Single Mom Confession: I Have Bittersweet Feelings About My Kids' Dad

It’s been almost six months since my soon-to-be ex-husband and I split, and to say it’s been a whole new world is an understatement. I know that the dust is still settling, and my hope is that someday we can be real friends as well as co-parents, but right now things are still raw.

Which is weird, to say the least, as I try to navigate a new relationship with this person that things were so bad with that I decided to file for divorce. Because given my druthers, I’d probably choose to not ever have anything to do with him again. Since we share two absolutely amazing children, that just isn’t an option.


So I have this person in my life. Permanently. Even when our youngest turns 18, there will still be graduations and weddings and, God willing, grandbabies someday. A new generation of people that will be equally related to both of us. These are all things I thought about, as I hope most people considering divorce think about, but nothing can prepare you for the experience of living it.

Here’s the other thing about sharing children with an ex-partner -- I really do like my kids, and a full 50 percent of their DNA comes from him. I see him in their faces every day in certain expressions, I see mannerisms that make me think of him, and I wonder if they were born that way or if they picked them up.

And those things remind me that there’s a reason I fell in love with him and married him in the first place. It wasn’t all bad, after all. I hold on to those things and remind myself that stubbornness can become determination, and other things that I won’t put into words can become self-confidence.

More from The Stir: How My Divorce Made Me a Better Mom

The hard part that no one tells you about before you separate is the dual feelings of pain and joy that will come when your ex steps up to the plate and becomes Parent of the Year. Don’t get me wrong -- my ex was never an absent father -- let’s just say that consistency was an issue. And before anyone accuses me of anything, let me state for the record that I am grateful that my baby-daddy is NOT a deadbeat dad.

Still, I find myself simultaneously thrilled for my daughters to have a wonderful, functional relationship with their father, and wounded that he is doing for them what he never could for me. I won’t lie -- it stings.

No, I don’t want to get back together at this point. There’s too much pain, water under the bridge that runs deep even when it looks still, to consider it. But I grieve the loss of the relationship. For the hopes and dreams I had for us. For ... everything.

While I’m doing all of that in my heart and my brain, I am ultimately happy for my kiddos to have two loving parents in their lives. And I’m doing my best to figure out this new relationship with my ex. It’s hard work, man. And I strive every single day to disinvite bitterness to this party. After all, how can I be bitter that my kids have a dad that loves them?

Have you ever felt conflicted in your relationship with your ex?

Image via Ocean/Corbis

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