‘I called my ex. ‘You’re the one with sole custody, it’s your problem.’ The fact is, in this time of uncertainty, we are both her parents.’: Woman encourages co-parents to ‘work together and set differences aside’ during Coronavirus

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“If this had happened a year ago or even 6 months ago, I would have a very different narrative on how this is going.

At about 11 p.m. on March 12, 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, ‘in an abundance of caution’ closed all schools statewide. She did not mandate that preschools and childcare centers closed. At the time, they were saying little kids aren’t carriers of COVID-19 and couldn’t get it. I thought we would be in the clear for my 4-year-old to continue going to Pre-K.

I was wrong. By the time my alarm went off on Friday morning, I had received an email from the superintendent. The preschool she goes to is run and operated by our school district and closed along with all of the other schools in the district. The kids would all have one last day of school on Friday and then they will be closed for a month. So, there I was at 5:15 a.m. trying to figure out what I would do with my very active 4-year-old for the next month.

To offer some background, I was granted sole physical custody of my daughter when she was only 1 and a half years old. My ex had some issues at the time and on top of those issues, he was very verbally and emotionally abusive to me. When I left, I was newly pregnant with our second child and ended up miscarrying shortly after I left him, probably from all the stress. He had his parenting time every other Saturday and Sunday during the day but no overnights. He isn’t allowed to drive with her. He has been turning everything around though and has been for a good while now, and in the last 2 months, he has started overnights with our daughter on his weekends. Our daughter comes back home to me very happy and says she had a great time when she is there for the weekend. I know she would tell me if something was off (she’s kind of a snitch). She comes home well-fed, clean, and having had a bath both nights she is there. I figure, he may have been a real piece of work when we were together, but if he’s changing for our daughter and she is happy and taken care of, that’s really all I can ask for.

I waited until I was on my way to work and called my ex. I fully prepared myself for the same old BS he would give me before when I’ve asked him for help. ‘You’re the one with sole custody, it’s your problem.’ ‘Why should I miss work when you have them taking child support right out of my check and I barely make money as it is?’

I’ve literally heard it all. But I decided to give him a chance to help.

After all, this is an unprecedented situation we have found ourselves in and I hoped he would take that into consideration before blowing me off. When he picked up the phone, I was surprised to learn he had been laid off a month before the Coronavirus took off in the US. I never knew because he continued to pay the child support online every week. He was more than happy to take our daughter for me while I still had to go to work. I was incredibly grateful.

Fast forward two days to Sunday and the grocery stores were pretty much bare. Forget about toilet paper and paper towels, unless you woke up early enough to stand in line for the doors to open. Most of the food was gone, too. I walked into the Kroger to find that they were out of eggs, milk, and most of their meat and poultry as well. I grabbed the few packages of the boneless chicken they had left. Basically, all of their shelf-stable items like noodles and marinara sauce were gone, too. I bought the last two packages of yogurt tubes and juice boxes they had left. I bought some fruit and went home. I tried another Kroger store and found them to be just as bare, but I bought the little bit they had, too.

The next morning, I took my daughter over to my ex’s house. He told me he had similar difficulties finding the bare minimum necessities at the stores and was trying not to have to run around too much because he’s scared of exposing his dad (who he lives with). His dad currently has no immune system, as he is going through treatments for lung cancer. I brought some food, some gloves, and a couple of N95 respirator masks to my ex.

Someone close to me asked why I was sharing supplies with my ex who ‘never did sh*t for me when we were together.’ That might be true, but to me, the answer should be obvious and is very simple: I have a vested interest in my ex (and his father’s) wellbeing, as their wellbeing directly impacts my daughter’s wellbeing. If my ex or even worse, his dad, become ill with this Coronavirus, it could possibly expose my daughter, who has asthma and is at a higher risk for complications. It could possibly cause my daughter to lose her grandfather prematurely, as my ex’s dad would almost certainly die from Coronavirus. If they don’t have enough food because people are buying out the stores, they can’t feed my daughter enough during the day and they can’t feed themselves to make sure they are staying as healthy as they can be right now.

The fact is, we are both her parents. We were both thrown into this horrific mess, and not by our own choice. In this time of uncertainty and fear, I choose to make sure my ex, who is helping me continue to be able to collect my paycheck, has what he needs.

I realize every situation is different and some of you reading this might not be as lucky as I am that my ex finally got his head out of his ass. But for those of you who are, work together! There is nothing any of us can do about the situation we are in except to try and make it the least bad as it needs to be. It’s bad enough out there as it is. I haven’t felt this much anxiety and uncertainty about the future since 9/11 happened. I was only in third grade at the time but I remember all too well that uncertain feeling. Would we be attacked again? Would war break out?

There is a lot that will happen as a result of Coronavirus that is out of our control. We can, however, control how we co-parent. We need to work together with our exes as much as possible during this time. They may hate you, or hate your new significant other, etc. But we’re parents together, and at a time like this, we need to set our differences aside and work together to come out of this as undamaged as possible. I hope everyone can get through this unscathed. Stay safe!”

Courtesy S.W.

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by S.W. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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