"I could write the Kama Sutra on co-parenting," jokes Josh Lucas' ex-wife, writer Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, in a new essay for TIME
For Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, learning the co-parenting balance has been a journey.
“For years, I’ve been waiting for someone to come clean about co-parenting. Celebrities and social media would have us believe it’s easy, even enjoyable, and I’m tired of contributing to that narrative. It’s not true,” admits Ciencin Henriquez, who shares 5½-year-old son Noah Rev with Lucas, 46.
“As a co-parenter and frequent social media over-sharer, I’m guilty of perpetuating the notion that anyone can seamlessly transition from a couple to co-parents with grace, dignity and ease,” she adds. “So, here we go, I’ll say the thing that no one else wants to say: Co-parenting sucks.”
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Ciencin Henriquez reveals that she and Lucas “have tried multiple ways to co-exist” since separating when Noah was 1 year old, including “mediation and meditation, and seeing each other in moderation,” living separately and together and bird nesting.
“We’ve tried cooperative parenting and parallel parenting, going no-contact and going full-contact (a name for the emotional set back where you start sleeping together again against all better judgment),” she explains.
“I could write the Kama Sutra on co-parenting,” jokes the mother of one. “After five years, the conclusion I’ve come to is that there’s nothing natural about this. Successfully sharing the person who brings you the most joy with the person who brings you the most pain is nothing short of a miracle.”
“We tried really hard to be the world’s friendliest exes and in photos it was believable, but in reality we were actually two people desperately clinging onto the fantasy of what we thought our family could look like,” admits Ciencin Henriquez.
“It would take years to face the facts of separating,” she recalls. “No matter how much my ex-husband and I love each other, how much we’ve forgiven one another and how much we’re willing to work together, divorce means we set fire to the fantasy … and what’s left in the ashes is harder to accept than I imagined.”
Ciencin Henriquez admits she “wasn’t ready to let go” when she filed for divorce, and in the years following would constantly consider realities like the fact that her son “will grow up always missing one of his parents” and may not have a sibling anytime soon.
“What I know now and desperately needed to hear then is this: Let go of the family you thought you’d be and accept the family that you are. Redefine your reality,” she writes. “It won’t be easy and there will be days when it feels nearly impossible. You will feel guilt, but you are not guilty. You will feel shame, but you did nothing shameful.”