Tuesday, January 8

Coffee With My Ex's New Girlfriend

During my time off at Christmas I went out for coffee with my ex-husband's new girlfriend. Let me explain.

When we decided divorce was the best course of action, one of the things we both agreed upon was to make this as easy on the children as possible. When my parents got divorced it was tense and awkward ever after. It as been 30 years and I remember very clearly moments where I felt caught in the middle of arguments, bitterness, and hurtful words. The crazy thing is, it still happens every once in a while and it makes me feel just as sick to my stomach now as it did when I was a child. When parents bicker and fight and put children in the middle of their issues, it causes confusion and a mixed sense of loyalties. It is painful and it lasts a lifetime. I am still dealing with the after affects.

 I decided, if we could not break the cycle and have a successful marriage, then we were going to have the best divorce possible. One of the ways we were going to do this "right" was to be loving and accepting when the other person has moved on. So we agreed that when and if one of us found someone really special, and was ready to take the next step and have them involved with the children, then the ex would also meet them.

To me, it makes sense. If there is someone who is going to become a part of my childrens's lives,that means, indirectly and in some cases very directly, she will become a part of my life too. I don't want my children to ever feel like they have to pick favorites, or they need to defend their mother or father by being awful to a new person. I believe hate breeds hate and that is not welcome in our family in any form. And we are all still a family. We might look a little different and have more people in it then other families, be we are still a family with the goal of raising the best kids we can.

So, when my ex asked me to go to coffee with R, I agreed. I walked into the coffee shop and ordered my tea. I turned, put sugar in it, and walked over to the table with the only single woman in the place. I made sure it was her, we shook hands and I sat down. I think we were both a little nervous about each other at first but I assured her I was happy to meet her and we both relaxed into our seats and began to open up. 

She is lovely, She seems very nice and has a pretty smile. I love her hair and she dresses nicely. We sat and talked for over an hour. We laughed, shared stories and I told her things to expect with the upcoming arrival of her first baby this spring. There was one moment when she was talking that I felt a genuine surge of love for her and the baby and thought,"well done Drew, she is delightful. You picked well".

When it was all done, we said our goodbyes, and we went our separate ways. I wasn't ready to go home to an empty house yet so I went and walked around the mall to think and clear my head. I thought about what had just happened, what I had just done and after calling my friend Chealine and asking the obvious self pity questions of "what's wrong with me and why can't I find someone?" She reassured me I wont feel lonely forever, and one day it will be my turn.  After that I felt at peace with it and happy for them. 

I remember being a little girl never sure what to say around what parent. I remember feeling like I had to "take sides" and I hated how I felt when mean and hurtful words were said about people I loved. I felt scared and confused. My children will never encounter that. They will never know that anger and pain (if I have anything to say about it). They will never be unsure if it's okay to share stories about other family members. Hate breeds hate, and there will be no hate here. We are adults and we can and will do better. 

When I did finally drive home I kept daydreaming about what the future will look like for us all. What birthdays will look like with four parents and five children running around. What Christmas will be like and other things like graduations and weddings. I could easily see R and I talking and laughing about things over coffee or beer at a birthday. And not in the awkward and rigid way people do in situations they don't want to be in. But really talking and being comfortable with each other. I felt excited for the baby to arrive and it made me happy to think that my children will have a baby to play with and love. 

Mostly it made me happy to think that we are doing this the best way possible for us. And maybe one day I might find someone that will add to our unique family dynamic, with all it's flaws and grandeur. 


I am grateful for growth and learning. 

I am grateful that we are working on being the parents these children deserve. 

I am grateful Drew, R and I feel the same way about how we all want this to be. 

Today, I am grateful. 



Ken said...

When I was a kid, the people that lived across the road from us had a relationship like this. At Christmas and events, their ex's and new families would all come out and get together and celebrate the event happily.

For some reason, that seemed odd to me back then. You were supposed to hate the person that you divorced. But that doesn't have to be the case. Reading your view on things makes sense to me. For whatever reason people can't be together, doesn't mean they are bad people. (usually)Being able to put your differences aside for the sake of the children is commendable. Well done.

This is why you are a great mother. And also, will make some fellow very happy to have you as a partner one day. Even though you "pfffttt" me, every time I try to tell you that! ;)

J said...

Ken, I grew up with a set image that yes, when you get divorced it is indeed because one of the people is an awful awful person. Now as an adult I see how that is completely incorrect and ridiculous. When some people get divorced its because they just are not a good match. Nothing wrong with either of them, they just don't work well together. sigh... and I do pft you a lot don't I. Maybe because there are times when everything else in my life seems easy compared to that, that just seems almost too impossible!

Anonymous said...

Wish you could forward this to my ex and his new family. I tried so hard but it is two way street. I don't want to become "friends" but just be civil. Because when we are civil and getting along, the glow in my childrens spirit are remarkable. The world is becoming more of the untraditional family and we need to accept responsiblity for these childred in divorce. I wish more divorced couples would follow your footsteps. Mixed families would be so much happier.

Leah M said...

Well done J!!
That is so fantastic! I hope that someday, when I'm the 'R' in the relationship, that my counterpart will be as amazing as you!
Thanks so much!

MsK1984 said...

You truly inspire me Joelle, from your new radio career to your outlook on life....I truly wish one day I can have an attitude like you.


Mrs Sobbi said...

You are truly amazing Joelle.