What coParenting? I’m Single Parenting!
As you can probably tell from the title, I was too upset and disappointed about my ex leaving me to figure out how I should have taken care of our child. At the time he left, I was 23 years old with a 2-year-old son. Before my son was born I worked as a customer service representative and wasn’t making much money, and after my ex left I couldn’t find work because I had a kid to take care of and couldn’t afford to pay child care.
It was a tough road and I didn’t know how I was going to get through it, but I did. Yes, my ex was willingly paying child support but it wasn’t enough for us to live on. For the first six months after my ex left, I was devastated. I struggled with why it happened and decided that he was responsible for my misery. Why did he leave me and why doesn’t he want contact with his son? After about six months of being in a daze, I finally pulled myself out of it… with the help of my family and friends.
The first six months after my ex left me and our son I didn’t know what to do and how to act. I was constantly blaming him for us being alone and wouldn’t accept any other answer. I was my own worst enemy and my son was paying for it. Then one day a close friend, Stephanie, asked to come over and talk. I was thrilled with the idea of her visiting, after such a long time of being without her. Stephanie was friends with both my ex and myself, but after the separation, she decided to not take sides and was distant in our friendship.
She asked if she could be honest with me and said some things that made me upset. First, she explained that she cared for my son, my ex, and me and that she wanted to help. Then she told me that I expected too much from other people and not enough from myself. That life is full of uncertainties and that I needed to take care of myself and my son. Expecting other people to take care of me while I sat back and did nothing, was unfair to my son, my friends and family, and myself.
I remember thinking that she had no right to talk to me that way and I wanted to toss her out of the apartment, but I didn’t. She was the only friend I had, and to be honest I was lonely. That was the pivot point in our relationship. She helped me to understand that I needed to do something with my life, if not for myself then for my son.
A new attitude
With Stephanie’s help, I stopped complaining about my ex and not being able to find work. Instead, I put my time into thinking positively, and helping family and friends with whatever I could. I found out that people didn’t want to spend time with me because they had their own problems and didn’t want to listen to mine. I became a problem solver instead of a complainer, and the people I helped soon wanted to help me. It didn’t take long before my parents offered to watch my son while I found work. They even said that if I wanted to go to trade school or college they would be willing to help watch their grandson, to let me live with them, and to help pay for community college classes.
My career change
Yes, I was scared to take my parent’s advice. In high school, I was a good student but I never considered myself to be smart enough for college. Of course, I never expected to have a child so early in my life either. It didn’t take more than a few weeks before I decided to take control of my life. To be responsible for me and my son by enrolling in nursing school. It took me eight years of working and going to school part-time before I became a registered nurse. I won’t lie to you, it was difficult and there were times that I wanted to quit. But every day I came home to my son, I knew what I had to do.
Living a new life
The relationship with my ex has changed too. He found out I was going back to school, had moved in with my parents, and was taking responsibility for my life. He has moved on and is married to someone else. But, I can say that I respect him for being responsible enough to pay child support and ultimately being a good father to our son. It took him two years before he apologized for being immature and not spending time with him. We realized that we both made mistakes, and have been better parents because of it.
Although my life was hard at times, I know that it wasn’t nearly as difficult as it could have been. Many people have it much worse than I did and still find the strength to improve themselves. It can be as simple as looking within for the answers to their problems. I was fortunate enough to have one person in my life who was willing to stick her neck out for me. Stephanie loved me enough to take a chance in losing our friendship by being honest with me. I give her most of the credit, but I also give myself some as well. Somewhere deep inside me, I was strong enough to accept what she told me and use it to change my life. I love my family and friends for helping me, and I love myself for having the strength to listen to them.