Challenges in Coparenting

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Nicole Walters Podcast

The Nicole Walters Podcast

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Friend, it’s been nearly 10 years since I adopted my girls from a Baltimore city street. Those 10 years have been full of so many highs and lows but with them, with my girls, nothing is missing.

Even after all this time, I’m still navigating feelings because when you love, you feel, right? This episode is about those feelings and how co-parenting is going over here.

Thank you for taking time to hear me today, as you always do sweet friend. Jump in the DMs @‌NicoleWalters and let me know what you’re dealing with and how parenting is going over there. I can’t wait to chat.

 

Nicole:

Hey, friends. So this is a really fun one, because I am actually chatting with you, you know, I know that you may be in the car outside of target, grocery shopping, who knows, you know, you guys are always doing something fun when I’m in your ear, and I really cherish the time we get to spend together. But for today’s chat, I’m actually chatting with you, from my guy the Misterfella’s studio. Now typically, I make the trek down to the Dear Media Network Studios in Los Angeles whenever I try to have these chats. But there have been times where I’m not even kidding, I have done these tracks from my closet, using a microphone that I got off Amazon, in between sweaters. And it’s really great, you know, to have a fellow who’s or a fancy pants producer, because he can handle everything from my podcast and my audiobook to my trap gospel album coming in 2030. Listen, you’ve heard it here first.

<laughs>

But realistically, it’s just really nice because, you know, God’s made sure that there’s nothing that stands in the way of us having our time together every week. So I appreciate you being here, because I’ve got a story for you. And this is something that I can honestly tell you, I’ve waited a really long time to address and to talk about. And it’s because it has something to do with my kids, you know, and you all know exactly how I feel about the girls, because frankly, you feel this way about the girls, we are protective of our children, we care about their stories. And we also want to give respect to all parties involved so that they have room to tell their stories on their own. And a large part of that is why in my book, which is available for pre-sale now my memoir, nothing is missing, you can grab it anywhere books are sold, I’ve actually chosen to dive pretty deep in the story of my girls from my, you know, side of things. The story of growing up building a business, all of that, because, you know, I’ve said before, there are a lot of things that deserve pages, you know, and not just a couple of captions, you know, on social media, but I do want to start touching on a few things, as I have been here.

So I’ve talked about my health concerns. I’ve talked about my divorce and some of the issues I ran into in my marriage. You know, I’ve kept it high level, but there is something that I’ve actually never spoken about anywhere and we’re gonna chat about it here today. So this week, I unexpectedly, I suppose, I had a call from my girls bio mom. And we call her the bio Mom, we always have, you know, I’ve had my girls for 10 years now, if you’re just popping in and listening to this one for the very first time, go back to episode one of season one of the Nicole Walters podcast, where I tell you the story of how I became a mom, you know, too long didn’t read, I adopted my girls from the side of a Baltimore City street after knowing them for 30 days.

And that was 10 years ago, I am in all ways, shapes and forms, you know, Mama through and through. And, you know, the little ones that were 3, 11 and 14 are now 11, 21 and 24. So, all that being said over those 10 years, you know, I have made a point of allowing my kids bio mom to not just maintain her privacy, but to act out and live her journey. And I’m not really sure much about her, you know, I’ve never shared her name or her face. I’ve never shared any details about her, or, you know, her background outside of the fact that she was struggling with addiction. And that, you know, she, in my personal opinion, you know, was a victim and succumb to sort of societal structure and systemic processes that are in place that really did not aid and support her in recovery from her trauma, as well as recovery from her addiction because addiction is a disease.

And instead, you know, she’s spent a lot of time incarcerated and trying to pick up her life thereafter. And, you know, we partnered in raising these sweet girls, because I was in a situation where I you know, fortunately did not have to battle disease of addiction, you know, and I fortunately I was younger and you know, just had God positioned me to be able to be in a place to be a mother to these girls in the conventional sense. But there’s one thing I always want to say and that I want to say here now, their mother is always their mother. And it’s weird to say that out loud, because I love my babies so much. I literally don’t even know what I don’t know what it’s like to carry kids biologically. But I think I’ve said before that, if giving birth to your own kids is 100%, then I love my babies 99.999. Because I just I don’t want to take away from what that connection that process is to have your blood flowing through your baby’s veins. But I just I don’t know if I can love them more than I do. I love them more than life.

And for that reason, I really, and truly have always really respected and had the deepest love for their mother. Now, I’d be lying and you guys know how transparent I tried to be here. If I didn’t say that our relationship over the past 10 years has had its highs and lows. And I think any adoptive mother out there any foster mom, I mean, heck, anybody who’s gone through divorce and had to co parent with a difficult or non-present or neglectful parent can relate to this as well, you know, or a parent who has mental health issues or addiction or whatever, you know, I think anyone who has had to share parenting in a place where you must listen to another person who you feel may not be as readily helpful for whatever reason, can understand that there are major frustrations that can come with that journey and that process over years.

Particularly because and mamas you know this, kids are kind of formulaic, am I right? I mean, the only thing is that once you think you figured out the formula changes. So you know, you know that in the beginning, it’s eat, sleep, poop, you know, all the normal things, you know, entertainment, that it becomes, teach them a couple of things, manners, society, things, you know, clothing, habits, life things. And then it becomes teach them a little bit of social interactions, things like that, then it becomes you know, okay, we’re late teens or early 20s. How do you want to show up in the world? What does that look like for you? You know, how are we going to apply the things you’ve learned?

So needless to say, you know, things change, and you hope you keep up. And you also hope you get to battle against, you know, the exposures they may have from the rest of the world. But nevertheless, you know, it’s understood that there are certain things that must happen in order to have healthy functioning children. And when you co-parent, you know, which I guess is probably a version of what I was I did in the especially in the very early stages, early stages meaning about 30 days, you know, with my kids’ bio mom, you know, it’s hard to have a parent that may not understand or have the capabilities for whatever reason to do that as well, to follow those systems and follow those processes.

And I have to say, you know, my kids bio Mom, I am so impressed by her. And I admire her, because more than anything, she did something that I can easily say I would never do. I would never do it. I could never, in a million years, give my babies to anyone, ever. And it’s crazy because, again, you know, I’m not battling some of the things she’s having. But I will never question if she loved or loves her children. She does. She loves all three of her babies very, very much. She has done her very best, her very best since day one with whatever situation she was in personally, whatever she was battling personally in that moment to show up in the way best suited to that.

So, you know, it’s so interesting, because I think that it’s common that whenever people hear about situations where an addict has to give up their children or a mother who isn’t capable, in whatever season to parent her children, they really want to demonize that other parent. And I gotta tell you that for me, it’s far worse when you are a healthy able bodied adult who is or was involved in a child’s life and you opt not to participate any longer. And there’s nothing wrong with you and you don’t have anything going on. You’re just choosing not to. That’s really what needs to be demonized, you know, it’s the healthy parent who has chosen to, you know, for whatever reason, selfish or, you know, personal to just not participate in their child’s life. That is something that I think our society should be shaming, and there’s tons of that, you know, everywhere you look, right?

But when you talk about the parent who you know, really just isn’t able to participate because their addiction has taken them over. But they do what they can to put their kid where they where they’re going to be safe and where they’re going to have enough. You know, I just really always want to celebrate that in her. And, and I can tell you, you know, one of the questions that often came up was, is she still involved in their life? I get that question 24/7. And I have to tell you, she’s always been around, you know, and around, meaning, sometimes it might be a longer gap of time, you know, anywhere from a couple months to years. Other times, we may hear from her regularly as every week, you know, and of course, we’re going to be realistic, you know, some of these things have to do with sobriety, or they have to do with finances, or they have to do with the amount of trauma or scenarios that are in front of her that she also has to juggle whether it’s her own health or, you know, death or other things, you know, and I can tell you one thing that has always made it very clear to me that she loves her children when she is in her healthiest space, is that her baseline is her babies.

Whenever she is well, she wants to be involved with, see her babies, interact. And, you know, I have to tell you, even the way she interacts with you know, our littlest one, and I say our because you know, she’s we’re moms together, you know, our littlest one is that she is interested in her. And you’ve heard me say this before, that whenever we wonder if we’re good enough parents, if we’re showing up enough, if we care enough, if we love enough, you know, the one thing that we have to remember is that if we’re interested in our babies, then that is that is a good place to start.

Do you want to know what’s going on with them? Do you want to know how they’re doing? Do we want to know who their friends are? Do we want to know what music they listen to? We may not like or care, right? We may not be Swifties ourselves? Come on, let’s stop lying. We’re all Swifties <laughs> we may not be interested in doing every tick tock video or tick tock dance or whatever these kids are doing but the truth is, you know, we still are interested in what’s going on with them because we know that’s what shapes them.

And I can tell you that my kids bio mom is very much that, you know, she asked questions about their school because she still tries to call as frequently if she is able, you know, how are they doing in school and you know, how’s Daya doing with her recovery, my eldest and you know, is Chrissy doing well in college and, you know, does Ali, you know, like her dance project as she remembers things, you know, the best she can and when she does visit, you know, and I can tell you, she shows up more than I’ve heard some divorced dads, you know, show up in kids lives. I mean, she really does her best. And she will always have a little gift, you know, whatever she can do, if she remembers Ali saying that she loves to crochet, she’s gonna bring some yarn for her, you know, and it may not be something that kids can understand and recognize as much until they get older.

But as a mother, I definitely can see, those things mean that your baby is on your mind, even when your baby isn’t in front of you or in your home. And that thoughtfulness is something that is healing, and it’s good for the child. And it’s why, you know, I’ve always made a point to keep her around, you know, and I mean, and I don’t have to, you know, just to be transparent, you know, as the mother of my babies, you know, legally, you know, and spiritually, you know, I don’t have to, we don’t have any formalized rules around that. But we choose to, you know, we choose to be a family. And I’ve always seen it, and I’ve always expressed it, especially to my little one, that we’re lucky because more people in your life to love you as a better thing. You’ve never lost, you only gain, you’ve got multiple mommies and multiple daddies, and lots of dogs and multiple homes.

And just you are just a girl who’s so loved and so wanted, that just everybody wants a piece, you know, because you’re just the greatest and it’s really been a blessing, particularly for our little one. Now, I will also again, counter that with addiction is difficult. And I don’t want to minimize that for anyone who’s listening and has suffered the trauma and the repercussions of having either a parent with addiction or a partner with addiction or mental health issues. You know, my older daughters have and I also am saying this just in case my older daughters are listening to this or listened to this later. And I always want to honor their experience as well and validate it. They’ve seen and experienced things they never should have gone through. And some of that’s addiction, some of that’s trauma, all of it is choices. And my daughter’s, my older girls, you know, unfortunately have lived through things that people only have nightmares about. And it’s heart wrenching, it’s sad, and as you know their mom Oh, my God, if I wish I could take it all I would in a heartbeat. I’d carry it for them.

But I know that their mom still loves them. And I still allow them as they’re older, you know, out of full respect and honor to what I have not witnessed and been part of, to dictate the nature of the relationship they want with their mother. But it’s just been a real blessing to serve, as you know, and I’m grateful for it, honestly, it’s been 10 years. I don’t know what the next 50 years will bring, but to serve as a balanced intermediary. You know, I facilitate wherever I can, I encourage wherever I can, I contextualize, which I think is really important. Whenever something happens to try to give them the balanced view of it, you know, honoring how they feel, but also honoring the fact that there are elements there they may not understand and things that their mother may be carrying.

And, and I have to tell you, it has been for the better. You know, my girls are working through their pieces, they know they have a mother that is secure and always present and never leaving in me. But they also know that they have this other experience that they’re going to have to piece their way through and work their way through and come to a level of healing that allows them to be aware of this woman.

So this past week, we were really blessed to have a visit from the bio mom. And it wasn’t, it wasn’t uneventful. It was sweet. You know, and it was nice. And I’d be lying if I said that, you know, I think if you’re an adoptive mom or a foster mom, or even a stepmom, you know, who isn’t a primary parent role. You know, Alex, my Misterfella has shared this before that, you know, he’s a little protective over, you know, the little one. Because, you know, as the full time daily dad, you know, who’s doing all the dad work and showing up and, you know, a truly being there for her in every way, shape and form in ways she has never experienced before. You know, I think that he has some sensitivity sometimes, you know, when he’s like, oh, you know, like the other dad, you know, popped up or didn’t or is there for a visit or whatever, you know, like, just those sorts of experiences. When something comes up there, he definitely feels a feel, you know, because you just when you when you love you feel, you know, and I had that too, you know, I’m 10 years into this, and I am the primary mom that Ali knows, you know, when she thinks mom, she thinks me, you know, and I know this, but there was something about seeing her sitting next to her mom and seeing them share features, you know, or little habits or, you know, recognizing their things there, there’s a connection, you know, that is unique to them that on one hand, I felt so honored and privileged to witness and I’m so grateful, I’m trying not to get emotional about it, I’m so grateful that she gets to have this, you know, and I’m taking pictures and taking videos, because as someone who has an older daughter with addiction, I know that anything can happen. Anything.

And so, in watching these moments over pancakes, and you know, in parking lots and over puppies, you know, watching them laugh and hug and, you know, share stories, and I’m just snapping pictures so that she can have them forever. Because when she gets older, I just want her to always know that she always came from love, no matter what the world threw at her, she always came from love. And it was because she’s deserving. And she’s worthy. And she’s wonderful. And as complex as the stories you’ll read in Nothing is Missing can be you know, and as difficult and challenging as some of the, I mean, some of those things will drop your drawers and some of those things will make you cringe. And some will make you gasp, you know, as mothers and sisters and women and friends, you know, and internet aunties of these babies. 

But I can tell you that when you’re raising babies, in a collective, you know, with step-parents and multiple dads, and adoption, and all these different pieces, it’s so easy to feel like you’re doing something wrong. And it’s so easy to be scared to let people in. And it’s so easy to worry about what that’s going to mean about where you stand, and about if they’re going to be okay, and their identity and their exposure and there are so many things to worry about.

And what I learned this week as I reflect back on this time that we had and scroll through these photos and just see the brightest of smiles and I see the joy and the security, you know, I feel like we secured her sobriety for another couple of years just from some of those hugs you know. Is that ultimately if everybody is working in the best interest of these sweet babies, as we have so diligently and so hard for these past 10 years that for these babies, nothing is missing.

They have all the love in the world. They have a mother who’s watching over them 24/7. They have a mother who even though she may not see them, has them in her heart and mind. And no matter what they’re gonna be okay. Love is actually multiplied. And I’m really grateful because in this particular situation, I know some of you have had questions about it, and maybe experiencing it on your own, I have to let you know that. It can work. It’s messy. It’s complicated, but it can work. So I’m excited for you. I mean, we’re only a couple of weeks out. And I think by now I’m coming up, when you’re listening to this episode, I may have already announced that I’m going to be on tour. So we’re going to see each other in person, you know, really soon.

I’ll be coming to a couple of different cities around the East Coast. And I’ll be hitting some cities, and I think Texas and Illinois and definitely California. And what’s great is I actually think bio mom may be popping in on a few of those, which is really special, you know, because she’s part of the family. And when you all are reading this book in just a matter of weeks, I really hope that you see the honor and the love, and the gratitude, you know, that I have for my weird, wonky family. And I also hope that you see a little bit of yourself in it. Your weird, wonky family, you know, and I hope you see a little bit of the possibilities if you’re looking to build a family and know that it doesn’t have to look a certain way for it to be very, very right.

And if you’re dealing with any complexities with co-parenting because God, who isn’t, right? I want you to know to have hope. That sometimes there are seasons where parents aren’t able to participate the way they want to or they may not understand the value of participating the way they should. But know that things can change. And all that matters is that your kids know that they are seen and loved and heard.

So thank you for taking time to hear me today as you always do sweet friend. Jump in the DMs and let me know kind of what you’re dealing with and send me your best parenting tips and above all else, if you have other people in your life who are loving up on your babies, I’m one of them. Make sure to give thanks because you are so so deserving.

 
In this episode, we chat about:
  • Some of the details behind our girls’ bio mom,
  • The challenges of coparenting over the last 10 years,
  • The complicated history and current love that I feel towards our situation, and
  • How I look at the future of coparenting for my girls

Resources and links mentioned in this episode:
  • Pre-order my memoir, Nothing is Missing, HERE!
  • Listen to Episode 1 of Season 1 for the story of How I Met My Daughters!
  • Send me a DM on Instagram and Facebook!
  • Book a 20 min call to see if working together is the right next step for you!
  • Don’t miss our last chat with Miss Monica on how she built her business! Listen here!
  • I love reading your reviews of the show! You can share your thoughts on Apple here!

More about The Nicole Walters Podcast:

If you’re looking for the strategies and encouragement to pursue a life of purpose, this is the podcast for you! Week after week Nicole Walters will have you laughing hysterically while frantically taking notes as she shares her own personal stories and answers your DMs about life, business, and everything in between.

As a self-made multimillionaire and founder of the digital education firm, Inherit Learning Company, Nicole Walters is the “tell-it-like-it-is” best friend that you can’t wait to hang out with next.

When Nicole shows up, she shows OUT, so tune in each week for a laugh, a best friend chat, plus the strategies and encouragement you need to confidently live a life of purpose.

Follow Nicole on IG @NicoleWalters and visit inheritlearningcompany.com today and click the button to join our betterment community. Your membership gives you access to a world of people and tools focused on helping you build the life you want.