I suppose it’s universally known that divorce sucks, right? I mean, that’s no secret. And it’s worse when there are little kids involved. Again: not a secret.
But I’ve always had this rule, that I will do everything in my power to limit what the kids are exposed to. Dave and I go through phases where we get along, and phases where we don’t, but the kids don’t hear about it when we’re fighting. I never want them to feel like they’re being put in the middle, or forced to pick sides.
Since Dave lives in Seattle and we’re in North Carolina, I do whatever I can to try to facilitate the girls’ relationship with their dad. If they ask to have a FaceTime chat with him, unless it’s in the middle of the night, I always text him to see if he can talk to them. I try to make sure they get as much time with him as possible when he’s in town. Sometimes it’s inconvenient or hard for me personally, but I put my own feelings aside for their benefit. What am I going to say, “no I won’t text Daddy to see if he can chat, because I’m really annoyed with him right now”? He’s their dad, they have a right to a relationship with him, and the way I see it, it’s my job to help that along however I can.
I thought this was just a common sense rule of divorce. It seems so basic, doesn’t it?
It’s interesting, dating someone who is also divorced with kids, and seeing how other people handle the same life situations. And I have learned a lot about the kind of ex-wife I will never, ever be.
Chris told me ages ago when we first started dating that his ex-wife had some “anger issues” (phrasing it nicely), and I knew some stories of things that had happened between the two of them (and I’ve seen the court papers myself), but I naively thought that the kids weren’t exposed to any obvious hostility between the two of them.
I was wrong.
Based on his ex-wife’s behavior, I’m now coming up with a list of things that I vow to never do as a divorced mom. For example:
* I will never tell my kids that their dad doesn’t love them.
* I will never tell my kids that their dad didn’t want them.
* I will never call my ex-husband names in front of my kids.
* I will never tell them that they aren’t allowed to hug their dad.
* I will never tell my kids that if Daddy gets mad at them, they should call 911 and say that he’s trying to kill them. (No, really. I’m not making that up.)
This list could go on and on. There are also things that don’t involve the kids that I will never do. I mean, just as an example? I will never randomly text my ex-husband in the middle of a workday to call him a c*cksucker, for no apparent reason. Which has very little to do with my relationship with Dave, and more to do with the fact that I would never text anyone in the middle of a workday (or any other time, for that matter), just for the purpose of calling them a c*cksucker. I mean, honestly. That’s just rude. What would Miss Manners say?
Up until recently, I didn’t think that I had some superior moral compass or anything, I just thought that I was doing what all grown adults try to do when faced with a divorce while their kids are young. Now I’m wondering if her “do everything possible to alienate the kids from the other parent” scenario is more common. I really and truly hope that’s not the case, though. Because I cannot imagine how much that sucks for those two sweet kids.