We have been exposed to (whether we like it or not) explorers of yesteryear. Stories of great journeys across the sea, courageous men ‘finding’ already inhabited lands, the brutal history being passed down to many a generation. We have all sat hunched over a textbook whilst simultaneously inhaling a B.O infused classroom. We listened to an underpaid, pre-menopausal teacher with sensible shoes and an equal hatred for her pupils. We learned about men sailing the seven seas, navigating lands they were not familiar with, and murdering people they had just met. We imagined the terrain, the maps that would have been developed off the back of these expeditions and we really lapped it all up.
2019 and one thing that I have learned is the navigation of a landmass has NOTHING over navigating a relationship with an ex-partner especially when a child is involved. In a ‘perfect’ world the moment the couple splits, finances are halved, and the decree absolute is signed, you both go on your merry way skipping off into the sunset. However, when a child is involved, flesh and blood, half of you and half of them, navigation will become tricky.
There are no books; no advice, no PowerPoint presentation, and no alcoholic beverage strong enough to dull the pain. Each day parents navigate emotions that have not been let out, they navigate small conversation at the door, they navigating the fake smiles at parents evening and they navigate their hands to not throttle one another. I am not writing this for pity, I am writing this that hopefully there will be some sort of manual that can be written, used, and thrown away once the eighteenth birthday hits, so I too can skip into the fucking sunset.
How do you navigate extended families and their already drawn battle lines? Volcanic bile that is spat into the air by a well-meaning aunt or uncle, how do you stop the child absorbing and eventually becoming all that is being said?
Extended families who believe that their child is an amazing parent and the other a devil. The onslaught of toxic points of view can muddy the waters whilst raising a well-adjusted child, the manipulation of a small innocent brain, the blank canvas that now has dark splodges ending with “your mum is a …or your dad is this….
How do you navigate a parent that projects passed hurt? How do you navigate a parent who will simultaneously throw their toys out the pram with their beloved child? How do you navigate the other parent questioning your motives?
The funny thing is children grow and become adults. These very children will have to navigate their own relationships hopefully better than their parents before them. Walking all over this land are children who have crossed battle lines to get safely to the other side. They are now adults some with visible scars, some hidden within them. They are judges, schoolteachers, nurses, electricians, plumbers, and humans.
I have a child that listens intently to everything I say his mannerisms and little quips are so much like me. Does he listen to my frustrations? Often when on a diet you will hear the saying ‘ a moment on the lips a lifetime on the hips’ I often think where a parent is concerned, ‘ a moment on the lips a lifetime entangled in a child’s brain’.
There must be a manual somewhere, a map of some sort. Millions of people have made this journey safely and not crashed upon the rocks of guilt, or torn their sails on bad decisions. They have boldly kept on course sailing the seven seas of estranged parents, and the children have survived. So where is this manual? Give it to me so that I may read from it and learn, give it to me so that I can pass it on to someone like me who needs guidance. I just want to get to the other side.