Despite my harmonious relationship with my ex, we still have conflicts, disagreements, and occasionally hurt each other’s feelings. Just yesterday we butted heads over who would take the kids on Wednesday night. I am heading home to Northampton after being in California for five weeks and, frankly, I can’t wait to get some time to myself. Yes, we have had an incredibly fun vacation. Yes, my family has entertained and cared for the kids. Yes, I love all the togetherness time, but I am also dying for a break from being a solo parent (my heart goes out to the single moms and dads who don’t have help from a co-parent).
My ex keeps telling me how much he misses Jonah and Layla, so I assumed (never assume, never assume) that he would want to have them our first night back in town even though it’s not his usual night. So I made plans with a girl friend to go to yoga and then to her house afterwards. I mentioned this to my ex on the phone the next time we talked (in the midst of Chinatown while waiting for a cable car and with a dragon parade in the background, perhaps not the best venue for this), and he said, sure they can stay with me…after yoga (did I mention that he goes to my yoga studio too? There are a few stories there.) So I got a little pissy about the fact that he has had five weeks free of parental duties and thought couldn’t he miss yoga this one time. He said we’ll talk about it later.
At that moment I had two options. Get mad at him for not immediately accepting my proposal or just let it go. Okay, I think we all know that the second option is preferable, but it’s not always easy. So here is what I told myself to feel better about it.
1) We arrive after midnight on Wednesday morning and my ex is picking us up at the airport. He doesn’t have to do that, but he does it because he is still family. He can’t wait to see the kids and is willing to miss some sleep and inconvenience himself to see them as soon as possible. Oh…and he kinda misses me too.
2) Yoga is important to his wellbeing. I can’t argue with this because it is important to mine as well. A friend has asked me to do a blog piece about the benefits of hot yoga, and I will someday, but for now suffice it to say that it makes us both calmer and less reactive, which are very good things. When my daughter complains that I am going to yoga, I tell her that I am a better mama because of this practice and that she should be glad that I do it. I can’t be hypocritical now.
3) I can go to the gym instead. I want to do a little more cardio anyway and the kids love the childcare at the gym so we could just do that instead and be quite content.
4) My ex is fond of his routine. Many divorcees have custody arrangements that are set in stone, and they have to consult their attorneys to make any temporary changes for travel or whatnot. Thank God we’re not like that. We are flexible with each other’s needs, but we also both tend to like to stick to the routine that we have in place, and Wednesday nights are my nights with the kids. The positive side of this is that my ex is reliable and I can always count on him to take the kids on his nights.
5) Is this worth picking a fight over? This is a question that I ask myself frequently (frankly I should have asked it more when we were married). This is where I have made the biggest strides. I have learned that there are very, very few issues that are worth fighting over. Sure, we all want our own way, but is that really going to get us what we ultimately want, which is a peaceful co-parent relationship that allows us (and more importantly the kids) to continue to have a happy family experience?
So one of the keys to my peaceful divorce is that more often than not, I let things go. Because it is best for the kids. Because it is best for family harmony. Because it is best for me. And, most importantly, if I really think about it, there is always a way to make it a win-win situation for everyone.