How I Became a Better Father After Splitting with My Co-Parent

Several years ago when Ella was a baby, we were at my mom’s house. Ella was in my arms. I noticed she needed a diaper change. So I called to my to ex. Then handed Ella over to her.

‘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, I wasn’t present to the beauty right in front of me. Diaper changing included.

So what changed? We broke up.

It may not have been as one-sided as I am depicting. What’s for sure is that the break up forced me to take stock of who I was. I had to get clear on what the fundamentals of successful parenting should look like (to me).

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 proven healthy).
  • I became much 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. They were sleeping. I looked with wonder at the angels who have transformed me.