“At daddy’s house he gives me candy after I go potty like a big boy.”
Really. Let me verify that one. After a quick call to daddy, I find out that is not necessarily the case. Just one of many examples of the trials and tribulations of co-parenting.
“At mommy’s house, I get to sleep in bed with mommy.”
Well, maybe there is a little truth to that one.
Parenting is a tough enough job, throw in trying to keep a united front in two separate households…well, that’s enough to try the patience of Job (and believe me, patience is not a virtue of mine).
It’s funny how quickly the rules can change. I am fortunate enough to have an amicable relationship with my ex-husband (still weird to use that term, do people ever get used to that?), but things we agreed upon in the past under one roof don’t necessarily translate into two.
Take the sleeping thing for instance. Never in my wildest dreams would I have considered letting my son sleep in the same bed with me. Pre-divorce that is. But I have also learned to never say never. When my son and I moved into a new place, the transition was not necessarily an easy one. Our nighttime routine was shot, and I wanted to provide him with as much security as I could. So one night led into two and well, you get the picture. However, things weren’t going that way at daddy’s house, so began the adventure in co-parenting.
And even simple things, like getting your child ready for school, became a much more arduous task. What clothes do I send him in? Is his jacket at my house or daddy’s? Will I ever see his new shirt again? Did daddy take the baseball stuff to school or is it my turn? For my normally disorganized brain, just getting my kids dressed for the day can throw me over the edge.
And then you factor in blending. Now that gets confusing real fast. Not only are you trying to keep things consistent in two households, but factoring in a new relationship with new kids equals a whole new set of rules. And when your son is the rule police, it gets pretty entertaining.
“We don’t say BUTT. We say hiney or bottom,” is a favorite rule of my son. Actually, it is also a favorite rule of mine, as I detest the word butt, especially when it comes from the mouth of my children. However, this rule has translated into words such as “gosh” or “holy cow,” or pretty much any type of exclamation. And he has no problem ordering other kids (aka my husband’s) around (even though they are two and five years older than my son).
Here comes the ripple effect. From my husband’s ex-wife, who has no problem saying “Oh My Gosh,” and now is being told by her children that she is not allowed to say it. Oops. See where this can get a little convoluted?
I’m not sure this will get easier as it goes (oh come on, who am I kidding? It is going to get MUCH more difficult); but showing our son unconditional love will no doubt help us tread through the muddy waters of divorce. Signing up for a class or two would probably not be a bad idea either.
And I’m going to have to come up with a whole new list of explicitives.
Marnie Fernandez is an official kid wrangler of four and a professional laundress. When not chasing kids she runs her PR company, SixPR. She also writes and blogs about her misadventures in mommyhood in a blended family of six.