For years, I believed that once the kids were raised, then we’d be done. I was wrong again.
I used to think that after my divorce, my ex-husband and I were done. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
With kids in the picture, there is endless entanglement.
When the rug of my marriage slipped from beneath my feet, my sons’ world tilted too. Never again would they hear their parents reminisce about happy times. Those stories were silenced as my ex and I began writing new, separate chapters.
That was 25 years ago. What I didn’t realize back then is that my ex and I would be destined to write chapters in the same book for the rest of our lives. The book with our kids as the main characters.
Some people divorce and their ex-spouse exits stage left. With kids, divorce is more of an entr’acte—an intermission. My ex has continued to share the stage with me; sometimes in the most unexpected ways.
Years after my divorce, I re-married. On my wedding day, I implored my 7-year-old son, “Please be on your best behavior today; this is a very important day.” My emphasis on the word “very” communicated volumes to him; because he responded with a heartwrenching question, “Wasn’t the day you married my dad important?” There I was, dressed all in white, gazing into my son’s face, and I realized that the pain of the divorce was summed up in that one question.
As my ex-husband’s image infringed on my wedding day to my second (and current) husband, I gently assured my son that my wedding day to his dad was an important day in my life also.
It’s hard to be positive about a person who took such a negative toll on my life. For my sons’ sake, I’ve had to do just that. I know that denigrating my sons’ dad would denigrate a part of them. Fifty percent of their gene pool is his. Thus, BS‑laden stories remain locked in the closet; and there they’ll stay.
While I can endure almost anything, I want to scream when I see my ex transgress against one of my sons. But I don’t scream. I acknowledge that my sons must navigate their own relationship with their dad; and my interference would make things more difficult.
For years, I believed that once the kids were raised, then we’d be done. I was wrong again. With a grandchild added to the mix, there’s added entanglement. My son is in the military and lives out-of-state with his family. Their visits are precious, few, and rushed. I’ve had my visits with my grandson cut short as he was ushered over to my ex’s home. My kids and grandson are not ropes in a tug-of-war; so I don’t tug. If I were to insist on my fair share of time, someone would get hurt. And those “someones” are the most important people in my world.
It’s been a long road parenting with a person I would have preferred exit my life 25 years ago. Never had I confronted the fact that I would be bound to my ex-husband in endless ways because we procreated two human beings together.
Despite the fact that my ex and I failed at our marriage, we have tried not to fail at parenthood. I feel that I’ve tried harder…that I’ve always tried harder. Maybe that’s because I’m more in tune with their feelings. If only I could have told my ex when he’s been unfair. But I couldn’t; and still can’t. Even now, knowing that my sons will read this essay, I’m cautious of what is written between the lines. So I smile. I support my children. I make the best of it.
My ex and I are destined to share the love of our children, and now our grandchild…‘til death do us part.
Aspiring first-time author, Holmes has experienced motherhood, divorce, single motherhood, re-marriage, stepfamily, low income, middle income. Her coming book is based on solid research, vast interviews, and personal experience. Her inspiration: her teenage daughter; and all females who struggle with assumptions others hold about their lives.