One topic I haven’t covered a lot here on my blog is that of Child Custody. And there is good reason. For my ex and I, it has been messy, very messy so I have decided to keep things private.
Without giving too many gory details there has been continual conflict over everything. One day, I received 27 emails about a pair of socks I hadn’t returned. Yep, 27 emails! And I’m sorry, if you send me 27 emails because I haven’t returned a pair of socks you are going to have to wait another month for me to return the socks and they will be paired with other socks just to sh!t you off. And then there were the heartbreaking moments like birthdays missed out on and being at our sons basketball game – my ex at one end of the court, me at the other and the look on our sons face trying to choose who to sit with.
Somewhere in the past 2 and a bit years of constant conflict I remember venting to a friend and her saying “it will get better, you just have to give it time”. I couldn’t see it at the time. When it comes to parenting my ex and I just aren’t on different pages, we’re in different books, in different libraries, in different countries on the opposite side of the world. Parenting was an issue while we were married because we both had two completely different views. So the thought that one day we could co-parent and spend time together with the children seemed impossible.
The turning point for me was 30 May 2018 – our 3rd sons 4th birthday which was celebrated with dinner at Macca’s. But because his father and I didn’t get along I sat in the car while the boys ate with their father. On the drive to Macca’s the kids were asking “Mum, are you going to come in?” to which I just answered “No, Mum’s got some work to do so I’ll do it while you eat dinner with Dad”. While they were all eating I could see them in the rear view mirror. No one looked happy – I wasn’t happy. I just sat there thinking how I wished things could be different. Why shouldn’t the kids get to celebrate their birthdays with both Mum and Dad and why should one of us always miss out.
For the next few weeks it played on my mind. I had forgiven my ex for everything that had gone on in our marriage. He has re-partnered, so clearly has dealt with everything and moved on. Yet, here we were with this non existent relationship and even when we did speak (which was only via email) it was cold. Why did it have to be like this?
Not long after, we had just negotiated (through lawyers) and signed off on a new parenting plan. It was also one of the other boys birthdays. I can’t remember the circumstances around it but we both ended up eating dinner together that night. Still, the tension and stress of an extreme broken relationship was evident. He got up to get some food, at the same time I was about to get up so I sat down and said to our eldest son “I’ll just wait for Dad to get back” and his reply was “aaah, you don’t want to be near Dad at the buffet” I was shocked. I was staying at the table so the 4 kids weren’t unsupervised but to our kids they thought we hated each other so much we couldn’t stand together at the same buffet. It was the wake up call I needed.
A few days later I bit the bullet and started talking with him. I said that with the signing of the new parenting plan we should use that as a point in time to put all of the bullshit and crap behind us and start from scratch. We are in each others lives for a very long time, whether we like it or not, so why not at least try and make it a little bit pleasant, find some common ground and at least be civil around the children.
That was about 6 weeks ago.
Today, we spent half the day together at an event for one of the kids. We had some downtime during the event where we even played a family game of chasey/tag. We all laughed and had a good time. The kids loved it and tonight commented on how good it is to spend time with Dad and Mum and have everyone happy.
Look, things aren’t perfect, I doubt they ever will be. There have been many times in that 6 weeks, I’ve had to bite my tongue and times I’ve spoken up but the difference is now we are very quick to turn it around, agreeing to change or agree to disagree and get back to focusing on the kids without them even realising trouble was brewing.
And if anyone questions why I do it, I think back to that night in the Macca’s carpark where I spent my sons 4th birthday, I think back to the day I received 27 emails about a pair of socks and to the look on my child’s face at basketball and sigh and say, I do it all for the kids.
Kirsty is the founder of That Noise Is Mine.
An established blogger, writer and business owner raising 4 children independently. Kirsty is determined to succeed in this new life forced upon her.