Generation X’rs. Were you aware that we are called the “Divorce Generation”?
More families from the baby boomer generation were brought up in divorce then any other generation in history. That is my parent’s generation. Luckily for me they did not get divorced.
However their children, Gen X kids, people like me, the product of their generation, are slowly becoming the most “divorced” generation in history today. And not just one divorce, but multiple divorces seem to be a product of our society.
So what happens when divorce happens?
When you get divorced the rules of society say that you’re supposed to dislike the person that your ex ends up with after you. Right? So what happens when you don’t follow that rule?
Believe me, like many of you, my first instinct when finding out that my ex-husband had a new girlfriend was to hate her. As women, we are so full of rage infused drama that we are almost trained to think that way. Women are the enemy.
So believe me I tried going through that phase. I didn’t get to know her. My instant gut reaction was to pretend like I had to defend my family and my son against this other woman putting herself upon my family.
I wanted her to be hideous, to be a monster, to be someone who was undeserving of my sons respect and love. And then I met her.
Damn if she wasn’t beautiful. She sat at a table watching my ex-husband and I interact as old friends and interject her own opinions in the most appropriate ways. Damn if she didn’t show up to every soccer game she could, yelling from the sidelines rooting him on right next to us. Damn if she wasn’t the opposite of the person I expected her to be.
Even though after our divorce I moved onto my own relationship. At first it hurt me knowing that she was spending time with my son. I think at first maybe I questioned my son, looking for signs that she didn’t deserve to be in his life.
But then I saw them together. A picture of my son and this other woman smiling and having a great time together. And for a moment, I was jealous. That this woman was spending time with my son and trying to be my replacement.
But that was my own insecurities out there in the world. I was putting upon her the fears that I had inside myself. I wasn’t seeing the reality that his time with her was genuine. That his smile was genuine. That there was no dirt to dig up about her that would change the way he saw her.
And so there came a day when I accepted every part of her. A day where I put my self in her shoes, a woman being the best person she could be for a child who was not her own. One day that could be me. How would I want that other man’s ex-wife to see me? As a monster? Or as someone who was genuinely trying to be a solid, positive force in the life of a child who belonged to the man that she loved?
I no longer felt insignificant, I no longer felt hatred, or jealousy, or concern. I felt compassion. Compassion and understanding for a woman who loved a man that I used to love, and who is now loving my child just the same.
The tides had turned. I no longer looked at her as the enemy. What my son and I and his father had was over. And we all accepted that. My son was not blind to the fact that our divorce finalized our separation. But I refused to allow him to believe that it precedented a divide between myself and his dad and whatever family either of us developed beyond that divorce.
And so now I welcome my version of the modern family. One where all parents accept each other for exactly who they are. With respect and love because we are all doing the best we can to move on.
My wish is that as women, we can find a way to accept the person that the man we once loved found fit to love after us.
She is not the enemy. She is not a replacement for us. She is the person that we want sitting next to us on the sidelines of the soccer game screaming at the referees and laughing and celebrating the success of “our” child.
So this might sound weird, but I’m thankful for her. I am thankful that my son gets to see his daddy be happy, and laugh, and enjoy life, in a way that might never have been possible if he hadn’t met this woman.
I am thankful for a woman who takes my son into her life as her own child. Someone who will love, and guide, and encourage him on days when he isn’t with me. Someone who will love him in a motherly way when his mother isn’t around.
So when my son looks up from the bench of a soccer game, or during a performance with the choir at school, or on his graduation day, and sees his dad and his mom and his stepmother cheering and smiling and rooting him on, he will know that we are a team and we are there for him. As odd as it may seem to some, it is more than natural to us.
Because we are united force. And our only goal is to love and support the child that we are all raising together.
Though it may feel uncomfortable at first, time will change us. We will find a common ground and this coparenting thing will come as natural as breathing. And I am thankful that I know that my ex-husband chose a woman mature enough to see how bright the future can be.
I ask those of you who have kids and have an ex, to embrace her. Accept her. See yourself in her shoes and find common ground for the children you are raising together. Because in the end, 20 or more years down the road, those kids will always remember who was there for them. How they treated and talked about each other. And that will mold them in a way that we may never understand.
The other woman or man is not the enemy. They are the standard. That are how our children learn to cope in a society that is primarily based on divorce. Do you want your kids to go to school and through life talking about how their parents and their stepparent talk about each other? Or do you want them to be that shining light that everyone envies when they talk about how their parents and their stepparents embrace each other?
So I’m asking you to love her. Respect her. Accept her. Put yourself in her shoes and do what’s best for your children. The other woman is not your enemy. She should be your closest ally.
Because in the end, it’s not about you or her or him. It’s about he children you are raising. Together.
So ask her to call you. Ask her to spend time with you and the kids. Ask her to consult with you when your kids want another person to talk to that isn’t you. Ask her to be your friend. Because when it’s all over, love and trust transcend marriage and divorce.
So I arrogantly say…. my ex’s fiancé is better than yours. Because she is beyond everything I expected her to be.
She is not my enemy. She is the person standing by the side of the person my child loves just as much as me. And in that respect, she is just as important to my child as I am.