Co-Parenting

In our marriage vows we did not say, “Until death do us part,” we instead chose, “Until our love ends.” To both of us, that seemed much more reasonable. Our romantic Love did indeed end.

To the outside world, we seemed perfectly happy. We had two beautiful daughters together, had been through a lot as a family, and we looked great in pictures. We had both grown over the years, and not together, we had grown apart. After several honest conversations with each other. In the last one I remember we both refered to our marriage as, “beating a dead horse,” and then laughed together about how awful that phrase is, and why anyone ever would beat a dead horse. We made the decision it was over. In 2015, My husband and I finalized our divorce.

Here is the thing about divorce with kids, you are still family. You will always be family. Not in the same ways, but you are in each others lives forever. Your children love both of you. You are both their family. They need to see you support each other, to know that you communicate regularly, that they can’t play you against each other.

Ah Yes, co-parenting. No it is not always EASY… let’s be honest if it were always EASY, you’d most likely still be with that person… People grow apart and that is ok. But at one point you liked/loved this person enough to breed with them. You could have NOT had sex with them, you could have had an abortion, given the child up for adoption…You chose to have children together.

A child…children… That is a lifetime commitment. (excluding those that would harm your kids). You NEED to be friends with this person…at least acquaintances. My Ex-husband and I talk often about school, behavior, and feelings, we even support each other in our adult lives. Sometimes we share holidays and vacations. We camp on the same grounds, my partner and I have the kids part of the time and my Ex-husband comes to take them to some activities. Some things we do ALL together. We also have our own individual time with the kids. The kids know that we as parents ALL (including my partner) maintain communication.

Maybe you had an especially messy split. You may not be there yet, but with work you can at least be cordial to each other. Yes, work, much like any relationship co-parenting takes work. It is totally worth the work, because it provides balance and stability to your children. NEVER… I repeat NEVER bash the other parent in front of the kids. NEVER bash the other parent on social media (if you just can’t hold it in, write in a diary, speak to a therapist or call a trusted friend)… 

Always allow your child to spend time with their other parent and be in their life. Yes, even if they cheated on you, even if they owe child support (that is what courts are for). As long as that other parent is loving toward your child, it is in the best interest of the child to have them involved.  If you hold the child from their other parent, or speak bad about the other parent, as they grow that child will resent you. If the other parent is not a great person let the child figure that out for themselves, they will. 

Does your Ex have a new love interest? Get to know them, this person could become very influential in your child’s life. Jealousy, bitterness, anger, will get you nowhere in a healthy co-parenting scenario. Drop those emotions like the bad habits they are. This isn’t about you, this is about your kids and what is best for them.

This is being an adult…figure it out, get along. Teach them maturity by showing them maturity in your actions and words.  Do it for yourself, as a parent you need all the teamwork you can get. Do it for your kids, allow them to have as much love in their lives as possible. You can do it. You are awesome parents. YOU WILL ALWAYS put the kids first.

Festival Babies

I used to look at pictures of my Mom and think, “Wow she was so cool, what happened?” My Mom would tell me, “Well I had YOU and it was time to grow up and become a Mother.” aka “A conservative,” As much as I love my Mom those words made me decide NEVER to have children of my own. Although I loved working with children, babysitting, and I also taught “the basics of acting,” to 4-10 years olds. I didn’t want to give up who I was as a person, the “free spirit, fun loving, party girl.” I was often told I was born in the wrong time, and watching documentaries on the 60s, I tended to agree.

Well ALL that changed for me when I was 22. I was working at a small organic clothing store in the magical, Maryland town, of Ellicott City. The owner there asked if I wanted to go to a festival. I thought, “You mean like Woodstock? those still exist?!?! ABSOLUTELY!” I loved going out to nightclubs and dressing up for raves, but at the time I did not know that festivals did indeed STILL exist. I was thrilled to attend my first festival. Beltaine at Four Quarters Farm, an Earth religion sanctuary in Pennsylvania. We arrived popped a bottle of mead(honey wine), danced around the fire to intoxicating drum beats and had an amazing time! The people there were colorful, creative, musical, magical, JUST the rainbow kindred spirits I had ALWAYS been in search of! Whilst diving right in to the culture, flinging full tilt, left and right throughout the festival weekend I noticed… not JUST adults in attendance but FULL families, ranging from infants to teenagers. These parents certainly looked like, they felt no need to conform or change, simply because they had become parents. There all together at the festival, they were celebrating life and nature, blowing bubbles, hula hooping, dancing, and laughing with their children. That was when I decided I would actually love to have my own children someday, and raise them to love the Earth, be accepting of ALL kinds of people, to be kind and most importantly HAPPY. That maybe the biggest impact I could have on this planet would be to raise conscious people who would one day grow to be adults, and have a positive effect on the future!

I was 24 at a fall festival where one of the children (now a young adult), told me, “You are going to have a baby soon.” I thought, “No way,” and laughed…Lo and behold my first daughter was born July 20th my 25th year. My Husband at the time and I had agreed we would bring our children to festivals from birth and teach them to be stewards of the Earth. We had two lovely daughters together, who have been raised attending festivals, with us both. When my current Partner and I got together I encouraged him to bring his son along with us to the festivals. His son is autistic and being around nature and accepting people does wonders for his mood and behavior. My Partner and I have recently had a son and we will be bringing ALL 4 kids this festival season! The kids, love being in the fresh air, making crafts, dancing around the fires, playing drums, meeting new people, listening to stories myths and legends, learning from elders, and all that goes with camping, like S’MORES!!! I love that the children are exposed to people of all races, same sex couples, transgender and binary folk, the kids have learned that people are people and pass no judgements about the beautiful differences that make us all unique. Over the years at my favorite festival campground, It has been an incredible thing to watch the children grow in the most amazing intelligent, and talented, young adults.

There are a few general things to consider If you want to bring your children to a festival. Is it appropriate? Let’s be real, some festivals just are not right for kids. Open drug use, alcohol, sex…hey it happens, that is why I NEVER take the kids to ANY festival I have not first attended without them. I tend to look for spiritual festivals, yoga festivals, music events with FAMILY FRIENDLY in the description. If the campground is one, that is familiar to us we give the three kids walkie talkies, to stay in communication with us, and give them the freedom to roam in a group for short periods of time. In a perfect world everyone could be trusted, but in a perfect world a lot of things would be different…ONE RULE THAT NEVER BENDS…The kids are NEVER allowed in anyone else’s tent without one of us being there as well. You’ll want to be prepared with foods your child will eat, many festivals have meal plans, those are served at specific times, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and what you get is what you get. So if you have a picky eater or decided you don’t want to family tied down to those time frames, bring your own food. I suggest bringing a lot of snacks either way, because you don’t want to hear “I’m hungry, I’m hungry, I’m hungry…” If there is still an hour until the next meal plan meal. If you have not been to the campground before, it is important to call ahead to find out if they have drinkable water and plumbing, Some campgrounds do some don’t and you definitely don’t want to be in the dark on THAT one! You’ll want to be prepared for all types of weather, rain won’t ruin the fun if you’ve brought your ponchos and rain boots! Some festivals allow children to attend for FREE, and ANY parent can appreciate that! MANY festivals will discount or even comp tickets for adults if you sign up to volunteer for some time at the festivals. Not only is saving the money great but it also provides networking and behind the scenes opportunities.

Being surrounded by art, music, nature, intelligent and learned people of all walks of life…there is no other way I could imagine raising my tiny tribe. pregpregfest2pregfest3pregfest4festbabyfestbaby2festbaby8festbaby4festbaby5     festbaby13festbaby9festbaby10festbaby11festbaby14festbaby15

 

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