Of all the advice I have ever gotten about dealing with the Baby Daddy/Baby Mama Drama that Canaan and I have been through, most people have told me something along the lines of “It gets better with time”. But when you really think about it, things DON’T really get better with just time, do they? Nothing does.
The truth is, expecting time to magically make things better is as silly as sitting a ham sandwhich on the porch overnight and expecting it to have bacon on it in the morning. We all know the bacon isn’t the problem with this little experiment. Bacon is virtually full proof—it makes everything better. The problem here is our expectations of time and it’s INability to single handedly deal with our problems.
As silly as it may be, I sat my behind down and waited. I would look at my watch and look at Canaan. And look back down at my watch and look back at Canaan. Subconsciously I would say to myself, “Canaan should be getting better annnny minute now.”
He never did turn into bacon.
Things between me and Canaan may have gotten predictable, but they didn’t get better. They got old, but they didn’t get better. As we moved in and out of relationships, cities, and jobs things changed, but they didn’t really get better. Actually, we just got used to the drama of it all.
We learned to function IN the dysfunction.
And we were calling our learned ability to operate in dysfuntion “better.” In reality, it was bondage that we had grown accustomed to. In order to break that cycle we had have to STOP doing 4 things:
- Using the word “MY” in in reference to the child(ren):
We don’t actually have to say this to communicate the sentiment. It’s all wrapped up in how we make decisions and behave as it relates to our children. And at the end of the day people (especially men) have trouble taking owernship over things we are constantly convincing them they don’t own or have authority over.
I started this mess on the day Jai was born. The first time Jai REALLY cried while Canaan was holding him I reached out my arms to signal that I wanted Canaan to hand Jai to me. Canaan hesitated.
“Give me my baby, Canaan!” I demanded…those 5 little words set the stage for the next 5 years of our dysfunctional interactions.
- Pointing out what he/she is doing wrong:
First of all, nobody likes that. Ever. And chances are we are not choosing our words carefully when we are pointing out his or her faults. Even with good intentions, we can unnecessarily stir up strife simply because we can’t keep our mouths shut.
For the sake of balance, I will also say that there is nothing wrong with airing your grievances…ONE TIME. After we say it, the other parent has probably already decided whether or not they are going to heed your advice. At that point, we can’t do anything else about it—no matter how legitimate it is.
For some reason, Canaan and I both felt like we were some kind of accountability partner for each other. Every time, one of us even THOUGHT about criticzing the other it was the MOST epic fail ever. While I was fully aware that I was not bound to Canaan’s opinion of me as a person and a mother, I was less enlightened about the fact that Canaan was not bound to my opinion of him either.
- Being more than just mad:
I’ve already told you all that sharing kids is HARD. (If you don’t know what I am talking about read this.) Well, we are bound to get mad! And I’m not talking about being midly irritated. I mean if I-had-a-gun-I’d-shoot-him kind of mad. Go ahead and get mad! It’s nothing wrong with that. However, being mad does not warrant a direct reaction (AND please for the love of bacon don’t shoot nobody!)
Canaan and I couldn’t just be mad-we had to be hurtful and threatening too. When I got mad I would dig down deep and pull up the most hurtful example of Canaan’s failure that I could get my hands on. When Canaan got mad he would threaten to do the thing that I feared most in life—taking Jai away from me. It only further destroyed an already broken bridge.
We CAN JUST be mad. We don’t have to use our kids to retaliate. We don’t have to cuss each other out. We don’t have to not answer the phone when they call.
- Not communicating about things that really matter:
Our failure to communicate is really just an attempt to exert power over the other person. Partnerships don’t work as power struggles. Whether you like it or not–it’s a partnership. If the other parent is involved at all–it’s a partnership.
I found out that Canaan was married from Facebook. And before you judge him..I was fully packed and ready to go before I told Canaan that I was moving to Kansas City. We were ridiculous!
While these are extreme examples, this is something that happens everyday on a smaller scale. When our kids get in trouble at school and we don’t tell their father. Or when we drop our child off with someone else and we don’t tell their mother. We know when we are intentionally withholding information that we should be sharing.
This isn’t sounding “better” is it? That’s because it wasn’t. The truth is that people do this kind of stuff all the time like it’s ok—like we can just keep acting like this and everything will just miraculously be fine. And our children will be fine and emotionally well adjusted growing up under these circumstances.
We have to stop lying to ourselves.
P.S.A: If you are waiting on your child(ren)s other parent to change who they are…Don’t bother. Take it from someone who tried it 6 years (8 if you include the years before Jai was born). It is a frustrating experience that will have you locked in a prison of bitterness while the key to your liberation is in the hands of the person least likely to free you. Free yourself!
“But, LaNee! How in the world do I do that?!” I am glad you asked!
It’s simple really—by that I mean that the concept is simple. The application, on the other hand, is hard as hell! Don’t be like I was, sitting around waiting on sliced ham to turn into bacon! (Too far?) Ok. 🙂
I wasted so much time waiting on Canaan to be better that I missed about 5 years of opportunities for LaNee` to be bacon better. If you want a better relationship with your Baby Daddy/Baby Mama or anybody else for that matter you have to answer three questions: (1) How are you contributing to the negativity of the situation? Make no mistake about it! You are, in fact, contributing to the negativity of the situation. (2) What can you do better that doesn’t require the other person to change anything at all? (3) What limitations does the other person have that you need to accept and work with? Because you can’t change them and you can’t get $5 dollars from a person who only has $2.
Stay Wonderful! 🙂