Becoming The "Other" Parent
6 weeks. Give or take a day or two. The minutes, hours, days and weeks are all just sort of running into each other, so it's hard to keep track. But that is approximately the amount of time since the boys went to live with their dad. Going through a divorce, you tend to prepare yourself for a lot of things, but one thing that I never thought I would have to prepare myself for was becoming the "other" parent. See, when you are a married couple, you are usually a united front. You are usually on the same page when it comes to your children and you usually work through obstacles and hardships together. But with divorce comes a less pleasant parenting situation.
There is usually the one parent who, for the most part, gets to be in charge of the discipline, the homework, the doctor visits, the handing out of consequences and time-outs, making sure chores get done and manners are learned. The one who makes sure the kids do their reading each day, get good grades, brush their teeth, make good choices, get to bed at a decent time and become a good human. This parent will ultimately be judged for the way the kids turn out. If the kids grow up to be jerks, it will be on this parent's conscience. This parent is also known as the "bad cop".
Hi. I am the "bad cop".
Then there is the other parent. The one with little to no responsibility for the kids. They don't really see them that often, so they don't need to pass down punishment or rules. They don't have the same stresses as the "bad cop". They get to enjoy their kids, I mean really enjoy them, take them to do fun things, stay up late with them and let them eat what they want, all within a 48 hour period before they are dropped back off to be with the "bad cop" again. There is no homework, no doctor appointments, no chores, and no sense of reality for this parent or child/ren. This parent is known as the "good cop".
I'm not here to bash the "good cop", I just don't remember signing up to be the "bad cop" when we filed our divorce papers. I had this crazy idea that we would be able to be friends and co-parent our children and raise them into kind and loving men. Yet, here I am, slowly realizing that I am now the "other" parent.
I don't think I was ever prepared to become the "other" parent.
Even though I was the "bad cop" for 11 years, I also got to be the one who was there for all of the firsts. All of the first days of school, first lost tooth, first sports games, first crushes...all the firsts. It was like a fair trade, I dealt with all of the crap so I got to reap the benefits of the good stuff. But becoming the "other" parent means that I am no longer there for the firsts, and that kills me.
I grew up never really knowing my biological dad. Sure, I went with him on the scheduled weekends, but we never really connected, and by the time I was about 11, I stopped wanting to go visit. Now, as an adult and mother, I don't even have a relationship with him, and I get this nagging ache in the pit of my stomach thinking that there is even a sliver of a chance of this happening with the boys and me. I was never prepared for the possibility that I might not be there when the boys start to drive, or date, go off to college or someday marry. I was the "bad cop", I earned that stuff, damn it!
It's really hard to put into words the feelings we are dealing with, but the best way I can describe it is that we are living in a quiet storm. The past 6 weeks have been peaceful, no chaos, no yelling or fighting or arguing, no name-calling. Maybe that makes me an asshole parent to admit that, but it's the truth. We went from constant chaos to peace & quiet. And maybe that's what we all need right now. But we are dealing with a different kind of storm, nonetheless. A quiet one. Literally.
We reach out to the boys often to let them know we love them deeply, we miss them infinitely and we want them to be happy always. Our hearts have 2 gigantic holes in them from the boys absence that will only be filled by their return. I continue to hope and pray that one day they will understand that I was the "bad cop", not because I wanted to be, but because I had to be. It was my job. I was the "bad cop" because I loved them.