions are tough for him in general, and having to say goodbye to his dad whom he adores has got to be tough. It was painful for me to learn this fact, but in the spirit of better communication, it is a positive thing.
My ex also confided in me that the reason he does not see Sami more often (or consistently) is because he is now working two jobs to make ends meet. He assured me that he was not bringing this up to gripe about child support, and the fact is that he has never missed a child support payment. While it is his responsibility, I’m well aware of how many dads shirk that responsibility, and so I appreciate that very much. While I do wish that Sami could have more time with his dad, it definitely made me feel better to know that work is the reason, rather than disinterest or apathy or being more interested in his new family, as I imagined. I was touched that he would confide this part of his life to me, and I have been able to feel more compassion towards him.
The other amazing development is that about a month ago I had asked him to take Sami for a one day conference I am to go to next month for work. He initially said no, but just wrote me the other day that his business trip was cancelled and he could take Sami while I attended the conference. I asked him if he wished to have Sami for that entire Friday evening - Tuesday morning stretch and he emailed back that he would, citing that I could have “some time for myself.” I was beyond bowled over at that, as he has not once acknowledged my needs since the divorce. These are all good signs.
As a gesture of further goodwill, I’ve MMSed him a few cute pictures of Sami doing Sami things, and he was very thankful for that. We’ve had some friendly banter by text over the last few days and it is honestly the first exchanges anywhere near friendly that we have had since he came back into Sami’s life 10 months ago.
While I don’t have illusions that our co-parenting relationship will be tension-free for the next 14 years, I do want to do whatever I can to nurture this good energy that is between us. While a few weeks ago I couldn’t think of him without rage churning through my every cell, now I feel some goodwill flowing. It’s amazing, and I do think a lot of it has to do with the actions I have taken to change things on my end. It takes two people to be tense and sarcastic and angry and hostile towards another, and I have altered my side of the equation. Perhaps he could have chosen not to accept the olive branch I extended, and he could have continued his hostilities and lack of communication regardless. He could have solidified his stance. But he is not a bad person, and I know that, no matter how much I have tried to demonize him out of my own hurt and pain. And while I personally am feeling so much better, Sami is the one who truly benefits from this cessation of hostilities.
It all feels like good karma, a new leaf. Fitting as the fall colors explode all around, reminding me of the fleeting brilliance of this life.
Welcome to this blog - my chronicle of the illuminating, character-building path of single parenthood. I'm making this up as I go along. My life is my practice, and my five year-old son is my greatest teacher.