Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The concept of sharing

C's ability to share thus far, at the precious age of almost 16 months, is to outstretch his hand, item firmly grasped, offering for you touch the prized possession in a way that would make you think that he's going to actually hand it over. As soon as you are effectively fooled by his offering, he'll swiftly withdraw the item back towards his body in a protective clutch with facial expressions and a twinkle in his eye that clearly convey thoughts of "Gotchya!" on his end.  He recognizes the phrase "Can you share?" and this is his attempt at doing so when prompted. He obviously still needs more practice.

He isn't the only one.

Most children need to practice sharing things because it is natural and instinctive to want to keep things for yourself.  Most schools teach turn taking and teamwork to enforce the concept and instill the value of sharing. The institution of sharing is usually high on the list of priorities of most parents when it comes to teaching good principals to their kids.  Yadda, yadda, yadda ... when we share we all get a chance at something and our lives are more pleasant and productive ... yadda, yadda, yadda ... it is better to be giving and sharing with others makes us happy. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

I do not want to share my child.

I do not want to have to divide holidays and birthdays and soon, every third weekend.  Sure, it will be nice to have a free babysitter now and again, but I don't want to have to share C with anyone if I don't really want to on any one particular day. Not even his own family. And I am ashamed to say, not even with his own father.

But that is the honest truth.

Some child psychology experts speculate that toddlers like C have such difficulty understanding the concept of sharing because they can't see things from another person's perspective. Their brain development isn't advanced enough that early on in the game to really grasp the concept of empathy, so naturally the concept of sharing befuddles them too.  As they grow, if parents and other like-minded adults challenge toddlers to flex their little empathy muscles through development of awareness of their own feelings and how they impact the feelings of others, the concept of sharing becomes natural and desirable by preschool age, instead of forced and done only when they're being told to do so.

If I take that knowledge and apply it to my own adult resistance with sharing and how it applies to co-parenting and separation/divorce, I guess I need to learn how to have some empathy for the STBX and the ex-laws. It seems impossible right now. I'm having a very hard time seeing things from their point of view. I do not understand where they are coming from.

I especially don't understand the STBX or where he is coming from. Ever. 99% of the time. I don't understand him because, unlike him, I am not a narcissist. As we go through this divorce process and try to carve out parenting time for the both of us, and visitation for C with his paternal grandparents etc., while I'm generally governed by my obligations as a single working mother trying to do what is best of for our son, the STBX seems to be governed by his feelings alone and he is continually only thinking about what is best for him, over what is best for C. It is infuriating. And mind boggling. And exactly why it has been over 3 months since we legally separated and C hasn't seen his dad once. No court order has been put into place, although both sides are feverishly working on sealing the deal soon. I do not want to receive my attorney's next bill in the mail. My palms start sweating just thinking about it.

The STBX is angry and in turn has been dragging his heals through this process as his way of dealing with his anger. He let his anger rule over the holidays instead of getting things done to set up time with C for Christmas. It was heartbreaking for everyone involved, even me. As much as I didn't want to share C per se, it broke my heart that he didn't see his Dad for Christmas. The angry STBX would never be able to see that emotion coming from my side.  He established early on in our marriage his inability to be empathetic towards me.

He is angry, but over what exactly, well I am not so sure anymore. He may still be angry that I left. He is probably angry that I have custody. It really doesn't matter, I guess because he is just plain old angry. I can see this emotion's firm grasp over him every single time we have communication (by e-mail only, I won't discuss things with him on the phone any more). Just because I can see the emotion and am impacted by it, doesn't mean I understand it. I don't want to share our child with someone who is so angry in a way that I don't understand.  It scares me. It makes me nervous. It freaks me the fuck out.  I am very unsure if the STBX has the ability to own up to his obligations to shield C from emotional heartache, his adult issues and inappropriate stories of how and why we are getting divorced.

Soon enough, I'm going to be forced to share C with him anyway. I am hoping that it goes smoothly and that with time and practice, I'll get better at it. In the mean time, I'm going to continue to try and see things from the STBX's perspective. Try to have empathy for the narcissistic co-parent as much as it may drive me bananas. It is our son's only hope at normalcy as he learns to share his time between his Mom and Dad at the precious age of one and a half.

I vow to learn all I can about having a healthy attitude re: sharing my most precious gift in the world with the one person I don't trust as far as I could throw. I have a feeling it will be my greatest challenge yet. I know in my gut that the greatest lesson of all that I can teach C is to have empathy for others and the best way I can do that is to myself practice empathy for both him and his Dad no matter how hard it is. Hopefully, he'll learn by my example and he'll learn to be the most giving happy-go-lucky sharer on the playground. Fingers crossed.


  1. What a beautiful, heartfelt post. You articulate things so beautifully, Phenom.

  2. Awe thank you! Blushing over here with the praise :)

  3. I get it. I had to send Otter back to daycare this morning after having the long, wonderful weekend with him. I hate it so much I could spit.
    You are doing a wonderful job with C and are being an absolutely amazing role model for him. If I am half the mom you are, I've done a good job. C is so lucky to have you!!

  4. OMG, thank you! I have the daycare issue on top of sharing C with his "other" family so it is totally the hardest thing ever. First 3-day visitation (no overnights just yet, but 3 long days away from me with just the nights to catch up) is the weekend after next. I am taking a couple of work day's off here and there this month just to have the extra time with him.

  5. C will be more-comfortable and confident for the work you're doing. I also divorced a narciccist and he and his gf are still angry at me and still blame me for the fact that the kids don't want to visit him or talk to him on the phone. (they hate him because he forced GF and her girls smack between himself and his sons). At least your son will grow up with you providing the main support!


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