After months of drama between Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy, it looks like things can finally settle down now that the couple has reached a custody agreement for Bryn, their four-year-old daughter together.
During her blistering testimony in court last week, the former talk show host, 43, had plenty to say about the "damage" Hoppy is doing to their daughter. For starters, he had the audacity to feed the little girl meat and take her to church (church!).
He also made their shared living situation (at one point, the couple resided in separate wings of their New York City apartment) "brutal, horrendous, excruciating," alleged Frankel. And she complained that Hoppy, 43, "would not let me be alone with Bryn in the apartment" and would "stare at me with a menacing face."
I couldn't help but cringe when I read all of this. It seems like Bethenny is falling into the very common Single Mummy Trap.
When I was married, I knew exactly what my children were doing at all times. I knew what they ate, how long they slept, if they got naps, what they wore, and what time they went to bed. While my now-ex-husband was a part of their daily schedule, he often deferred to me when we were setting up rules.
Then, we separated. At first, I was able to maintain some control over the time they spent with their dad, but as we grew apart, the line between what was allowed and not allowed blurred. I found Happy Meal toys in my kids' backpacks. I heard them quoting Patrick and SpongeBob. My daughter decided she'd only eat the highly processed, never-allowed-in-my-house chicken nuggets that her dad apparently stocked like a hoarder in his freezer.
With me, it was organic milk, homemade bread, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Their dad gave them Gatorade. Bedtime at his house is an hour later than at mine, and naps never happen. While this may not seem like a fight worth fighting, when a mum loses control over the way she wants to raise her children, it can get very ugly, very fast. After all, I may have signed up for co-parenting with my ex, but I assumed — as, perhaps, Bethenny did — that I'd still be the primary maker of rules, keeper of snacks, and director of activities.
Three years down the road, I no longer want to shout at the heavens what a horrible father my ex is because he thinks Adventure Time is appropriate viewing for a four-year-old. I've learned to step back and gain some perspective. He and I parent in two very different ways, and I had to accept that those differences don't make him a bad father, nor do they endanger our children in the long run. We now save our discussions for big ticket items, such as when our daughter should get her ears pierced, whether our son should be allowed to buy certain games, and which schools they need to attend.
Part of co-parenting means letting go. I hope Bethenny and Jason figure that out. Now that their custody agreement is finally settled, perhaps they've taken the first step toward a more peaceful co-parenting situation.