July 27, 2011
Shortly after we separated my (ex)husband asked if he could invite his new girlfriend to our town while the kids and I were away for a few days. Not only did I say yes to that, I also said it was okay for her to spend time in our home, which we still share. Some people are surprised that I’d welcome her in that way so soon after we split up, but I figure if I’m not going to be with him, why should I care if she is? And what difference does it make if that happens at our house? I was very comfortable with my decision, maybe even a little bit smug, and when my friends protested that I was too laid back I declared they were being silly.
And then she left her razor in my shower.
At first I thought it was kind of funny – my husband’s girlfriend left her hot pink razor in my shower! I told a few friends “listen, you’ll never believe this!” But as it turned out my friends didn’t think it was funny. Instead they were incensed. They told me I was being disrespected. They said she was marking territory. That she was sending me a message and it said I WAS HERE. “Don’t believe for a second that it was an accident,” they said. “Watch your back.” Soon enough I was furious. I was a spurned wife, betrayed and ready to go to battle. Before I knew it I found myself reading from the traditional script of divorce, despite all the efforts I was making to do things differently.
My ex and I had a knock-down drag-out fight. There were tears. And then hugs. And eventually there was laughter, at my own inability to stick to the alternate divorce script I’d been trying to write.
I’m glad I found my way back to my own script before I could do too much damage to the new, still fragile world we’re trying to create – where exes get along, welcome new partners, and even do what they can to help each other’s budding relationships succeed. I’ve since realized that in navigating this unchartered territory we’ve each probably done 100 things right for every mistake we’ve made – the mistakes are just easier to see (especially when they take the form of a hot pink razor). I’ve also asked my friends to support me, my ex, and his girlfriend too, in forging this new world and rejecting the more common negative script of divorce. They’re doing their best, but still watching my back, and that’s all I can really ask.
Have you ever found yourself unintentionally reading from someone else’s script?
July 13, 2011
Response to Life as an IndieMom: Babe Meets Boy (Debra Goldstein on Huffington Post)
Here’s to making up our own rules. Of COURSE we’ll try to be careful with our kids’ hearts (and our own), but I believe that some risk-taking in life is both good and necessary to live fully. I know I want to teach my kids that.
I haven’t yet decided to introduce any of the men I’ve dated to my kids, but my ex’s girlfriend has become part of their lives — and their lives are richer for it. Even if she and my ex don’t stay together forever, I think her relationship with my kids is a positive thing for them.
People come and go in and out of our lives all the time for various reasons. Not all of these losses are crushing and they are certainly a reality of living and loving. Again recognizing that it’s important to proceed with caution, maybe learning with and from us about the value of even temporary relationships is the best way to help prepare our kids for rich lives that include losses both big and small. www.rearrangingatoms.com
Link to this comment on Huffington Post
Response to The (Sometimes) Surprising Benefits of Divorce for Parent-Child Relationships (Jonathan Weiler and Anne J. Menkens on Huffington Post)
I have experienced all of these benefits since splitting up with my husband. I definitely appreciate my time away from my kids, and take advantage of it to do the things I like to do that are practically impossible with a 4- and 6-year-old around — dinner or drinks with friends, going for a run, getting lost in a good book, and of course, dating. At the same time I appreciate the times when the parenting is all up to me. My ex has a big personality and is a highly involved Dad. He holds our kids CLOSE. I would never, ever want to change that, but at times when we were together I had a hard time finding space for me to be a Mom. I somehow didn’t feel like there was room for me amidst all of his larger-than-life “Dadness”. I now have more time alone with the kids and the space to create my own relationships with them. I’m also more intentional about planning fun things for us to do together, not just hanging around or always trying to get something else done. Maybe I could have done this even when my ex and I were still together, but I didn’t, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do it now. www.rearrangingatoms.com
Link to this comment on Huffington Post