It probably won’t come as a surprise to many of us that Cheryl and Liam Payne announced their split this week after a two-year relationship…
They also set out their intention to co-parent their son, Bear, who turned one in March. Breaking up is sad enough, more so when kids are involved. It happened to me when my son was approaching his second birthday. It was my decision, that I now think was the best thing for us.
Relationships are hard. Relationships in the public eye must be even harder. So, unlike Piers Morgan who lambasted Cheryl and Liam on Good Morning Britain for ending their relatively short relationship, I applaud them. It takes bravery, courage and a whole lot of determination to walk away from a relationship when children are involved. It is not an easy option sacrificing something in your own life for the long-term benefit of everyone involved. Living away from my son for a couple of days every week is the most painful thing I have ever experienced, including giving birth to him. But, I hope it will make us all happier and better people in the long term than staying unhappy under the same roof ever would have done.
It also doesn’t mean that Cheryl and Liam do not have love for each other, which they state in their carefully orchestrated Twitter announcements. You can love someone with every fibre in your being but that doesn’t make a relationship work. You can also love someone without being “in love” with them. I still love TJ’s dad, and I probably always will but It wasn’t enough to save our marriage. Relationships aren’t the ‘fall in love, live happily ever after’ fairy tale we’re peddled. It takes those other clichés – compromise, compatibility and communication – to keep them going.
Babies can test a relationship to the max. Even if everything was hunky dory before you did a wee on a little stick, it can all change as soon as you get home from the maternity ward. Throw a heady combination of sleep deprivation, divided attention and a change in identity into a blender and even the strongest relationships could end with divorce. Parenthood changes a person and it may mean that you grow apart as people, instead of together as a close family unit.
With the best will in the world, co-parenting is hard. I set out on my new life as a single mum with strong intentions for TJ to split his time between mummy’s and daddy’s separate houses and for us to spend time once a month as a family-of-three. This has, to some extent, happened. But sometimes, life also gets in the way. When it does happen and we all hang out, it is undeniably difficult to see the other person move on with their lives when maybe you’re not quite there yet. All you want to do is delve into what’s going on but, it’s none of your business anymore. On the other hand, when it’s good and you have fun as a three, it’s hard to remember why you walked away in the first place.
I don’t envy Cheryl or Liam for the situation they now find themselves in. There will be 1,000 emotions as they strive to find the best way to move forward. I am doing that myself. On any given day, I can fly high as a kite and then come crashing to the floor as soon as the wind is taken out of my sails.
What it takes to move on and successfully co-parent is conviction in your own decisions. Conviction that you walked away at the right time before children are old enough to be affected. Conviction that there are better days ahead with a better match – for both of you.
I wish Cheryl and Liam the best – the same as I would any family who finds themselves speaking to solicitors instead of each other. It’s not easy, but you shouldn’t have to fight for this love if really you want to call the shots, regardless of a whole lotta history or not.
Jude is a 30-something mum-of-one who charts her adventures as a single parent while juggling her kid with a career. There’s no sugar-coating the truth with Jude – she tells it as she sees it, hears it, lives it and experiences it. But, this isn’t a how-to guide to parenting – sometimes, it’s quite the opposite! Jude isn’t ashamed to admit to her own flaws whether that’s in raising her son or navigating the ups and downs of relationships. She hopes to show other parents out there – single or otherwise – that they are not alone with the tantrums, tears and all that goes with it. But, above all, Jude wants to show what a fabulous experience parenting is – for just when we all need that reminder of why we signed up to the mum/dad role in the first place!