#parent | #kids | My Ex and I Fought About Everything. Then Came the Coronavirus.

I bought cough syrup and children’s Tylenol.

In late February I told my therapist I was displacing my anxiety about being a single parent and our looming divorce trial onto the virus. She nodded along, agreeing that my stress was connected to my situation. But somewhere during the session, I accidentally convinced her that my anxiety was warranted. As she left, she said she needed to go shopping.

I drove my family nuts with all of my worries, but I decided not to talk to my ex about it. I feared that if I tried giving him rules or even made suggestions, it could backfire.

I waited. And waited. Finally, once it was clear the virus was in the New York area, and we started discussing the situation, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that we had come to the same conclusions independently. We both stopped traveling, and we agreed that if one of us started developing symptoms, we’d tell the other.

One morning I found a WhatsApp message from him asking if he should send the boys to school that day. He wanted to make such a difficult decision together. I almost burst into tears from relief.

We’re now on the same page about rules for the kids in terms of social distancing. No more play dates. Yes, they can go in the backyard; no, they can’t go to playgrounds. After the boys and I made a schedule for their days home, I texted an image of it to my ex, asking if it looked good to him too. He agreed to it. The same schedule in both houses. Wow.

(As I wrote this, he messaged me a link to Scholastic’s digital hub for distance learning. I responded with information about the Cincinnati Zoo’s virtual safaris. It’s like we’re sane adults.)

Under normal circumstances, divorce and co-parenting can be a struggle. Every holiday this year was miserable, even Presidents’ Day. But now, I’m finding a silver lining. It’s been only a week since schools have closed, and many of my friends are desperate for a little time away from their kids. Don’t hate me, but after a few days of my kids running wild in my home, I get to ship them off to their father’s.


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