Saturday, August 06, 2005

Well tonight the kids, their dad, and his parents come over for a BBQ. My son's birthday is next Tuesday and we'll do an early family celebration with his grandparents here.

I was out early with the dog this morning walking in the neighborhood and met a former neighbor who apparently cheated on his wife a couple of times and then refused to see his part of the problem such that his wife divorced him. They have two kids, not far apart in age from mine, and he was picking up a bicycle at the mom's house. He asked if I knew the mom and kids were moving, about 30 miles away, and I said yes, and sympathized about the extra distance for him. He looked pretty bummed and commented that he had just bought a condo within a mile of their old house to be near the kids and yet, well, the mom had the "right" to move away. I like the mom a lot, and understand why she'd want to move to the new place, its much closer to the new boyfriend, and is more of a small town.... but I felt sad for their dad. He even works much closer to the new place than the old house. You could say he earned this "punishment" by cheating in the first place, but that idea bugs me.

A work associate spent the first half hour of a meeting recently explaining some of the problems she has had with her husband's ex-wife and their kids. The ex seems to do everything she can to make things difficult for all involved, including sabataoging her kids' relationship with their dad. It seems that every interaction is filled with vindictiveness and victimhood.

I guess I must live by different rules. Maybe that's a problem, at one point a boyfriend complained that my kids' dad had more say in my life than he did. This wasn't true, but it was and is true that I will not move my children far away from their dad or change their schedule of spending half time with him. Its meant I've passed up on some good job and romantic opportunities. I don't feel bad about that though. I respect his role as my children's dad, I think he does a great job. And even though I pretty well tore his heart into shreds in my decision to end the marriage, my blame in that doesn't seem to enter the equation in how he treats me. Every couple of years one of us comes across a job opportunity out of town and there is a conversation laden with unsaid implications... would you consider moving to Seattle? But I think he knows that even though I have the "right" to move the kids away, that I wouldn't do it to him, that before I'd take a job, he'd have to agree to move too. I think this will be the case until the kids get out of high school.
I don't know for sure if he'd say the exact same thing, but I think he would. I guess we both see that even though we ended our marriage, we didn't end our responsibility to co-parent.

So his mom and dad haven't been to my house since the divorce - they live out of town and typically we have met at a restaurant when they visit here. I am looking forward to having them over, and I think they are excited to come. I also think there are going to be some strange moments for them, as a lot of things have changed here since it was their son's home too. Some things haven't though. They might think that I got out the family pictures of them with my kids, their son with my kids and parents, and their daughter just for their visit. But those pictures are always out. I spent twenty years with these people as family, and really that hasn't changed. Which is exactly what I told his mom as she cried over our decision to divorce. I guess I don't see that connection as contractual so much as sacred, and I hope we can always go on caring about each other.

I know that other divorces can't work like this, that there is too much hurt and betrayal involved. But I'm thankful mine isn't like that. Sometimes things are awkward but its worth it.

I'm making the BBQ'ed lemon chicken Lisa provided a recipe for.

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