Posts tagged ‘divorce’
You may accidentally meet The Girlfriend inside the grocery store with no makeup on, wearing your workout attire from trip to the gym five hours ago… or maybe you spot her on your way out of a bar, as you arrogantly walk past with your girls at your side. You never know, you may be like me and meet the new girlfriend when she comes down the stairs of the house she now shares with your ex and your son, as you’re picking up your little guy for the weekend. However and whenever you meet, it’s awkward, stressful and laced with anxiety.
It’s taken some time for me to get used to the idea of my ex’s girlfriend. I basically ignored her existence for at least a year, all subconsciously of course. Actually, we all pretended she didn’t exist – my ex, my son and myself – by never really mentioning her, ever. It’s not like I disliked her or wanted to be back with my ex, it was just the idea of her that bothered me for some reason.
After some soul-searching, I realized, her being The Girlfriend isn’t what boiled my blood. It was being a mother figure to my son that really got to me. Since then, I’ve dealt with that issue and tried to ”Let Go” as they say…but the dynamic is still wierd and awkward to me, even after several friendly encounters and even a family dinner at their house (which I would advise against for anyone thinking of doing this… I have two words for you – Neutral Ground)
Is Visitation Just for Dad?
The latest awkward situation began this morning, while listening to my voice mail. In between the work messages, I hear, “…I will be out-of-town for a few days, but ‘Girlfriend’ will pick him on Thursday… Just wanted to let you know.”
I sat there in a daze, staring at the kitchen counter. The phone continued to play back messages into my ear, but my brain was no longer listening. Instead it was asking a string of questions like, “How do we feel about this?” “Why is this bothering us?” “Are we just being controlling here or is this truly not acceptable?”
Unfortunately, here I am, hours later with the brain still asking the same questions. Am I overreacting? Should my son go to his Dad’s house during his normal visitation schedule, even though Dad won’t be there? I know it’s important for him to have a relationship with The Girlfriend, but does that extend to her getting visitation too?
Oh, the joys of Co-Parenting…
I definitely learned the hard way, it’s not the person you marry you have to worry about, it’s the one you have children with. After a divorce, you can choose to never see your ex-spouse again. Have a child with them and it’s a different story. They will be in your life FOREVER. Despite what everyone thinks, it does not just end when the child turns 18. There’s college, graduations, weddings and grandchildren to deal with after the custody arrangement ends. Not only will your ex spouse be an eternal part of your life, somehow they find a way to affect those around you, including family, friends and especially significant other’s.
Looking back, marriage is easy compared to Co-Parenting after a divorce.
Whether you have a good or bad relationship with your child’s mother or father, you are always going to have issues come up. Always.
(and let me tell you from personal experience, it is not easy to work with an ex on touchy subjects such as parenting techniques when the reason your relationship ended was due to the inability to effectively communicate….despite a year of counseling)
Right now our Co-Parenting struggle is over which school district our lil guy will attend for kindergarten next year. My ex wants him to go to school where they live with his girlfriend and her daughter from a previous marriage…while I want him to go to school in my neighborhood so I can provide the stability and structure that is non-existent in their household. My ex is a good dad, for the most part. He cares, he’s there when his work schedule doesn’t get in the way and he is goofy and fun. And we normally get along pretty well, as long as we don’t talk about anything heavy. Without getting into the whole ordeal…I just that I think he and my son would benefit much more if we changed our current schedule so that he was ‘Weekend Dad’ and I was ‘School Night Mom’. That way, our son could have consistency and structure during the week, then have unrestricted fun and sugar overloads on the weekend.
Unfortunately this one looks like it could get ugly…which is too bad. That’s never good, for anyone involved.
Like many other women, my dance with divorce began with an endless supply of unwanted (and unwarranted) drama. Even after a year of couples counseling, it became too much for me to handle. My head swirled and spun in a fog of confusion as I tried to figure out if it was “Too Good to Leave or Too Bad to Stay” (a MUST read for anyone in this stage!). When I finally felt confident enough in my decision to leave, I came to one of the most difficult steps of the dance – actually telling my ex I was done. Unfortunately, many times that can mark the beginning of a rough, lifelong road ahead.
Yes, these last few years have been rough. Yes, things may have been much easier had I dug that hole and hibernated like a bear in winter, like I wanted to so many times. Yet, given the chance to redo it all, I would not change a single thing. Working through my troubled marriage, seeking counseling and making important decisions about my life, and my son’s future, were necessary steps I needed to take to overcome some of my own issues. I would not be the person I am today had I not driven down that bumpy road.
Every now and then I will catch myself wondering what life would be like had I taken a different turn, down another road. Where would I be if I hadn’t gone into work that day and met my ex? Wouldn’t life be simpler if I didn’t have this Single Mama Drama to deal with? Then I stop and think of my little man. I remember how much he has changed my life for the better. I reflect on how much I have grown by being his Single Mama and instead of getting angry or frustrated with life, I smile.
I am glad I was never offered a glimpse into my future. I’m afraid I would’ve done things differently in order to avoid all the heartache. Looking back, I am thankful for every speed bump, every dangerous curve and treacherous bump along that road. Even though it may not feel like it at times, it IS worth the pain.
I agree with Garth Brooks.
And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the danceYes my life is better left to chance
I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance
I don’t want to think about where I would be now if I had sat this one out.
If you could go back and time to do things differently, would you?
If someone gave you a crystal ball and showed you how your life would turn out, would you look?
Like a typical Grandmother, my mom is always complaining about not having enough pictures of her grandson. Now that we have digital cameras and photo sharing sites on the internet, who needs boxes of actual printed photos cluttering up much needed cabinet space? In an effort to be the good daughter, I thought that professional pictures would be a wonderful gift for ol’ Grandma. So, I hired a photographer to follow us around our favorite park.
Our photos came out great (Thanks Crystal!), and Grandma loved them of course, but the beautiful images captured much more than just our typical day at the park. They actually caught the unique, unbreakable bond shared between me and my little guy. A bond that deepens with every spontaneous hug or “I love you”, with every grab for my hand as we walk across the street and with each look of amazement when he learns something new.
My little guy and I are a team and we work and play together as one. We like to celebrate our success with High-Fives and shouts of “Good Teamwork!”, which can be seen anytime throughout our day: a flawless on-time morning, an efficient yet speedy clean up session or a great game of tag at the park.
My little man is my Number One. He always comes first, no matter what. He knows my world revolves around him, yet still understands - and respects – the Head Coach calls the shots.
This may come as a surprise, but I feel that my little guy would benefit more in life if we kept our team a two-some. Not to say that I don’t want to get remarried someday (maybe) but if I do, I think I am done having kids. I made the decision awhile back when my ex-husband moved in with his new girlfriend and her daughter. Luckily I have a decent relationship with my ex and his girlfriend, so the decision wasn’t made out of spite or jealousy.
My decision came out of pure love for my little man. I just tried to put myself in my son’s shoes; going back and forth between homes when his brother(s) and/or sister(s) got to stay put. I know I would feel like a visitor, or a temporary member of everyone’s little family. I decided that he may need someone to be there for him 100% and receive their full undivided attention. Due to his living situation, he may need to feel that he is the center of someone’s world, somewhere. So, I decided that someone and somewhere will be when he’s with me.
Awesome Little Team
I have been struggling with this decision for a while, especially now that I am in a serious relationship. I often wondered if I was being irrational, since everyone seemed so shocked to hear the reasoning that lead to my conclusion. I felt like I was all alone in a big yellow raft, floating in the ocean of single motherhood.
That was until I read a story about an Awesome Little Team.
I recently found Lauren’s blog, mylifeincomplete.com, among the sea of Single Mom links. Reading through her life experiences, I came across a post “Awesome Little Team” that brought me to tears. Literally. It was about her little awesome team and her decision to keep it a two-some.
I don’t know what it is about human nature that makes us search for others in similar situations and why we get such comfort knowing we are not alone. Whatever it is, I thank it for leading me to Lauren’s post. Thanks to her story, I now feel confident in my skills as a mother and my decision to keep another awesome little team intact.
I’m just now getting the phone call.
They just finished dinner and are on their way home.
“Good night sweetheart, I love you!”
As I hang up the phone, I take a deep breath, trying to reduce the anxiety I feel building in my chest.
It’s 9:15…he just ate dinner…and is now on his way home?
My ex and I have never been on the same page when it comes to Parenting. It was ONE of the factors that lead to our divorce. I won’t get into the mental abuse, controlling behaviors and serious family baggage that went along with our differences in parenting. A quick piece of advice for anyone looking to get married… TALK.
Before we got married, we never discussed things like Politics, Religion, Parenting styles or most importantly, Money. We figured that all that stuff would just work its self out somehow. Love would conquer all. Hah! Really people, pre-marital counseling. Look into it.
The differences in parenting styles are not only a problem when you are married, but becomes a huge source of anxiety, stress and sometimes anger when trying to co-parent.
When we first separated, I had a really hard time with the fact that my son’s world was significantly different when he spent time at his father’s house. Bedtime was different, rules were different and discipline seemed non-existent. I knew how much children need consistency and stability in life, especially when coming from a divorced household, and it killed me to see that he his two worlds were not aligned.
Had I not read, “Good Parenting through Your Divorce” by Mary Ellen Hannibal, I’m not sure where I would be now. Who knows, maybe I would be wearing a stylish white jacket with lots of straps and buckles and living in a bright white room with lots of padding. One of the chapters resonates in my brain and always reminds me that I can’t control what goes on over there. I can only do the best that I can when he is with me and let go of all the rest.
Believe me, it’s not easy. I struggle with it every day.
When I feel my chest tightening or hear myself saying “he’s doing what over there?” I take my deep cleansing breath and remind myself that I have a beautiful, smart little boy who has two parents that love him. So what if one is lets him watch Rated R movies and gives him Trix and Fruity Pebbles for breakfast…
Okay… Deep Breath…