Marriage is hard. Raising children is hard. Without love, it’s even harder.
This may seem like an obvious statement. However, many forget this and wonder why everything has to be such a big deal, why everything requires so much damn communication, and why it’s just so damn hard. It’s because you aren’t in love anymore. Concessions you used to give each other are no longer present, and flaws that used to be overlooked now bug the shit out of you.
What we need to be doing as parents, instead of lamenting how fucking hard it is, is to ask your child, “How can I improve your life?” “How can I make your world better?” I guarantee that the first thing out of their mouth will be to stop shit-talking one of the most important people in their lives. How awesome of an example would it be if you demonstrate to your children how to deal with and be kind to someone who may or may not deserve it? Moreover, someone that you simply don’t freaking like?
Additionally, even when it sucks, be better than you think you should have to be.
I know it’s hard, and I know you think they are the asshole. I’m sure when you tell your side, your friends and family agree. But guess what? They think you’re the asshole and when they tell their side, their family and friends agree with them. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed and say, “dammit, I’m tired of being the bigger person” (in many situations, not just with co-parenting). However, that’s just the exhaustion talking. No matter how tired I am (even when I want to throw the kind of temper tantrum that I would never allow my children to throw), it’s worth it to be better than think I should have to be, if for no other reason than to provide zero ammunition, and to be able to sleep at night.
Further…love your kids’ parent, even though you are not in love.
I know this is a stretch, but you don’t have to be romantically in love, to love another person. I’m not saying be best friends, because boundaries are important. Besides, when you start dating again, that could get weird. However, find something you do love about that person, no matter how small. If the only thing you can think of is that you love that they aren’t a war criminal, then run with it. I love that my ex plays with my kids. He runs around like a crazy person and is goofy. I love that he’s funny and can make me laugh when I’m ranting about some idiot teacher that has messed with my kid (that teacher should be scared). I love that he can roll with things when I screw up and I speak before I think, or I make a big deal out of something before I have all the information. I can love him as a fellow human being, and you can do the same for your ex. It’s important, because your children love this person.
You only have a limited amount of time and energy. Spend that energy on joy, not hate. Being angry takes so much out of you. Before you know it, the kids will be grown. Are you going to look back and see years of hatred and fighting, now useless because it simply didn’t matter that they let them stay up later than you’d like? Or, are you going to look back and see that you enjoyed your kids, and you made the best of a situation that you hoped never to be in? The choice is yours, but I sincerely hope, for your ankle biters, that you choose joy over hate.
Oh and wine…definitely choose wine. Like I said, life is short.