Suck it Up: Uncomfortable Coparenting

There are things we buy knowing they are going to be uncomfortable but we do it because they serve a greater purpose. For example Spanx, heels and kale. And then there are things we buy knowing they will be uncomfortable but do it out of necessity. For example Spanx, heels and kale. We get divorced knowing it will be hard but also knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel. But what we fail to account for is comfort.

Divorce is literally the thong of life. Some look better than others and some cost more than others but at the end of the day, none of them are there for comfort and all of them are literally a pain in the butt. I’ve had people ask me what to do about school and life events because they’re not comfortable being with their ex in the same room. They can’t look at him, let alone be in the same room together and pretend that all is fine. Many people aren’t going to like what I have to say but here it is. Suck it up.

Divorce has nothing to do with being comfortable. You’re not comfortable hosting an event with your ex? You think your kids are comfortable with being the only divorced kid in their class? Comfortable showing up to holiday meals with only one parent when everyone else has two? Comfortable having to pack up once a week, alternate weekends and holidays on odd numbered years? The answer is a resounding no. But the difference is that our kids don’t get choose their discomfort. We have placed it upon them because we know the short term discomfort exceeds the long term benefit of happy individual parents. The same way we do that for our children, we must do it for ourselves.

Hosting your child’s 3rd birthday or Bar Mitzvah or Sweet 16 and dreading doing it beside your ex, with a smile pasted on your face. I get it. You don’t want to lie and tell the world that you and your ex are ok, that you amicably co parent even though she’s alienating you from the kids and he’s withholding child support. You cannot conceive of being in the same room with your ex and their family after everything they have done to you, all the horrible things they have said about you.

But you know what? Some things are bigger than us. Smiling at the event doesn’t show the world that you and your ex are good people and everything is ok. It shows the world that you love your children more than you hate each other. It shows your children and the world that there are things bigger than ourselves, that sacrifice isn’t always comfortable. In fact more often than not, it’s horribly uncomfortable and anxiety inducing and takes one to two Ativans to make it through.

Think of those moments that make us feel good post divorce, a singles event where you actually meet someone, a run in with someone in the grocery store who tells you how great you’re doing, or a simple thank you from one of your kids. Our kids deserve those moments too, those moments where they can look at their life and say it’ll all be ok. A family event, a parent teacher interview, a school play where both parents can be there. It’s those moments of clarity where our kids know that life will be ok despite everything else. This is a gift to our children. This is a gift only we can give them.

All of us are at different stages in our divorce, some newbies and others of us vets. And everything that you’ve just read may seem impossible right now and may seem unattainable. But that’s your decision. A few years ago if you were asked if you could survive divorce and thrive in the aftermath, would you have immediately said yes? Likely not. Just like any other day, pull up that thong, paste a smile on your face and if you have to, fake it till you make it. The comfort you take is the knowledge that at the end of the day, you can take off that thong that is divorce and your ex, and leave in on the floor and start fresh again tomorrow.

Disclaimer* The exception to this is the presence and/or threat of physical and/or emotional abuse. Your safety and the safety of your children always come first.

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