Raising children after a divorce or separation can be complicated enough. But how do the dynamics change if you've left your husband for a woman? Candace Walsh and Laura André, the editors of Dear John, I Love Jane—a collection of essays by women who have left men for other woman—know a thing or two about the complexity of such a co-parenting arrangement.
Candace had left her husband of seven years and started dating women when Laura met her on Match.com. While Laura never expected to have children of her own, Candace had two of them. How does co-parenting work for them? Surprisingly, it's not as complicated as you'd think.
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Candace: It's so funny that I'm writing about co-parenting right now, since my ex-husband is on a two-month trip through Asia. Currently, we are not co-parenting at all. Laura, my partner, and I are omni-parenting. We're it: that place where the buck stops.
When Peter is here in Santa Fe, we co-parent 50/50. In many ways, it's the best of both worlds: the kids have lots of time with both of us, and the parents get some time off. I want the children to have a strong relationship with their dad, and he has always been a hands-on parent, so it made sense to divvy up the custody that way.
On the other hand, there's something lovely about having the kids all the time. It's kind of mellow not to have to send emails, texts and messages reminding their dad about mittens, permission slips, and that our daughter needs to assemble a bundle that weighs exactly 7.5 lbs, her birth weight, because her third grade class is learning about weights and measures. And I definitely love sending my kids to school without saying "Don't leave that (fill in the blank) at your dad's, because you're not going to see him for five days."
So far, we've held down the fort for three weeks. It's not like I'm patting myself on the back—most parents don't have half of every week to enjoy the silence. And many single parents don't co-parent, which combines the stressful effect of being the only parent with the lack of downtime.
Laura: Before I met Candace, I thought I had chosen a life without children, and I was content with that. Falling in love with Candace meant having to confront not only my fear of children; it also meant letting go of my life as I thought it would look like. So while I never left a man for a woman, I did have to switch my identity to someone who goes to children's music recitals and ice skating lessons, and that made me more receptive to the "Oh my God, I can't believe this is happening to me" emotion that so many of our writers express.
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