I grew up believing that I could do and be anything I wanted. Not in a dessert-before-dinner-stay-up-past-midnight way, but in a you-control-your-destiny way. My parents raised the three of us grounded in the understanding that we could achieve any goal we worked toward.
They actively encouraged our possibilities: like dissecting the frog in Biology? Perhaps you want to be a doctor. Interested in chorus? Let’s explore what career musicians do. Want to be a princess? The Prince of Monaco is single.
This, of course, isn’t entirely true. As an adult, I see where I was limited, by resources or talent or inclination. It was a powerful concept, though.
The idea that the only thing separating me from what I wanted was learning new information and a little hard work shaped my life.
I became a voracious learner. My father described me as uniquely persistent in the third grade, a badge of honor I wear proudly to this day. I’m not sure he meant it wholly a compliment. I’ve never paid very much attention to what’s in my way, confident that a little research and elbow grease will remove any obstacle. That last part is more foolish that brave, but it’s the truth.
That belief that my future was mine for the shaping worked well for me early in my life. I checked all the boxes: graduated top of my class in high school, went to college, got a job, bought a house, had a baby. Check, check, check. I used my magic formula of learning and action for each of those things and never looked back.
Until the record scratch of my divorce.
I knew we weren’t happy. I researched and worked and learned about partnership and love as a choice and kept trying, confident I could save our marriage. But my formula didn’t work.
I tried harder, working alone with a counselor who once told me quietly that I might be pathologically optimistic. Like the frantic young doctor performing CPR on his first patient on a television drama, I was trying to breathe life into something everyone else knew was long dead.
The loss of our first family was paralyzing. The loss of my magic formula for achieving possibility shook my foundation. Our coming apart was noisy and chaotic, filled with anger and hurt.
I was lost.
I felt like a failure as a wife and a mother. I felt like I’d learned and tried and failed. I couldn’t fix us and now I was sure I couldn’t control what came next. I gave up. I spent a long time just reacting: reacting to the loss, reacting to my ex, reacting to the emotion I felt.
I knew I wanted us to be coparenting partners. I knew I wanted the children in a healthy, loving environment. And I knew what we were doing, reacting to each other, reacting to this loss, wasn’t going to get us there.
I felt hopeless and out of control.
But everyone who’s ever dreamed repeatedly she’s fumbling anxiously with a locker combination on the first day of middle school knows that the experiences you have early shape your life.
Slowly, I began to think about my learn it, do it options. I began to make room for the possibility that while I hadn’t succeeded in my marriage, I could succeed in this new post-married parenting reality.
I began to research coparenting and blended families.
Years ago, very little existed in the mainstream, so I turned to academic research. I consumed information voraciously, about divorce resilience in children and the effects of conflict and stress, and what was controllable. I expanded my research into divorce grief and the power of story and the biology of negative habit. I read everything I could find.
As I learned more and more, I began to shift my behaviors. Not because I wanted something different in the beginning, but because I now had a broader perspective. I knew that thinking about my ex negatively would form a habit. I knew that telling myself I had no control would just perpetuate this reactive cycle. I knew my children could heal.
Now, years later, I am grounded in the foundation of my youth once more. I no longer believe that everything is simply a matter of learning and action, of course. I’m not an Olympic gymnast or a princess.
But I do firmly believe that many things that seem impossible are simply a matter of learning and action.
Remember teaching your child to ride a bike? He fell often. He didn’t always like it. But if he kept getting up, he eventually learned to ride. Today, as he heads down your street it’s hard to remember how wildly he wobbled.
Remember that old poem about the little girl eating the whale? It’s not that she can’t eat the whale, it’s just that it might take her a long time. She’ll have to start small.
I get hundreds of letters a month from parents just like me who want to do what’s best for their children. Who think coparenting is impossible. Who are stuck in the messy middle of reaction and grief and story.
I tell each of them the same thing: it’s not that we can’t coparent. It’s that we never learned how.
The Total Coparenting Transformation course is my love letter to those parents.
It is the culmination of years of research and study. It is the step-by-step method I used to restore my faith in myself as a mother and build a positive relationship with my children’s father. It’s the combination of information and action that changed my life and the lives of my children. It’s the proven, simple way I learned to parent positively after my divorce.
I wrote the course to help other parents in my situation. I wrote it because I didn’t want others to face the same obstacles I did. I wrote it because I realized what took me years could be condensed into much less time. I wrote it as a guide to other coparents lost in the cycle of reaction and emotion.
You can buy the course here, if you like. It doesn’t matter to me if you do or don’t. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s the truth.
What matters to me is that you believe you can create the change you want. That you can learn to coparent in the face of betrayal and hurt and narcissism and the rest of the truckload of baggage we all face on this journey.
You can coparent successfully. It’s just a new skill. It requires learning and action. It will be hard, and uncomfortable. You’ll get a bit banged up in the process. But you can do it. You’re not alone.