I'm almost divorced. I'm in that yucky period of divorce in which mediators or lawyers (in our case, a mediator) are called upon to dissect your financial information and life in order to determine a serious course of postmarriage action. So far, both parties — my ex-husband and myself — have remained intact. No one has gone on a wild drinking bender, become a Hare Krishna, or decided to twerk on a high school cheerleading squad or football team. OK, so for whatever reason 20-year-old boys are obsessed with me, which would be really useful if any of them had the ability to do taxes or take care of a house, but since that's not the case, this 30-something-year-old broad better learn accounting 101. I rest my case.
The two of us are sane. Mostly.
When you're divorced or almost divorced as in my case, you start to divide everything up. From furniture (you can take that tacky tchotchke you know) to time with your kid, divorcing is repiecing a puzzle back together and hoping that the picture is clear enough with no jagged edges sticking out. With that said, this also means splitting the holidays, and with Friday being Halloween, something had to be done. I had to decide. What in the name of Reese's Pieces do we do?
I decided we could go together. It ends up he's working, so it will end up being just me on trick-or-treat duty, but that air of amicability didn't start with Halloween. In the month of October we went to corn mazes, pumpkin-picking, and Sesame Place. I snapped photo upon photo, and like any other proud mom who's slightly obsessed with her only child, I posted photos of the events on Facebook. People saw the photos and privately messaged me frantically:
Are you getting back together?
No, I had to answer. No, we're not.
We took our daughter pumpkin-picking, and a couple with a young baby, seeing us struggle with our 3-year-old who didn't want to take a photo with either her mom or dad, offered to take a photo of the three of us.
I stopped and almost said to her, "But we're not a family anymore. We're impostors. We're posing as family."
And snap! The photo was beautiful. Three fairly adorable and happy people: two blondes (us ladies) and one dark-haired gentleman. We looked like the perfect family, except for we're not. We're not a family anymore.
You're probably wondering: is this woman on Prozac? How does she do so much with her ex-husband?
When it comes down to it, holidays and special events are not about the divorced couple; they're about the kids.
Whether your ex-husband cheated on you, was a jerk, or maybe was just a poor match, my advice to those of you trudging down this road is: suck it up, buttercup.
Unless the man was abusive and is unfit to be around (in that case, steer clear of that deadbeat!), think about what is best for your child. My girl is 3.5 years old. She's too young to split Halloween in half. She'll go trick-or-treating for an hour, an hour and a half at most, and then be ready to split in two. How do you divide that time up without making a kid nuts? You can't. Kids don't ask for their families to end. Kids don't ask for the divorce to happen — usually.
My daughter tells me, "I wish we could be a family again in Mommy's house."
All she wants is her family back, and I can't give her that. In fact, it's better off that we're not together — that happy pumpkin-picking family of three — because we just don't work, no matter what we do.
While I would choose being married over divorced any day, we chose for her to have two happy parents who are not together, rather than two unhappy parents who are.
There does come a time, however, that both my ex and I need space. We recently agreed to do big events and birthdays together, but to slow down on the other small activities. Why? No matter how amicable we are, being happy together and doing things so constantly as a family is hard on me — and her. I left our pumpkin trip thinking, "Why can't we be a family again? Why can't we make this work?" It felt like I was grieving for days after each trip. I thought to myself, "If it's hard on me, how is it not hard on her?"
We will never be a family again. All we can do is try to make the two of us, opposite ends of the spectrum, work together so that our daughter, her life, her puzzle pieces form a new picture that's clear enough with as little jagged edges as possible.
So no matter how nasty your ex is or how hurt you might be, try to look beyond your relationship and put your focus on your kid. If it's just for one holiday or one birthday, let your child enjoy the moment without wondering if mommy and daddy are going to lose their cool. Even if being around that person feels like Chinese water torture, just remember that it's only one hour, three hours, or five hours . . . and then you can go home, all for the sake of your child.
After the ghouls, goblins, and witches are to bed, reward yourself. Just unwrap a Kit Kat, Twix, or Snickers, and eat the chocolate, ladies. You can drink a glass of wine (or five) to reward yourself for putting on your big-girl panties and being a great mom.
Product Credit: Pottery Barn Kids Costumes