“She needs a diaper change,” I said.
As I recall, that may have been the norm. I cringe when I reflect back on it. It feels like such a “bad form” move. Why didn’t I just change the diaper?
Because for years, I was consumed with making money and making amends with a sore spot that tainted the tread of my soul. The result? I not only failed at doing so, but I also wasn’t present to the beauty right in front of me. Diaper changing included.
So what changed? We broke up.
Don’t get me wrong. It may not have been as one-sided as I am depicting, but this is for sure: the break up forced me to take stock of who I was and what the fundamentals of successful parenting should look like (to me). I didn’t let the opportunity pass.
Here are just a few things that changed me for the better as a parent:
– I morphed into a multi-tasker taking on chores previously done by my ex.
– Once away from the stress of a failed relationship, by degrees, I became more relaxed, more reflective, more present, and as a result, enjoyed being fully immersed with my life raising children.
– I developed my own parenting style.
– With 50% scheduled parenting time, I no longer took anything for granted, and thus, developed a more single-minded focus with the kids (as well as my off-parenting time, which has also proven super healthy).
– I became vastly closer and more connected to my children. Like so many nuclear families, mom is the center of everything and dad is a supporting player. I became the center of everything when they were with me.
– I got focused on (very) slowly repairing damaged relationships from an old version of myself. This improved my self-esteem and the surrounding support every parent needs when raising children.
Right now, it doesn’t necessarily get easier to leave my children at mom’s doorstep, sharing holidays or having to work everything around a parenting schedule, but I’m proud and grateful for the process. I always say about parenting: the first step is a journey and going all the way is a promise. I live by that.
Last night after a day of playing, visiting, crying, laughing, cooking, cleaning, running around town, and then cuddling them into bed, I came back later after they were sleeping, and looked with wonder at the angels who have transformed me.