It wasn't until many years after my son's father and I divorced that I realized just how differently we were co-parenting vs the majority of the world of divorcee's.
Although I was the one who made the decision to end the marriage, and even though I didn't know what the future would hold, I knew deeply that it was more important to bravely enter the world of the unknown and be able to lovingly raise my son in an environment that was rich with enthusiasm, love, laughter, light, joy, transparency, play, creativity and wonder than to maintain the status quo of mediocrity in a relationship that simply no longer fit the two people in it.
I was both surprised and extremely grateful when my ex-husband, who was hurt and wounded from my dissolution of our previously-committed "til death do us part" vows, stepped up to the task of co-parenting from a completely different perspective with me. He and I, separately, made the choice to always put the best potential for our son first. We each decided that regardless of how we may have felt about the other, our now-defunct relationship or societal expectations and opinions - we would be better for our son apart, than we were potentially able to be for him together.
Now, 11 years after our divorce, I can't count the number of times we each have been commended for our unbelievable relationship as exes and co-parents. People are often shocked that we not only speak often about the ongoing parenting of our son, but we're friends, we lean on each other to work through things for him together and we actually like one another. I often comment that we are better co-parents from separate households than we could have ever been together under one roof. We are the parents that still sit together at school functions or social engagements that require both our attention.
When I made the commitment to myself and to my then-young-son to be happy above all else, I set the wheels in motion and the tone for what I wanted our life to be. I was the creator of that reality for us - it set the stage by which everything else fills in around us, even though I didn't know at the time what it would look like, or how it would play out. But that's a critical step I want to reiterate. When you decide something for yourself, and it's the impetus of what matters to you most, the entirety of the Universe is working on your behalf to ensure you receive that - and so much more.
I have the most profound pleasure and honor to nurture and help raise a boy, now young teen, that is truly, one of the greatest gifts I've ever been part of receiving. My "vision" for my son isn't that he grow up to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or anything vocationally in particular. What I desire, and always have for him, is that he be himself. That he be happy, fulfilled and create a life he loves and that works for him. That he come to know who he is - an ongoing, never-ending process, that he learn to tap the potential he came here to express in only the way that he can, and to know that ultimately, above all else, he is loved and adored. But not just by me - by the full spectrum of the Universe and all those who've come before him.
As a child that was a product of divorce - like so many in the world - and who felt like a coveted possession that was caught in power struggles between warring adults, feeling voiceless, choice-less and rudderless, I had energetically and emotionally launched immense desires back then of how I'd be different as an adult, a woman, a mom and a parent. Having worked through, processed, healed and released the wounds of childhood (another process that comes in layers), taking responsibility for my part in creating and participating in it all - for what it set up for now and the future - I could not be the parent I am today had I experienced a different childhood.
When I have open, deep, powerful discussions with my son about all kinds of subjects, I wouldn't change anything about my past. Because in those conversations, and all the other moments in between, I can feel the potency that my presence, my love, my curiosity, my lack of judgment or projections of some ideals, and my pure desire to invite him into simply learning to love himself, is what drives me and what will remind him of what's truly available and possible for him.
And I tell ya', this kid came into the world on his terms, a day earlier than a scheduled C-section, and has never relented in standing firmly in who he is. Like the time he was four and had seen a pretty leotard on a girl and said to me, "Mom, I want a leotard like she's wearing." As I looked over at him and replied, "Yeah? Is that so? What color do you think you might like?" He responded, "What are my choices?" As any modern-day-mom would do, I went to my computer, did a search for children's leotards, pulled up a page and let my wide-eyed wonder peruse the endless photos showing him all his options.
I don't know why it surprised me when he picked the pinkest, shiniest little girls leotard from the pages. In that moment, I talked myself through all the mind-chatter that takes over us and often drowns out what's really important. Stuff like: Yes, it made him happy. No, it didn't mean me might have a preference for girls clothing. Maybe he might, so what? No, it didn't mean he was gay. So what if he was - it wouldn't matter as long as he was happy and true to himself. No, his father wouldn't understand or be as open with this choice - so what. I'm the mom and this is my one of my roles - facilitate and foster my son's curiosity, wonder and exploration.
Several days later, the pink leotard arrived, my kid quickly donned it and the joy that exuded through him was almost blinding. He was beyond happy. Beyond excited. He was LIT the *F* UP. We did delicately and honestly navigate the subject of what others might think, say or how they might respond because of his choice. I was able to equip and empower my son with information and feedback that would support him the most gracefully and powerfully. It's what I've done since then and always will. I give him the "world's view", my personal perspective, potential upsides and downsides to whatever we're looking at, the reminder that only his inner wisdom and authority (gut) matter and that every outcome will provide him with invaluable data from which to evaluate and make more, new decisions.
As I consciously help him navigate the distinct difference in parenting styles and beliefs between me and his father (old school, old mentality, old way of thinking, expecting, projecting and judging, re-creating based solely the way he's known that was modeled for him), it's a glorious contrast that allows my kiddo to determine what works and feels best to him as he responds to it all; as he creates within the structures of his dad's home and mine. I remind him that he set up a powerful playground in which to experiment and play in while launching powerful desires from all he experiences.
All these years later, my son is happy, compassionate, well-adjusted, healthy, smart, curious, observant, provocative, "sticks-to-his-guns" rather than acquiesces to something simply because the world says so and is an ongoing teacher to me. He knows how to hold his "space" in the world and doesn't make apologies for it. He identifies as male, doesn't desire any leotards that I'm aware of, wears his hair shoulder length and still shows his mom great affection. He isn't afraid to have an opinion or ask for what he wants. And he fully expects to have it. He is the walking, talking example of what we all are when we come in to this life, but what we often modify, relinquish or diminish as we age. He hasn't given up one inch of who he truly is, and I am so freaking grateful for that. I get to witness him creating his reality every day. He most definitely keeps me on my toes!
On days that I get tired, or allow myself to be complacent in my dedication, I only have to look around the world or on social media to be reminded of why it's so vital to stay the course. We are witnessing the playing out in the media today (and possibly in our own lives) all the unresolved emotional pain and scars that men and women haven't dealt with yet from various points within their lives (the inner chaos and turmoil we don't realize we've got running the show). We have a world of walking wounded-ness expressing itself that now spills and spews out through hate-speak, scorn, condemnation, judgment, ridicule, projection, lack of tolerance, finger-pointing, lack of responsibility or ownership and so much more. This is exactly one of the reasons I continue to move diligently through my own spiritual and personal development and evolution, maintaining focus on not only doing better, but being better. I want to take responsibility for my life, my emotions and my creating. And by doing so, I can help instill this within my son as he traverses his life.
Our ancestors, our history and our past can be helpful information, but that does not mean that it gets to, or should, dictate or determine what will work best for us now and in the future. That is for each of us to personally explore and decide. The world is about evolution, progress and new - more - different. Including and especially how we parent. While I may be an "accidental" advocate for a new parenting paradigm, I want to help cultivate youth to stay close to and adhere to their natural well-being, vitality, vibrancy and their pure infinite potential; not having to "course correct" as much because of conditioning and outdated modeling. Imagining and envisioning a world consciously functioning from love, happiness, compassion, self-realization and actualization paints a very different reality for us all and that's the stuff that lights me up.
Rhonda Burns is a Coach, Catalyst & Champion for Spiritual Development, specializing in conscious communication practices. Catalyzing & Cultivating a new breed of Soul-Inspired, Intuitive Power-Players, Rhonda helps you get to the soul identify of you, so you can be in the business of creating a life that works on your soul-fulfilling terms. You are invited to book a complimentary discovery session today.
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