The best celebrations are the ones you least expect and for that reason I've taken to celebrating on "off" days rather than the "real" ones. This might seem strange to some but to those accustomed to co-parenting you might understand the notion a bit better. Co-parenting struggles or not, I find that "off" days are more relaxed and so much more enjoyable, there's less stress, the ease of planning without a forced deadlines and, let's be honest, less expectations, which ALWAYS helps when it comes to big milestone occasions or holidays.
It all started when I was first separated and had to figure out an organization method to appease my entire family (holidays are especially pain in the ass-y) as well as my co-parent parameters for such occasions. After a couple of years full of stressful, hurried Christmas dinners and delayed or rushed Easter egg hunts, I decided it was all or nothing, either the kids would enjoy the holiday in its entirety with me or I'd simply have to concede the day. But then it dawned on me, there are certain days when the actual date doesn't matter all that much, Father's Day, Thanksgiving, even graduation celebrations. So began the tradition of non-traditional celebration days. If I didn't have the girls for Easter Sunday, we did a fish fry on Good Friday, if is it wasn't my scheduled Thanksgiving Thursday, we arranged a huge Sunday after Thanksgiving brunch, no time for grandfathers and stepdad on father's day, not a problem, we made it a whole other day in our family. Our tradition of non-tradition took form and the family was able to truly enjoy each other as the pressure was off in terms of which house who went where. By following my non-traditions my family would simply plan to go to their other commitments on days I didn't have my girls and made every effort to all be in attendance on the days that were mine. The only drawback, all the extra calories from, more often than not, celebrating each occasion more than once (like 3-4 birthday cakes per occasion kind of more than once).
When my Sophie's high school graduation was upon us, I was able to plan surprise celebration a whole two months AFTER her graduation and just in time for her dorm move-in without anyone finding it strange. We enjoyed her actual ceremony date at leisure without the stress of family time scheduling, we travelled for our mom/daughter grad trip tradition, sorted out what she needed for her dorm, created a registry and then I surprised her with a little "Taco 'bout a future" themed fiesta. No co-parenting time constraints, no deadlines, no conflicting work schedules, just fun and family. It was perfect!
Even though our entire family has "graduated" from the co-parenting constraints being that my two girls from my previous marriage are aged out of all that, we plan to continue the tradition as to facilitate everyone's needs and the sometimes demanding requirements of other families (in-laws, parents and such). So when we have our date to celebrate or commemorate, it is a time where we can kick back, soak in the occasion and truly enjoy each other's company without having to cut it short to get to someone else's house or feeling squeezed to get it all in in one day. We take the time to celebrate the times and give actual time the middle finger, taco 'bout a party every time. ;)
Many believe that you are an adult once you turn 18yrs of age but, like many others, I beg to defer.
Going into a co-parenting agreement typically means sorting the ins and outs of how you both agree to parent your child till the age of eighteen or once they graduate from high school. In my case, we actually mediated the agreement with signed legal work and attorneys taking everything into consideration from holiday travel days to extra-curriculars, (paid a pretty penny for that document too...ah, attorneys...). I soon found out that one signed document wouldn't quite cover everything that parenting with a person who does not share your household (or many ideals, hence the divorce in the first place) requires. I took matters into my own hands for the second piece of paper drawing from the State of Texas family courts database and conducted a "co-parenting" coffee meeting with all the parties involved. This new document covered issues that were not a matter of livelihood as much as they were a matter of parenting preferences like piercings, driving ages, curfews and grounding rules that could carryon from one house to the other enabling follow-through and consistent discipline rules (which is crucial factor at the tween/teen stage). When frustrations run high for a co-parent you often hear, "thank goodness you only have XX years left to have to deal with it" but that's not necessarily true.
When one begins to go through the motions of a divorce with children one does so with hope of a better future for all in their heart. Dreaming of the day when things are good enough to share special occasions like birthdays and holidays together, like a modern day family. Dreaming of the picture perfect step-parents for the kids, family portraits with four smiling adults and a mix of kids who claim to share siblings although they cant' quite explain how, everything will be better, it has to work out for the better, there is this hope that in not being together the things that didn't work for all involved while married will somehow sort itself out once divorced. People will mature, grow, give more, understand, cooperate, be happy. The problem is that it doesn't quite work that way, the nuisances that persisted in marriage continue to present themselves time and time again, mostly in the worst of times. The couple is still connected through and by the children while they make their lives apart, adding spouses, other children, other grandparents, "aunts" and "uncles", new friends with new advice, changing careers, moving to new homes and new cities, all while juggling their children in between, "always thinking, it's only till their 18, then it's done", no more answering or explaining to anybody, no more shared costs, no more scheduling, no more vacation and holiday interruptions, no more discussions or arguments, no more dealing with someone who I divorced all that time ago.
My girls are now both officially above the age delegated by my co-parenting agreement and I can attest to the fact that the idea of "no more" is itself no more. I've come to the realization that co-parenting is forever contract, one that persists, complicates and pushes the limits of one's parenting mentality constantly even with "adult" children. In fact, I've made some sort of peace with the notion that I will also have to co-grandparent one day (as if the opinions of your in-laws aren't enough when raising a kid imagine two sets of in-laws possibly on both sides?!). Co-parenting doesn't end at age 18 just like parenting doesn't end there either. Take heed, the moment you decide to bring life forth into this world you are agreeing to parent that little person in one capacity or another together forever.
Multi-tasking over-thinker that is, as you can imagine, often running late.