When I was a little girl, I planned my entire wedding. I spent hours drawing my wedding dress, planning out my wedding colors, even choosing my bridesmaids. The part I didn’t plan for? A co-parenting, struggle-bus family. Nor did I include all the things God would write into my story.
I’m a co-parenting momma, and my husband is a co-parenting dad. Together, we make up a blended family. My family has evolved into the most beautiful, life-giving group of humans on this planet, but let’s be honest real quick. It hasn’t always been that glorious. As a mom, I can say some ugly emotions and struggles can creep into my heart, as well as my husband’s heart. Thankfully, there are more truths than I can count from God’s Word that I can speak over my life. Praise hands for that all day.
So, let’s have some real talk, shall we?
We’re in a LifeGroup with other blended families. The friends we’ve met along the way have walked the road we’re walking. We ask each other questions. We share our hurts and rejoice in our wins. It takes a village! This kind of life can be sticky, grey, and messy. But our lifeline is Jesus.
Here are 9 struggles and emotions of a co-parenting mom
Spoiler alert, these can be familiar feelings for dads, too.
- You feel frustrated. Efforts to keep peace or kindness flowing get cut off by a sharp word or a slammed door. They just got back from a weekend with their other parent, and they won’t give you the time of day. You can’t wait to talk to them, but you begin to wonder if you should even keep trying.
- You feel insignificant and disrespected. It feels like no one is paying attention to how you feel, and you feel cast aside. You watched your baby drive away with their other parent while you’re left standing at the door or driving away in your car alone. They seemed happy to be together, but in a moment of weakness, you feel alone and unseen in your grief.
- You feel disregarded, with no boundaries around your own life. The other parent makes plans and doesn’t consider your schedule when doing so. Maybe you’re on a date or spending quality time with your best friend when, suddenly, your child’s other parent needs to talk to you about something important. And they need to talk now.
- You deal with repeated inconsistency. You worry that the inconsistencies between the two homes will wreak havoc on your children. What time do they really go to bed over there? What movies are they watching? Do they say bedtime prayers?
- You have many disappointments. There are activities you want to be a part of with your child, but it’s not your weekend with them. A birthday party, a movie night at the park.
- You get stuck in the middle. You find yourself sad or withdrawn when one of your children is gone for the weekend. Your spouse doesn’t understand why you’re not happy for some time with them. You feel torn between two people you love with all your heart.
- You feel like you’re taken for granted. You do the hard stuff over and over. Laundry in the late-night hours, keeping up with homework or school events, and enforcing the bedtime so they’re well-rested for the weekend away. And when they come back, they’ve had inadequate sleep, and they’re grumpy. So you re-start routines—only for them to be thrown off again the next time they leave and come back. It can feel like you’re the only one who’s working to keep your child healthy, clean, and clothed. Does anyone notice or appreciate how much work this really takes?
- You struggle with fear. Fear that by being the strict parent, your child will run to the other parent’s house to avoid responsibility or tattle on their mean, rule-enforcing mom or stepmom. You ask yourself, “Am I enough? Or too much?”
- You deal with loss. In really dark moments, sadness and anger overrule your heart with what could have been, what should have been, or what you dreamed of. And that can be downright paralyzing.
So what’s the common denominator in these 9 things? The word you. An inward focus of how all of this impacts you and your feelings. While it’s absolutely healthy and essential to recognize what’s going on with your emotions, it’s vital to turn your attention to God’s truth. We all know that we can’t always control our circumstances, but we can choose our responses and attitudes. Respond by seeking comfort in God through prayer, through sharing your heart with His followers, and through reading His Word. How do we respond to long, murky seasons of co-parenting?
With intentional and on-purpose faith. Choose to stay the course when your emotions say otherwise.
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLT
“Oh, that we might know the Lᴏʀᴅ! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” Hosea 6:3 NLT
The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them. Proverbs 20:7 NLT
Take heart. When the moments sting, God is still there with you, comforting you. When you decide to act with integrity and kindness and take time to understand the hidden feelings behind that slammed door or harsh word, you begin to see through God’s lens of grace and love. You form grit in the grind of challenging moments. As you serve your family without bitterness or frustration, you realize that you aren’t working for people’s approval anyway. Instead, you’re working to bring glory and honor to God. There is no greater honor than that. More praise hands here again, guys.
Are we really a struggle-bus, co-parenting family? Without God, yes. But that is not who God wants us to be. We are His children. When I obediently follow Him, there is renewed hope. There is sudden life and light from Jesus, creating shining moments. And those bright moments turn into bright seasons. Because God is faithful like that.