The hardest thing about divorce can boil down to sharing your child with the ex. It can feel like a part of you is missing an arm, a leg -- a piece (peace) of your heart. It's a challenge for your child as well, and all we can do is love our child and ourselves enough to move through the feelings of loss and create a new way of being. It's called "independence" from our old way of being, a restructuring and redesigning of the framework we held dear in marriage (if that's where we came from).
What we can do, as single parents sharing custody, is be the best we can be while we have our children with us, and be the best we can be for ourselves when we're sans children. In other words, learn to take care of our own selves once again. How do we do this? Are the methods stored somewhere in our cells? Can we actually learn to be women and men outside of our mother and father roles? Yes, I know we can and once we get the hang of it -- we can start enjoying it too! And, so can our children. Children don't want to feel guilty or sad when they leave us to go to the other parent's house (that sad look on our faces doesn't help their separation process either).
So, as we get used to and acquainted with, the new lifestyle we have, our children will also adapt and adopt new ways of living with the two parents they have. For those single parents who say goodbye to their children every other weekend, this may be less traumatic -- but still an issue in letting go and an opportunity to create a life for oneself (whether it means a time to date, take up a hobby, travel, or read a good book).
Being a single parent is defined as being a multi-tasking responsible parent in today's world and being a single adult in this new millennium, neither of which are no small feat. Don’t forget to get all the emotional support you can get by joining groups, networking with other parents, learning who is a single parent in your neighborhood or school district.
Remember, you were single before, try and tap into that memory (ouch) and recall where the solace was. Did you write, did you go out with other friends in your situation, did you exercise more, did you join a dating service? It's important to treat yourself like you would your child when she is in need, take good care of YOU when you have the free time to do it. Your child will thank you for it when she sees how much happier you are. Jodi Seidler is the founder of the single parent site MakingLemonade.com and the author of ""Making Lemonade: A Guidebook for Life After Divorce," and "55 Things Every Divorcing Mom Should Know!" Her advice has also made it to TV talk shows, such as: "Inside Edition"and "Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus." Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.