On Saturday I went to my ex-husband’s surprise 40th birthday party that I helped decorate with his new wife, the stepmother to my kids. His parents were there too. My former inlaws. It should have been an exceedingly awkward evening, but it wasn’t.
Instead, it was filled with hugs, laughter and friends.
Were there challenges to the evening? Sure. Putting 40 helium-filled balloons into my tiny Kia Rio on a windy day was a bit comical. Telling my daughter no more Coke (the 1/2 glass was more than she should be having with braces on at 7 o’clock at night) or getting my son to put more than one carrot on his plate were tiny issues. Figuring out the best way to properly cut a wheel of Gouda cheese brought about its own set of challenges, but the company? No issues there.
Over the years since our divorce, my ex and I have come to realize that just because we weren’t right for each other in a marriage sense, doesn’t mean we have to hate each other. In fact, because we share children together, the opposite needs to be true. We absolutely have to be respectful of each other.
When my husband and I split, we made a pack not to let the dissolution of our marriage tear our family apart. We could live separate lives without ignoring the other person’s existence. We were determined to stay friends. In that way, we are teaching our children compassion and kindness, and yes, love.
My children know what a gift our mutual respect is. They often confess that they are so happy that we don’t fight like many of their divorced friend’s parents do. I am too.
That’s not to say we don’t have issues co-parenting. Of course we do. But we work through them together. As a family does.
With that, I say to my ex, welcome to Club 40.