As his former spouse, I know that deep down in there somewhere is a man who wants to do well in the world. Someone who wants to be reconnected to his son, who yearns to prove to the world that he's capable. But as a mom, I put up giant barriers and protectors.
Sitting in court my heart pounds. It feels as though there's blood ringing in my ears and it is getting harder to breathe the longer I wait.
Waiting is the worst part.
It used to be waiting for my ex to come home drunk, praying the angels were watching over him and everyone on the road around him. It used to be waiting for an answer in court as we sorted through the another OUI (operating under the influence) charge and arrest for driving without a license. Waiting for recovery, waiting for a shift, waiting for our official divorce, waiting for child support, waiting for the ball to drop.
Always, always waiting.
Today, I am waiting for a final judgment that never comes because my son's father doesn't show. I am told (again) it isn't fair that he isn't in court due to his incarceration. So I'm stuck waiting...
The title of this article implies that my son's father is a co-parent, but that isn't entirely true. He's supposed to be, but honestly, my son hasn't seen his father in almost a year. And he's only 3 years old.
The day-to-day life of potty training, doctor's appointments, playing, safety, education and love falls on me. I love my life with my little man and I wouldn't change a thing. To be able to raise him on my own (with help from everyone in our village), is the most satisfying thing in the world. I have moments when I make mistakes and many more moments when I know I'm on the exact right path.
Just last week he told me his stuffed puppy Biscuit said the word 'stupid-head' (thanks to Lilo & Stitch—oops!). At that moment, I had a number of choices. I decided to tell him the puppy needed a time-out. He placed Biscuit in the time out chair and proceeded to do EVERYTHING I do.
He told him that 'stupid head' was a naughty word and we only use kind words in our home. He told him he needed to say sorry and began to walk away. As he did, he said "Did you say you were sorry? It's okay, I love you so much." He let Biscuit out of time out and went about his morning.
I thought to myself: "I did that." That exact moment of modeling firm, yet loving behavior was an example of the work I've been doing for years.
It's one of the moments I'll hold onto when he's having a meltdown or in a rare moment when he asks if his daddy is going to come home and play with him.
Co-parenting with an addict is one of the most gut-wrenching things you can do. As his former spouse, I know that deep down in there somewhere is a man who wants to do well in the world. Someone who wants to be reconnected to his son, who yearns to prove to the world that he's capable. But as a mom, I put up giant barriers and protectors. I beg the court system to keep us as safe as they're legally able to, and I wait.
I am always waiting.
Many divorced couples use the term single parent and wear it bravely. While it may be true that they are single and a parent, they are often accompanied by a co-parent who is healthy enough to participate in their child's life. I use single and solo-mother interchangeably. Solo, to me, truly embraces where I am on this journey. I do a lot alone—the Biscuit time-out moments, the holiday planning, the threenager attitude navigation.
I always hope in the future my son will see his dad make it into recovery. Deep down I want them to eventually have a connection. Today I can't envision that future, but as with any aspect of having an addict in your life, the vision may change tomorrow or next week or five years from now.
Tonight, I'll go home to snuggle with my kiddo in our bedroom. I'll subconsciously wait for a ball to drop and hold my heart together as best I'm able to when the tears stream down my cheeks.
My supposed co-parent misses these moments. It's heartbreaking and yet also affords me the opportunity to never miss a single one.