Isn’t it funny how the world works sometimes? I just post some thoughts on that transition from feeling in control to realizing that we really have none at all, and the very next day I get presented with a situation that not only reminds me that I have no real control and all the frustration that comes along with that, but also makes me think about what I can do in those types of situations.
I need to preface this story with the fact that I know my ex is not the most communicative person in the world (and I probably tend to over communicate), but we have been committed to positive co-parenting from the beginning, and as far as I can tell, we have better communication than almost every other divorced couple I’ve met. And for the record, I don’t think he forgets to share things with me on purpose. However, in the heat of the moment, I admit it doesn’t always feel that way.
Steve was planning to take the kids to the beach for the weekend. It was a few days before they were leaving, and Steve hadn’t mentioned anyone else going with them. Just because I am eternally curious, and Steve and I tend to have a pretty easy relationship, I casually asked if anyone else would be there. Yes, his friend from college. That makes sense. Roy is newly single and probably needs some support, and if he doesn’t have his kids, a long weekend can get lonely. I don’t like what Roy did to his wife and children, but this was a good friend and Steve was trying to be supportive. Steve had told me that I didn’t know all the facts and that things really weren’t as they seemed. Roy wasn’t completely in the wrong. Ok, benefit of the doubt and all…
Well, when they got to the beach after battling six hours of holiday traffic, Steve texted to tell me they were safe. “I hope Roy wasn’t waiting too long,” I replied. “No, Roy and his girlfriend are in Savannah for the night and will be here tomorrow morning.” This is when my heart started beating faster, my throat tightened and the reminder that I had zero control began to make itself known very clearly. Of course in the moment I felt deliberately deceived since Steve didn’t mention the girlfriend coming when I had asked, and he had to know I wouldn’t be ok with that choice.
Why was I so upset? Their divorce is their business. Was it simply the frustration of not being able to control every situation concerning my kids? I considered this, but I still couldn’t shake it. At this point I was getting angry with myself because I was so bothered. I probably should have just gone for a long run, but instead I told myself that if Roy’s wife was ok with the girlfriend being around HER kids, then I shouldn’t have any problem with this situation either. So, I called the wife.
Well, her side of the story was quite different from Roy’s. This girlfriend and her (current) husband were long time friends of the family. They had shared holidays with Roy and Ann, she coached Ann’s kids in sports rec leagues, Roy had told his wife three times that he was ending things with this woman and would try to work on their 21 year marriage. Roy had finally chosen this woman over his marriage. Ann was currently in the process of taking Roy back to court to revise custody since Roy refuses to see the kids without the girlfriend present.
Now, should I have a say as to whether or not this couple stays in the same house with my children over a holiday weekend? I lost this privilege when I got divorced. If I were still married, I easily would have said, “honey, your friend and his girlfriend can come to the beach for the weekend, but I think it would be best for them to get their own place to stay given the circumstances,” and that would have been the end of it. I wish Steve had brought this up with me beforehand; I wish that he would have picked a different weekend to have his friend and the girlfriend visit; maybe I just wish I had more control. (What I really wish is that I wasn’t so reactive to this situation!) I do know I should trust my kids’ dad to do what he thinks is best. My kids are smart, and my hope is that when presented with different situations, they will be able to see what is right or what is wrong for themselves. Perhaps situations like these are opportunities to help them form opinions and values and really think about how they choose to live their own lives.
Maybe I’m over–identifying with Ann, I just wish in some way I could have provided her more support. We aren’t even what I would call real friends, but having been through a divorce myself, I know that unconditional support is one of the greatest gifts I got during mine, and I think it really happened only twice. So, Ann, I will give you this—though I couldn’t kick Roy and his piece out on the streets, please know that I would have. I know there are two sides to every story, but I am going to pick yours, so just know that I will be here if you want to cry, scream or talk, and I will hate him right along with you. And if you decide to like him again, then I will too.