My personal Facebook account has been glittered with the frustrations of
co-parenting. I typically try to refrain from these types of venting posts. Usually they just end up in silly arguments between people who’s only connection is this virtual friendship. But I made a few exceptions this time around. Plus, I tried really, really hard not to be offensive.
For a look at what has been going on between us and them, read my Letter to the Others.
Mr. Sexy is a problem solver and came home Thursday with fabulous idea. If everyone could agree, we all would get what we want. It would be a ‘glass is half-full’ type of scenario. To some, Mr. Sexy’s idea would seem crazy. But what I saw was the burning desire to put Michael’s well-being ahead of our own even when it might feel costly.
Mr. Sexy proposed that we offer The Others the entire two-week Winter Break with Michael while we take the previous two weeks. The previous two weeks include Michael’s performance with our church. The performance The Others were refusing to take Michael to.
My first thought was: Yes! That works!
But giving up Christmas and the immediate days surrounding Christmas? And giving up New Year’s Eve with Michael?
To all the above, it was a non-issue.
For me growing up, it was typical for my dad to work through the holidays. This meant we celebrated occasions on different days and sometimes we celebrated twice. Once on the holiday and then again when dad got home. As a kid, sometimes this was sad and hard. But as I got older it became easier. The result is that I now see this as a blessing.
When I miss Michael’s birthday, it’s OK. We can celebrate later. If I miss out on Christmas, well, it’s just a day. We can turn any other day we want into a celebration of Jesus’ birth with presents and a tree and a big fancy dinner.
Any day can be special if we choose to make it so. The glass can remain half full. Brimming with hope and possibility.
I made the phone call to propose the switch. Forward to voice mail. No surprise there!
Days later I was still waiting for some type of response. But all there was, was silence…
Mr. Sexy and I had no idea what to expect. If The Others agreed, then it would be like bribery. Essentially, that’s what we were doing – dangling a bright and shiny picture so we could be allowed to deal with the real life issues Michael is struggling through.
If they didn’t agree, I think it would be out of pure stubbornness to make sure Mr. Sexy and I went unsatisfied. According to the step-mom’s words, “We choose not to give in to your demands all the time.” As we awaited a response I wondered if this would be the case. (Disclaimer: I do have a history and a tendency to come off demanding. It’s something I have been working on and continue to work on. In this instance, however, I made no demands. I offered an idea and asked for a response.)
Either way, I felt disheartened by the situation. I felt a loss of hope. My cup wasn’t spilling over anymore. In fact, it was becoming less and less full. If there was no hope, what could our future look like? How are the four of us to work together if we can’t even speak over the phone?
Sunday I received a text. ( Hey, at least it’s a response!) Michael’s dad asked for Michael to call him later. This was weird for two reason: 1. We usually call Michael without setting up a specific time and 2. The timing was interesting…
As Michael got on the phone with his dad, the change in his demeanor was startling. He slouched into the couch wearing his “I don’t like this” face and spoke roughly, almost angrily. This is the essence of what I heard:
Dad: Do you want to do the play?
Michael: No! It’s too booooring!
Dad: Oh come on bud. I’m sure it’s fun.
Michael: I don’t want to talk about this anymore.
Dad: Did you tell your mom you would do the play?
Michael: Yes. I told the director too.
Dad: Well, since you told her you would do the play, you need to do it.
Michael: (Angry silence.)
Dad: But I will come and see you and so will the rest of the family like (insert list of names here).
I think it would have been okay for Michael’s dad to ask to speak to me and explain things. He didn’t. Perhaps he was concerned I would be mean. Instead I received an entirely too long text message laying out the dates (the same dates which I had already given him) to switch the weeks in our favor. Or their favor. Depending on who you see as the victor.
In essence, we won. Mr. Sexy and I gave up Winter Break and in turn received something we value much, much more.
We get teach to Michael what it means to persevere. To push through the fear. To succeed even thought it might not be done perfectly.
We get to teach him what it means to be strong.
Is your glass half-empty for half-full?
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