As most of you know, my divorce was finalized in January of this year. It took just over a year to go through the divorce process. My divorce, like 99% of divorces you hear about, was an ugly, acrimonious affair. It was not without its fair share of mud slinging and dirty laundry airing.
My ex and I had been essentially separated for three years before we ever even filed for divorce. Although we lived in the same house, we basically lived on separate floors and mostly came together for social obligations and the sake of the children. Neither of us were unhappy to be divorcing. We fought mainly about custody issues.
I'm not going to go in to all the dirty details of our divorce, because they're no different than the dirty details of anyone's divorce and we're past all that.
And we are. Past all that. To my intense relief and satisfaction.
To my surprise, we actually get along really well as divorced parents. Granted, we still have some trust issues and we still have the occasional flare up. But for the most part -- we're pretty darn good.
I'm proud of that. I'm shocked, considering where we were a year ago... but I'm proud. And maybe, just maybe, a little bit smug too.
You see, when it came to issues about the children, we were, even in the worst of times, able to have rational discussions about what was going on, what we should do, and how we should do it.
For example, when I couldn't locate black dress shoes in my hometown for our son, I called his father and asked him to please find some. He went all over town looking, finally found them, and brought them the next time we met for visitation. There was no discussion about how much they cost, how I needed to pay half... I asked for shoes for our son, and he got them.
At Christmastime, we had multiple discussions about what we should get the kids. It wasn't a competition about who was going to get the kids more, it wasn't trying to top each other. It was about what was best for the kids. And when I couldn't locate the princess Zhu Zhu pets for our daughter... I once again sent him on a search mission. Which he completed without complaint.
I think that's actually pretty cool of him. Good job, EJS. Well done.
I talk to my children's father just about every day. I tell him everything that is going on in our children's lives. From the good, the bad, the ugly at school, to their health issues, to silly things they say. He is their father, will always BE their father, and he has that right -- to know everything that is going on in their lives.
When the kids got their (amazing!) report cards, we called their dad. When I was really upset because another child had been exceptionally mean to our daughter, I called her dad. When both kids spent time at the hospital this year, I called their dad... a LOT.
It's not because I want to talk to him, or even that I need to talk to him. It's that it's the right thing to do. For. Our. Kids.
I guess maybe it's all in your mindset. I chose to have children with this man. Our relationship didn't work out so well, but regardless, he is going to be in our lives for... well... all of our lives. So I have a choice. I can either resent that, fight that, and end up losing my relationship with our children, or I can embrace that and make sure we're the best damn co-parents out there.
I chose Option #2.
So, for our daughter's birthday this year I invited her father to come to share in the festivities. I picked him up at the airport (driving through a blizzard to do so -- at one o'clock in the morning no less), he spent a night at my house, I let him use my mini-van for the weekend... all because that was the right thing to do for our daughter. I can't say that it wasn't weird, or that it thrilled me, but it certainly thrilled our kids. That made all the weirdness worthwhile.
When I look around at the other divorced (or divorcing) single mothers that I know, I only see a few who are taking care of business with their kids welfare forefront in their minds. One friend puts my good relationship with my kids' dad to shame. She actually invited her ex-husband and his new girlfriend to stay at her house for a visit. THAT is impressive.
But mostly, I see bitter, angry women who are using their kids as weapons against their baby daddies. Women who fight about everything -- just for the sake of fighting. Women who lie, who bad-mouth the dads TO the kids, who won't let the fathers have contact with the children even though the children have ASKED for it.
There's the woman who, despite being in a relationship of her own, has absolutely gone after her ex-husband's fiancé AND her family. To the point of making false allegations of drug abuse about this poor woman AND her kids! All because he, the ex-husband, has the audacity to simply move on from their divorce.
There's the woman who has asked her friends to stalk and harass her ex and his girlfriend, asking people to take pictures of them in the hopes of garnering some purported "evidence" to use against them.
There's the woman who has done worse than that -- too bad to mention here.
To these women I say, what is WRONG with you?
Do you not realize that every time you put your child's father down in front of them, you are putting down one-half of that child too?
Do you not realize that your children recognize your lies for what they are, and you are just losing your credibility?
That when you refuse to allow your kids to talk to their dad, you're only hurting THEM.
This is where my smugness comes in. My children's father and I -- we aren't perfect by any means. We've both slung some mud. We both have made missteps and wrong turns along the way. But, at the very least, we were able to keep the focus on doing the right thing for our kids.
Good for us.