THREAD: I promised y’all a this. It’s MY co-parenting journey. Pls note I’m not asking for ANYONE’s advice. I’m just speaking on MY experience over the last 15 years of parenting & how Laila’s dad & I co-parent. Even tho he can be an ass, any slander against her dad, I’ll block u
I say I’ll block you, cos no matter what, that’s my child’s father.
Laila’s dad (Let’s call him M) & I married when I was 25 & he was 27. Cut to the divorce... we never went to maintenance court at the time. We both agreed, she was OUR responsibility & I didn’t see a need
My condition was “you will take care of Laila, regards of what she needs” He agreed. He’s financially fit to do so & he does his part more than fairly. There has never been an issue in that. M however like a lot of men after a divorce when buck wild. He was enjoying his life
Whilst I was left, literally, holding the baby. His father stepped in, not to get him to act right but to help me bring Laila up. From the day we divorced his father has played the lead male role in Laila’s life.
For the first 6 years after we divorced. (Laila was 1.5 years old when I left) I wouldn’t even need all 10 fingers to tell you how many times he seen her. Even for a few hours.
He was building his career & doing well at it, I won’t lie but I was trying to do the same thing. He helped me financially quite a few times too but I could never explain to anyone what it’s like to watch your kid wait for someone they’re excited to see but doesn’t pitch up
The pain & disappointment in their eyes. That killed me. I’d call him, try to make him see her, beg him, cos I wasn’t too proud to do that for her but nothing would change. I’d sit there, feeling as dejected & rejected as she was. I’d cry in the bathroom so she didn’t see
Sometimes she’s catch me & she was young enough for me to pretend I’d just hurt myself or something. I felt helpless, like is it me he doesn’t want to see, am I the issue? Does he not love her? I was angry & hurt all at the same time
I’d try & call him but he wouldn’t answer. We wouldn’t hear from him for weeks. Sometimes months. I was so confused & Laila was just disappointed. Then he married his 2nd wife. She went into their marriage with her son.
Guys... I’ve never seen M be a dad like that. Wow... like wow. It shocked the shit out of me. His wife was amazing, she came to fetch Laila every second weekend. I love that woman. She helped me have my own life. She helped me have a social life again because she was there
Still, I couldn’t understand why it had taken HER, to make him a dad. I was single & a mom with no family in JHB & going there I felt Laila had stability. A family unit, I loved that for her. We started co-parenting really well eventually. I thought YES, finally!
They had a gorgeous son. (My cutie) but not long after having their son, she left him. I don’t know why, not my business. Her step mom didn’t even say goodbye. One minute Laila had a big brother & a new born brother & another mom, next they were back in her step moms country
He was going through his own things & she didn’t see him for 6 months. I had to explain his divorce to her, why her other mom was gone & where her new brother was. Nothing will make me forget her crying so hard she couldn’t breath. I hated M in that moment.
I hated him for leaving me to clean up his mess. Eventually he came around with lots of me threatening to be dramatic basically. I kept feeling like such a bad mom. That I couldn’t even get her dad to be a dad. I didn’t know that wasn’t my job, at the time.
It was so much work trying to be her dad as well, that at the age of 10 for my own sanity, I made the conscious choice I could no longer do that. It was draining & the self blame was driving me crazy.
I decided whatever she lacks from a dad, I will do my best but not go out of my way. It was his job & mentally I was too drained to do it. At no point was my job at any time, to make M look bad to Laila.
I used to make every excuse under the sun about why he wasn’t there. I never wanted her to feel like it was her fault. I’d lie about wherever he was cos in all honesty I didn’t know.
Raising a child full time while trying to run a business with no breaks in between broke a part of me I’ll probably never get back, for no other reason than the fact I lived in survival mode for so long. The mental & physical exhaustion had me
Eventually I spoke to him & you need to understand I did EVERYTHING in my power to avoid M. Everything. He was not my burden to bear, so minimal contact kept me sane. However on this day, we talked, like adults & things changed. He got better for about a year.
Then he met his then 3rd wife. Suddenly Laila started featuring in his life again. At this point Laila was around 11 & she had started developing her own ideas about her dad. I have mostly maintained my distance in their immediate relationship cos I didn’t want to develop her
Ideas about who he is. She needed to make whatever conclusions she seen fit. Because she was older tho, she started asking questions. About our marriage, why we divorced etc & I didn’t lie to her. I don’t know if she’s ever asked her dad those questions.
That conversation was very tough for me because I had to say things about her dad that just wasn’t my place but she asked. She never spoke of it again.
Anyway he got married again to a really lovely woman who includes Laila in their lives. I appreciate her for that
She tried to be the best step mom she could & we clashed on some stuff but she never disrespected me as Laila’s mom. During this marriage at some point he slacked again. For the 1st time, I went to a family lawyer. It shocked him. I’d never involved the courts before
It shocked him so much he asked me to meet him. We met in a public place, I needed to know to had to, for Lailas sake , stay calm. We spoke, properly this time, years of not saying anything came flooding out & me that doesn’t cry, broke down. I felt weak
That wasn’t what I wanted. I just wanted him to feel my exhaustion of doing it alone but it wasn’t meant to be through tears. He apologized. I’d never heard him apologize for not being a better dad before. He told me so much that day
I finally understood his absence but after all those years, for her though, I couldn’t forgive it. I also just felt that after I didn’t want to play his role anymore, I gave myself permission to not be the perfect mom, I just wasn’t. I just wanted my own life
He’s been through 3 marriages, I could barely have a relationship because I didn’t have the free time to do that. He was always out, traveling, I was driving Laila to school every day. I didn’t want to resent him, that would mean he’d live rent free in my head
After that convo, I’ve freed myself from the shackles of his responsibility.
Over lockdown I had my first big fight with my kid. Her grandfather had to come & intervene cos we were both angry. She asked my something about her dad & I told her the truth. She was so angry at me & I mean angry! She was angry I never told her the truth about him
About him not pitching on visits, she was angry I made him out to be the person he wasn’t. I told her it wasn’t my job to demonise him. Her grandfather, his dad, said “Your mom did this, you are who you are cos of her, she’s done everything for you”
I burst out crying. From the relief of her knowing but also the validation I wasn’t the horrible mom I thought I was.
I’ll never excuse M’s behaviour but co-parents please, stop trying to train the other parent into parenthood. That’s not your job. Leave them. Do you, don’t waste your life, energy or purpose on things you cannot change. The end
Oh 1 more thing. Remember these kids eventually grow up, they’ll go to the absent parent at some point to ask for an explanation. So please, Don’t lie about anything.

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