### Successfully Co-Parenting: A Positive College Drop-Off Experience with My Ex

I’m a strong advocate for venturing beyond familiar territories and exploring new horizons, especially when it comes to choosing a college. Personally, I ventured hundreds of miles away from home for my own education. Following in my footsteps, my daughter opted to leave our home state of Oregon for college in Arizona. The looming question was whether she would embark on this journey solo, accompanied by me, by my ex-partner, or perhaps by both of us.

To my surprise, she opted for the latter choice.

My ex and I parted ways when our daughter was just 3 years old, so she has grown up accustomed to a life shared between two households. While our relationship has seen its ups and downs, we eventually settled into an amicable co-parenting dynamic, much to the benefit of our children. However, the prospect of such intense togetherness after decades apart was a daunting one. The upcoming road trips, flights, the emotional task of settling our 18-year-old into her college dorm, and the return journey – all seemed like a challenging yet necessary sacrifice for the sake of our children.

Embarking on this emotional rollercoaster with a man I hadn’t spent more than an hour alone with in over 15 years was indeed a peculiar experience, yet oddly familiar.

Reconnecting with my ex during this shared parenting experience reminded me of the qualities I once admired in him. However, being accustomed to making parenting decisions independently, relinquishing control in the moment was a valuable lesson. Allowing him to take the lead and offer his perspective highlighted the reality that our child is maturing, gradually requiring less of our guidance. It served as a poignant reminder to step back, listen to different viewpoints, and embrace the autonomy of those around me, particularly my children.

Despite my inclination towards strong opinions and a desire to maintain control, I realized the importance of accommodating diverse perspectives in the parenting journey. Witnessing my kids’ interactions with their father was a heartwarming experience, underscoring the unique bond they share with him.

The return journey, which I had anticipated with some trepidation, turned out to be far less stressful and surprisingly enjoyable. As we shared conversations during the car ride to the airport, the wait, and the flight back home, I acknowledged that while he may not be my top choice for a travel companion, he certainly wasn’t the worst either.

In facing the impending empty nest, a significant milestone for parents, I found solace in the shared experience with my ex-partner. Despite the challenges and complexities that come with divorce, we both recognized the unparalleled love and dedication we have for our children. This trip reinforced our enduring bond, showcasing our ability to navigate difficult circumstances together.

Raising two remarkable children as a single parent for many years, I have often disagreed with my ex-partner’s parenting approach, and vice versa. Nonetheless, I acknowledge that our distinct styles have contributed to shaping our children into the exceptional individuals they are today.

While dropping off your child at college signifies the conclusion of a significant chapter, it does not mark the end of the parenting journey. It symbolizes a transition into a new phase. I am grateful to have shared this pivotal moment with the only other person who truly understands its emotional weight.

Julia Williamson is a mother to two nearly adult daughters. She is a freelance writer, a master of decluttering, and an eternal optimist, regardless of circumstances. Explore more of her work at thesunnysideofthestreet.substack.com . Are you ready for what comes next?