Trying to parent your kid while fighting with your ex reminds me of the poem by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”, but in the fighting version of the poem where the roads diverge, each parent takes a different path as well as one arm of their kid.
Then they start pulling.
There was no handbook at age 22 when I got divorced and if there was I wouldn’t have read it. For such a young and relatively selfish human being I managed to do more right than most would have expected of me but I did a lot of things wrong.
One story ended up with me on a bar floor, a cigarette butt stuck to my cheek and police being called to restrain me as I fist fought with my ex husband’s new girlfriend. While I have never been afraid to tell my own stories or examine my own faults, I never thought it right to write about my ex’s. That was one of those “me managing to do the right thing” moments.
My son is now 22 and I decided it was time to talk, but only if I had something good to say.
When my ex and I were married and my dad was dying outside our bedroom door, my ex spent countless hours drinking coffee with my dad who was at the time pretty much talking gobbeldy gook.
My ex went to work with my three brothers every day and threw pizza dough in the air starting at 4 o’clock in the morning to make money for our family.
I repeat, 4 o’clock in the morning.
My ex gave up his band, his house, the company of his friends, and life in the city to move back to the suburbs and into my family home with my entire family including my dying dad.
My ex was at times an amazing dad and he still makes my son laugh.
If you have nothing good to go back to then I’m sorry for you and your kids but don’t curse your ex anyway, instead, thank them for coming into your life long enough to create your kid with you.
Stop fighting over every little thing, such as the food your children eat, the homework they forgot to have them do, the L.L. Bean jacket that didn’t make it back, the amount of television time or what rated movie they watched.
Your kid won’t fall apart if they eat one un-organic yogurt or spend the weekend watching Wizards of Waverly Place. In the matter of you versus your ex, it doesn’t matter who’s right.
In most cases, both of you are probably a little bit wrong, except for in mine where I was always right.
Wait, did I just write that?
See, it’s a work in progress.
Your ex’s family did not divorce you. Foster a good relationship with your child’s other side of the family. Be thankful that there are more people in the world that love your kid than just you and your immediate.
If you hate your ex then wait till the day your kid becomes an adult and you look at him and all you see is your ex. Your child shares attributes from both your gene pools, attributes from your ex that you once thought it appropriate to get in bed with.
If you can’t manage to like your ex, then go for neutral.
In divorce world, neutral goes a long way.
Never talk about your ex to your kid. It isn’t right and once a year is one time too many.
You do not get a pass for bad behavior just because your ex is the spawn of Satan, if he is then one day your child will figure that out on his or her own.
It will not be a joyous day; it will be one of the saddest days of their lives and therefore yours as well.
After two decades of being divorced, the moments I am most proud of are those in which I did the right thing. And the ones I did wrong linger always like a bad rash in my arsenal of guilt
You will have fights, disagreements, and arguments and it will be a work in progress but your kid is the masterpiece you are trying to protect so pull up your sleeves and sweat a little.
Try to treat your ex with as much respect as you can muster, he or she might not deserve it but there’s someone in your house who does.