Co-Parenting: I Never Thought

I never thought that it mattered to Munch that his dad and I weren’t together. He had turned 5 and we waited until he graduated from day care and had his birthday party. We didn’t want his 5th birthday to be scarred in any way. However, looking back on it…he probably was scarred in spite of our best intentions.

Munch’s life has always been a life where he’s experienced being an only child with two parents that love him tremendously. When we explained that we were divorcing and that he would live in two homes with two rooms, he said “But, you two are my parents.” We explained that we would always be his parents and that we love him more than life itself.

We probably should have put him in therapy. We probably should have gone to family counseling. We probably shouldn’t have done a lot of things. But, we did. None of which Munch had a choice in.

Life has a way of getting you to reflect on your choices when you’re divorced and try to co-parent. That moment came for me a few weeks ago. Munch was crying after a conversation with his dad. I asked him to come here and sit down and talk. He did. We talked. My heart broke.

My son felt like he was in the middle of his parent’s mess. Truthfully, he was. He sat with me and talked to me openly and honestly about what he was feeling. My little man child was expressing how he felt about everything. I just listened. I cried.

I asked him “Munch, what is it that you want?” We spend so much time telling Munch what he has to do that we probably don’t ask him how he feels about things. Forgetting that he’s the one that has to adapt to it. Do you know what my little boy said? He looked at me with tears falling down his face and said “I want you and Daddy to get back together.” 

This hit me like a ton of bricks. What? Why? I had so many questions. I couldn’t bombard this little boy. I asked him “Why?” He said “Because I’m the only kid in after care with divorced parents.” I explained that he’s probably not and some kids may have parents that never married. But, I had to go deeper.

I explained to him that I knew that he felt caught in the middle and I apologized for my part in it. I told him that his dad and I hadn’t been together in over four years and that we love him immensely. I explained that I know that he didn’t ask for any of this and he’s having to adjust to our choices.

We prayed. I kissed his tears. I held my son until he wanted to get up and go play.

His words stuck with me. In my mind and in my spirit. So much of what you do when you divorce and try to rebuild your life after the divorce affects your kids but do you ever stop to think how they’re coping? Probably not. There are a lot of things that Munch had no control over: his parents divorcing, his shared custody arrangement, his dad’s significant other, his dad getting engaged, his dad sharing spaces with someone else outside of him, me moving, his schools changing, me sharing my space with my mom, my dating Mr. C. and probably a whole heck of a lot more things. He’s had significant change.

We adults made the decision to move forward with our lives and he had no choice. We didn’t stop to think how our choices are affecting him not just in a once in a while conversation, but on a consistent basis. We didn’t stop to ask him what things he needs from us to make sure the transitions are working well for him. We just lived our lives believing that our choices were best for Munch.

Are they? I’m going to say in many ways yes. We are good at mapping out our lives and adulting, but we’re not good at co-parenting. We are good at telling him this is going to happen, but not at giving him a vote on our choices. We may not have a choice in what we do, but be cognizant of the fact that he’ll be the one to suffer the consequences.

Our married life is over. Whatever messes we created we have to remember that the most beautiful thing in all of this was Munch. He is our lifeline no matter how much fire I have to walk through I have to keep telling myself this. No greater joy than motherhood. Than what God has granted.

Next stop is to get Munch paired up with a therapist. Let him talk about what is affecting him. Let him sort through the mess we adults created with a professional. Get the tools and techniques on helping him adjust and be the best kid ever. We don’t have all the answers, but we can start by making the right choices to help Munch.

 

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Munch Moments – 7.14

Munch has been with me this week and it has been so wonderful. I miss the scent and sound of my son when he’s away from me. Lots of hugs and lots of kisses and discipline too because my man child has gotten a little grown. He is talking back.

I will tell him something and then he’ll respond with a comment on what I’ve said. I had to tell him politely “Munch, not everything requires a response.” He still didn’t get it. He did it again. I responded “Baby, when mommy tells you to do something, your only response needs to be yes ma’m. No other comment is needed.”

Whew! It’s hard work being a parent. We try to lead by example and correct negative behaviors, but that sassy mouth has me wanting to apologize to my mother about my behavior when I was a child. I get it now God!

This week we had a ball at the church picnic, swimming and eating with some friends, attending the circus and of course doctor’s appointments were in the mix. First, the picnic at my church is an annual thing and we always have a good time chatting with the members, eating the good food and the kids have a ball dancing. Munch didn’t leave the moon bounce. AT ALL. I had to go and get him because he didn’t eat and it was time to go.

Sunday was a relaxing day by the pool. My girlfriend has a pool in her development and Munch got to swim and eat pool side. He loves that part. We order pizza and we can eat and relax and get back in the pool. Never missing a beat. He wanted to go on the slides, but he needed to pass the swim test first. I asked him did he want to do it. He agreed and of course passed. My baby can swim.

He’s been climbing in the bed with me more often. About 3 or 4 am he will awake and ask to get in the bed with me. I agree. I don’t ever want my son to not feel welcome in my bed. You may be asking “What happens when you marry Mr. C?” Munch will still be welcome or I’ll climb in the bed with him to soothe away any fears he’s having. LOL. Mr. C knows.

Munch had a dentist and doctor’s appointment earlier this week. We were in and out of the dentist office in no time and off to the doctor’s for his annual check-up. He’s in great health and doing just fine. But, it was weird this year at his annual check-up. The pediatrician had to check his genitals and Munch was laying down crying hard. I asked held his hands and asked him “What’s wrong?” He was crying and said “Mommy, I feel so embarrassed.” My heart hurt. My son is now embarrassed by being naked. The doctor was done in less than one minute and I told him that he doesn’t have to be embarrassed. I explained to him that the doctor is only allowed to view his penis with mommy or daddy present. Your body is a gift from God so you should never be embarrassed. But, it hurt me that my baby was embarrassed.

Finally, my week ended with us going to the circus last night. This is the Universoul Circus. Munch loves it. They play hip-hop, have cool clowns and great acts. It is becoming our annual date night to the circus. I have to pay for tickets, face painting, food and a toy. However, the look on his face as he tells me “This is the best day ever” is so priceless.

That’s my Munch update. He is going back to his dad today and I will miss the little one. Tomorrow I’m attending an event in the morning that I’ll blog about next week and my girlfriend’s birthday dinner. Have an amazing Friday and know that you are loved and appreciated!

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Five Years Later

This popped up on Facebook today:

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It was a picture of a luau. Five years ago my ex and I were celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary in Hawaii. Munch was four years old.

We spent nine beautiful days in Hawaii. This was the first of two luaus that we would attend on a beautiful island. Hawaii was perfect. We needed that trip. It was designed to give us time to reflect and strengthen our marriage knowing that we made it this far.

But, it was a short trip down memory lane. Seven months after our Hawaii trip, I was asking for a divorce. I was exhausted. I couldn’t do it anymore. There were many reasons why, but ultimately I wanted each of us to find happiness because we were making each other miserable.

Five years later we’ve both found happiness. At least I believe we have. But, there are still things that aren’t working. Mainly our ability to co-parent.  I have many wishes or as my friends say expectations of how I want things to work. However, I’m an eternal optimist and I like the word “wish”. It brings sincere hope for something better. So, here are my three wishes five years later:

3 Wishes – 5 Years Later

  1. I wish that we would talk to each other about our son. I mean truly talk. Not forceful or accusatory conversation but a conversation designed to help lead our child down the right path. Really listening and respecting the other person’s point of view.
  2. I wish that we could co-parent Munch. You see many people tell you how you should co-parent, but don’t tell you the tools required to do so. The judge believes we can, others pray for it.  But, we’re not co-parenting. Until we can respect each other it will always be a wish. We begin to parallel parent. That kind of parenting hurts Munch.
  3. I wish that we could remember that Munch is watching us. Munch will never forget how we act towards each other and it will sit with him forever. He is watching and observing our behavior and he will craft his own perception of how things are and were during his younger years.

I’m not perfect. I’m an alpha female. I’ve always been that way. I won’t change. I don’t expect you to change. But, we’ve got to do better. I know that you want the best for Munch. I want the best for Munch, but the more that we continue to have painful conversations, lengthy emails or text messages that don’t have anything to do with Munch. The more time is wasted on bulls*it rather than focusing on Munch.

We have to proceed in these next few years as a unit committed to loving and raising our son. It’s five years later. Time has passed quickly and pretty soon Munch will be leaving our home and going to college where he will be responsible for creating his own destiny. What lessons would Munch have learned from us?

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

I Finished

I finally caught up with the 2,000 blog posts that were in my email. Some of you new followers may not understand, but I usually send your posts to my email because I am not always good with checking on my reader. I’m getting better. Well, I took a hiatus from reading posts the last week and had to catch up.

It’s been good. Thank you for sharing your world, your photos and your wisdom. I always feel like I’ve learned things. I may be slow to reading your posts, but bear with me. This was the first week of summer camp and my new summer schedule.

Munch has been with me this week and it has been absolutely wonderful. He loves his new camp. I was worried and surprised, but when my mom picked him up the first day he said it was awesome. He doesn’t use that word often. In fact I can probably count on one hand how many times he’s said that in the last year. He uses that word sparingly.

My days are long and my nights are short and I feel like I am in a perpetual state of existing. Thankfully, my schedule returns to normal beginning tomorrow until the 12th of July. But, I don’t complain. Motherhood means that you have to make sacrifices and do the things that matter even when you don’t feel like it.

I am loving on my Munch and making plans for beach days, fairs and time spent with family. Oh and before I leave I want to share this picture of this bracelet he made me at camp. He rushed to give it to me when I came home Tuesday night. He asked “Will you wear it Mommy?” It’s tight as hell on my arm. LOL, but I will always wear what he makes.

You know why? Because my word for 2017 is gratitude. I’m grateful for it all. The good, the bad and everything in between.

 

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the men out there who are making an impact in their children’s lives. Whether you are a first time dad, a father figure or you’ve been a dad for many years know that you matter. It is important that a child has a father in their life and today we honor you.

It may seem that you don’t get the recognition you deserve, but trust that is not the case. You are and will always be an irreplaceable piece in your child’s life. Never forget it. You matter. You are loved. You’re appreciated for all you do. Even when you think no one else is watching.

To my love who raised his son by himself and is getting ready to send him to college, I salute you. I know that it wasn’t easy being a single parent or a single dad, but your unwavering determination to raise your son into the man you know he will be comforts my soul. He is an absolutely beautiful young man and you deserve the accolades for doing a wonderful job. The way that you love and raise your son makes me honored to know that you would do the same for mine. Happy Father’s Day babe.

To my son’s father…I know that we are like oil and water, but I never doubt your role in our son’s life. Munch is a constant reminder of God’s unwavering love of us when he blessed us with him. Continue to love him and support him without pause and know that you matter to him. You are and will always be his dad. I am thankful for that. You are to be honored and celebrated today.

Happy Father’s Day Everyone!

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

A Shoe Tying Miracle

When Munch was about 6, I instructed his dad to teach him how to tie his shoes. I told him that I would take over the task of teaching him how to read. I couldn’t do both. I was working full-time and a single mom. I had accepted that we were living in two separate homes and we needed to divide and conquer things when it comes to parenting.

Well, Munch never really learned how to tie his shoes. Thankfully he knows how to read. When I asked him why he can’t tie his shoes when his dad said he could, he said “I can’t Mommy, it’s too hard. It never stays tied.” I sighed. I couldn’t believe that my son couldn’t tie his shoes and actually preferred velcro shoes.

Alas was life. I struggled to show him how to tie his shoes. He just wasn’t getting it. It was frustrating. I gave up. I watched him literally destroy brand new tennis shoes because he couldn’t tie his laces and he would walk around stepping on them all day.  Many people tried to help including the summer camp counselor last year. Munch just couldn’t get it.

A friend of mine recommended this book Red Lace, Yellow Lace and told me that it is a God send because he needed it with his son. He said “I couldn’t teach him to tie his shoe to save his life and when I bought this book, he got it.” “Umm, yeah” I said. I had tried everything so I felt that it was hopeless, but the book was cheap so I thought it wouldn’t be a bad investment. I had a niece and nephew who were 4 and 3 who would be learning soon.

I bought the book last week while Munch was with his dad. I’m happy to say that it worked. I love this book. Munch read it and practiced on the laces on the book and then with his own shoes all that night.

Guess what? He’s been tying them right ever since. In one freaking day.  I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get the book. The best part was when Munch said “Mommy, since I read the book, I don’t have any problems tying my shoes. They stay tied all day.” I smiled.

It was a good week. My work is done. He can tie his shoes and he can read. Better late than never.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Oldest Child Problems

A couple of weeks ago I read this great article over at Bougie Black Girl (BBG) about how parents use their older children to watch their younger siblings, much to the expense of the older child. I’m not speaking about an occasional babysitting job, but a child having to cook and clean and take care of her siblings like she birthed the babies. This article hit home for me.

See, because I was one of the girls that she was talking about. It happens a lot in the African American community. We tend to make our older girls the caregivers for their younger siblings. They didn’t give birth to your children.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that my mother was a bad mom. She wasn’t. Do I agree with everything she did? Nope. Do I believe she tried her best with the information and skills that she had at that time. Yep. But, there was damage.

You see when my daddy walked out of our lives, I was the oldest. I was 9 years old and my sister was 6. My brother was just 9 months old.  I had to become an “adult” and parent my siblings because my mother was in the military and worked swing shift. That means she was on for 18 hours and then off and back at work. She was exhausted.

I would have to pick my sister up from her classroom (we went to the same school) and walk her to pick up my brother from the babysitter to then go home. My mother left instructions for how to heat up dinner (she was exhausted but thankfully she still managed to cook). I would help my sister with her homework and we would eat dinner. I would bathe them both and put them to bed.

I would then sit down and do my homework, take a bath and head to bed. It was exhausting. I was a child. I had no choice. My mom didn’t have a choice. This was our lot in life.

When my mom got out of the military and we moved to Maryland, she had to work three jobs to take care of us. My dad didn’t pay child support and she made $10.00 too much to qualify for food stamps so working that many jobs put food on the table and clothes on our backs.  I received reduced lunches. I wasn’t embarrassed. I needed to eat.

I became their “de facto mother”. I doled out punishments and enforced chores. I had to make sure everything was done so that I wouldn’t be held liable.

I didn’t want to be a mother when I was still a child. I didn’t know how not to be. This kind of forced motherhood made me never want to have children. This made me feel as though my needs didn’t matter. The needs of my siblings came before my own needs.

The thing about not having your needs met is that you feel like you don’t matter. I couldn’t create boundaries because no one would respect them. I had no choice. I had no voice. I had to take care of my siblings.

I had a lot of pain during that time because I was a child raising children. I felt like my siblings didn’t respect me. Even now I sometimes feel the pain of past issues that manifest itself as disrespect. I’m sure that they don’t think of it in those terms, but they don’t know the sacrifices that I made too. Not just the ones made by our mother.

I didn’t get to participate in any after school activities until they were old enough to be left alone or my mom could watch them. There was no money for extras and no time. There was a schedule that had to be maintained.

I remember telling my mother a few years ago that I am tired of the disrespect of this family. I told her that I did everything to raise children that I didn’t bear. That I got raped and had to go home to take care of her children because that was my responsibility. I asked her who was ever going to take care of me?

It seemed as if no one was going to take care of me. I was on my own. That is why I am fiercely independent and choose not to show weakness. I hate being vulnerable. I hate not being able to do something. I’ve always taken care of me.

Even when it hurt to do so. Being in a healthy relationship allows me to appreciate the things that I didn’t even realize that I had. Things that I took for granted. Being a mother of an only child allows me the opportunity to give him experiences that I never had. I want Munch to enjoy being a child. No pressure. Not too much responsibility.

Does this mean that I don’t give him any responsibility? Nope. I do. I dole it out in stages. Cleaning your room, getting good grades and being civic minded have rewards attached to them. He’s a child. He’s learning.

I’m still learning and you know what? I’m pretty happy that BBG spoke about this topic. It’s pretty taboo in the black community, but the point of it all is that you as a parent have a responsibility to make sure that your children are children. Not the surrogate parent to their siblings.

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.