I often forget how truly unique my divorce relationship with my ex-husband of 8+ years is. He and I have managed to forge a very different path after our divorce, and while it’s common for us, I now realize more and more how uncommon it really is. Yesterday’s events in my life were just another example for me that, although he and I weren’t meant to be together as husband and wife, we are definitely friends who have the others’ backs.us.
The day had been going along as usual – with ease, flow, joy, and all of it with pleasure. I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few items for my son who was returning to my house for the week (we share visitation 50/50) before heading to his school to join the after-the-bell pick up ritual. Backed into my parking space, windows down, breeze blowing through, car turned off, radio playing – I waited for him. He arrived and slid into the front seat in his usual middle school temperament, somewhat aloof and minimally interested in his mom for half a second. As I turned the key forward to start the ignition – all the air seemed to be sucked out of my lungs. Nothing but “tick” was the sound we heard. I tried again; “tick”. Nada, zero, zilch. My beloved Goldie (my steadfast and trusted chariot Yukon) was done. She didn’t have another ounce of juice in her to get up and go.
I immediately went into “Now what?” mode. I attempted to text a friend who often ride-shares with us, but I couldn’t reach her. None of the other mom’s I know was available to possibly give me and my son a ride home. I called my ex-husband at work and asked him what he thought it might be. As I suspected and hoped, it was most likely the battery. That’s an easy enough and affordable enough fix, I exhaled. The challenge in that moment was dealing with a hungry, tired and sullen 6th grader who had no patience for the unexpected events of the day. As I attempted to reassure and encourage him, he dug his heels in further and ensured I knew just how miserable this turn of events was making him. Welcome to the world of pre-teen angst! My ex wasn’t able to get off work at that moment, but he had no qualms with my recommendation that we walk to his home where our son is half the time, and wait for him to get off work (it’s closer than the 3+ miles to my house, which includes crossing a highway and mega traffic). Mind you, the walk is a mere mile in the same neighborhood, but you would have thought I had asked my son to be beaten and flogged-the horror! “Walk? A mile? With my mom? When all I want to do is eat , text my friends and play video games?” are the thoughts I was pulling out of his head.
Grabbing the milk I’d just bought at the grocery store so it wouldn’t spoil, my purse and my phone that now had no charge left in it, we set off across the parking lot and off to his father’s house. The walk was a quiet one, as the kid wouldn’t say one word to me; not a peep. “How was so and so today?” Silence. “You know, it’s rude and unacceptable that you not even respond to my questions, even if you say that you don’t want to talk.” Silence. I relented and stopped attempting to engage him. Rather than fall into the common rut of all the things that could be wrong with my vehicle, how much it might cost, how might it all come together, or not, I decided to dig out my tools and techniques and use them with extra gusto on the quiet mile walk to my ex-husband’s home. I’m a content, happy, joyful and enthusiastic person by nature. I am always in question for greater, for more and to have magic show itself to me daily, but this afternoon I was feeling the edges fray just a bit. It had been so long since something of any difficulty had come up like this in my world. I launched into questions like,
“What’s right about this that I’m not getting?
What’s the gift in this I’m not seeing?
Universe, please show me what else is possible.”
I then proceeded to list off anything and everything I was grateful for in that very moment. And wouldn’t you know it, I was able to stay positive, remain calm and I was able to focus on maintaining the energy that “everything truly is ok and is always working out in my favor.” My top of the list in that moment was that I had the relationship with my ex that allowed me the ability to do what we were doing.
We arrived at the house a little warmer and sweatier, but none worse for the wear. I put the milk in the refrigerator and headed upstairs with my son to wait the few hours for his dad to get off work. I managed to rest in the cool room, enjoy a cold glass of ice water, play with the resident dog, a precious boxer named Harley and take care of some email on my phone that was now charging, thanks to my son’s charger. When my ex arrived home, he was laughing and jovial and was eager to assist. He gave me a hug when I mentioned our son’s demeanor all afternoon, then out the door we went. Sure enough, it was a dead battery and after quite a bit of maneuvering to get the battery removed from the engine compartment, we loaded it up and headed to the auto parts store around the corner. Returning back with a brand new battery, he had it installed and running in no time. Whew! Back to the house to pick up my son, we hugged and said our goodbyes.
Driving home at last, my son and I were finally speaking and we were both showering Goldie with appreciation and affection. My son actually expressed out loud one of the things that I was grateful for – that she hadn’t conked out while I was at the grocery store, or far away from home, or in a situation that could have been dangerous. It truly was a blessing. I love that my son is learning how powerful gratitude is. I love that he talks to our belongings and things as much as I do. I love that he is the gift that came to both me and his father.
How many other exes can say they are not only able to call their ex for assistance, but also be able to crash at their home for several hours before they arrive, ride in a car and have normal conversation with them about life, work with them to get the problem resolved, talk about who they are dating now, and yes, hug one another with genuine care? Since these are acts that are more normal for us than not, I forgot that for most people, it’s a rarity. We share birthday celebrations together, work with holidays and other scheduling with ease, we show up at events and sit together and basically, present a united front, yet we live apart. It works. And it works well.
I’d invite anyone who is considering divorce, or who is divorced to take stock in how you treat your spouse/former spouse. Is it with respect and regard? Or with disrespect and disdain? I love that my son is healthy, well-adjusted, doing exceptionally well in school, is active with extra-curricular events, has a great social circle and knows 1,000% that his parents both have his back and are there for him – united. That’s due to me and my ex-husband working every single day to not put the other down, to ask how we can support and assist the other, to communicate about things that matter where our son is concerned and to choose to be happy, no matter what. It’s a choice and it takes commitment. It hasn’t always been easy, but it is always worth it. And moments like these remind me that I am fortunate and that my conscious action to take a different road where divorce is concerned has rewarded me with blessings beyond what I could have imagined. I’m just grateful and I invite you to choose more of that too, if you’d like. By the way, ex-husband, enjoy the milk. It’s in the fridge right where I left it.
With all my heart - XO,
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