Monday, April 2, 2018

Our Expanded Family

It's probably a strange thing to hear that I like my ex-husband, Dave, and probably what’s really strange to hear is I like his wife, Cindy. She once said she thought if we had met under different circumstances, we would have been friends anyway, and I totally agreed. I guess we’re lucky, but we also all behave like grownups, so there’s that.

When Dave and I had “the talk” about 11 years ago, we agreed we would always put the needs of the kids and any potential grandchildren before our own, we would not fight over time spent with them, and we would stay in each other’s lives so our kids’ and grandkids’ lives would not be completely disrupted. We have stuck to that, and it has worked.

Leah, the boys and I just took a trip east to see Lindsay in Baltimore and to see Dave and Cindy in the DC area, and we all had a great time! Here’s the thing …. when we all work together, we outnumber the littles, and that, my friends, is a big win. Seriously, those two little boys will take us down in a heartbeat if they sense any sign of weakness. I am only slightly joking here!

I guess we are proof that divorce doesn’t have to be horrible. In fact, I can list so many ways we have all benefited from the expanding of our family that now includes mine, Dave’s and Cindy’s. One important moment comes to mind. I don’t remember all the details, but Lindsay was in a bind moving between apartments and having to leave town for something, and she texted me this: “I’m at the airport. All my stuff is in a storage unit, thanks to Cindy. She came up and helped and got me to the airport. Don’t think I could’ve done it without her.”

It warmed my heart more than I can tell you that Cindy stepped up to help Lindsay while I was 800 miles away and could do nothing. At one point, long before Dave and Cindy were a couple, I remember thinking that no other woman could be a big part of my girls' lives, that I was their mom, and that was that. Looking back, wow, how mature was that? Obviously I got over it, but I have to admit those were my first thoughts as we were starting to plan our new normal. 

Unfortunately, in order to be, as I call us, “happily divorced,” it takes both exes behaving like grownups (are you sensing a theme?). I know of a case where one “side” has done everything to make their divorced relationship work, but the other side refuses to. I know of another case where I’m not sure either parent has worked to keep the kids out of the middle. It’s especially heartbreaking to see children pay the price for something they had nothing to do with.

If I could advise those parents, I would say this. Even if Dave were a total jerk, which is absolutely not the case, he is the father of my children, and for that alone, I should be respectful when talking to him or about him. It really isn’t that difficult. You just need to … say it with me, will you? …. behave like grownups!

Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now. My kids would say at this point, “Mom, you’re watching too much Dr. Phil.” And they may be right (he and Judge Judy are my guilty pleasures), but seriously, if you’re reading this and thinking I may have described you, then you need to do better. Be nice, be respectful, and be a grownup. If you don’t want to do it for your ex, do it for your children and all the others who are affected by your fighting. Life is way too short.

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