I don’t get along with my daughter’s mother. In fact, I don’t think we ever got along. We conceived our daughter when we were just 18 and brought her into this world at 19. There are many reasons for our not getting along. Or let me be more honest: We just don’t like each other. But through that we’ve managed to quite successfully raise a 13-year-old daughter. And every day, I ask myself how the hell we did it.
I say “successfully” raised as a reference to my daughter’s character. She’s bright, like “straight As since she was in third grade” kinda bright. She’s also done ballet, modeling, played the guitar, played soccer and basketball, makes funny IG videos, and her school relay team is looking to win their sixth straight city finals.
She has friends, good friends, some great friends, and has been a blessing to my life, and I’m sure her mother feels the same way. But she’s managed to accomplish all of this despite her mother and I feuding nearly the entire way.
We just couldn’t agree on anything, and I think we realized very early on that was the case. So what we decided to do was to keep our communication to a minimum. We spoke only when it was necessary—pickups and drop-offs, relaying information about doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher nights, and school trips, those kind of things.
We also used our parents. I actually don’t think her dad and my mom have ever met (long story), but they have spoken on the phone quite a few times in hopes of working out whatever she and I couldn’t on our own. They were much more civil to each other than we were, and they helped bridge whatever gaps in communication existed and created a buffer in between the madness.
We tried to speak casually to each other and tried to have some kind of friendship “for our daughter’s sake.” But despite the love we shared for our daughter, the dislike we had for each other only worsened.
We had to figure it out, so we literally turned to strictly texting as our only means of communication. Things like:
“Dentist appointment at 5 p.m. next Thursday,” or “I’m picking her up from school tomorrow.”
Odd, I know. But guess what, it worked! And it’s working. We stopped arguing on a regular basis and the flow of how we managed sharing time with our daughter improved tenfold. We still have flare-ups here and there, but our overall relationship is much more peaceful and productive than it has ever been.
You’re probably wondering what the impact of this is on my daughter? How does she deal with never seeing her parents communicate, like ever? The truth is I can’t really answer that. I can say she’s still a happy, confident young girl. I don’t ever speak ill of her mother in front of her, but she knows how I feel.
She’s 13 now so she’s not naive. She knows we don’t like each other. My best guess is that she’s dealing with it. And to be honest: This is real life and sometimes in real life things get messy. Sometimes you have to look your child in the eye and tell them, “This is what it is.” You just hope that whatever that thing is doesn’t break them in any way, and judging by my daughter’s behavior, I don’t think this has.
Time will tell how much longer we can keep this up. I don’t imagine our current text message arrangement will last forever. But when we get to that point, we’ll figure something else out that works for us. Because if it doesn’t work for us, I worry much more about what that means for our daughter rather than the situation she sees right now.
This post originally appeared on Medium.