Preface: I try to write my blog so that if my ex-husband, mother or worst enemy ever stumbled across it, I wouldn't regret a word I wrote. I try to be real, but I also try to respect the privacy of people. Dissing my ex on the internet doesn't make me a better or funnier person.
Once you have children with the wrong person, you are pretty much screwed. If you stay with them, you raise children in an unhappy home, and role-model bad relationships, thus continuing the cycle. It can be extremely hard to parent the way that you want to when you are in a bad relationship. Yet, if you go, you and your children are torn between two lives. I would never advocate to anyone that they should leave or stay, because it is up to each person to decide which of the bad outcomes they can live with. Parents, in general, are wracked with doubt and guilt, and single parents especially so.
My ex was not the right man for me, and although it took him awhile, he has said that I was right to leave and that we never would have worked, and it was better to separate when the boys were too young to have a traumatic memory of our divorce. They have had two houses for as long as they can remember, and that's just their reality. It sucks, but life sucks in different ways for different people, and they do love making out like bandits with two Christmases, Easters, and birthdays. Childhood scars most all of us in one way or another. You just make the best decision you can at the time, and save money to pay for therapy later. (that's a line of my mother's, I must admit.)
I will also say that my ex has become a far better parent since we split up than he ever was when we were together. The boys get real substantial daddy time, and he has done his share of feedings, diapering, dealing with throwing up kids, and entertaining bored kids whereas when we were together I just dealt with all that. They have a stronger relationship with him now that I think they would have if we had stayed together.
BabyDaddy and I function well together as separated co-parents. We go to parent-teacher conferences together, sit together at school events, and take the kids trick-or-treating together every year, but we don't hang out, or talk much except about parenting. We do discuss kid issues and try to come up with solutions together, so that the children get the same messages at both houses. We do ok, better than many, I'm sure, but we are not friends.
It's always unsettling when someone goes from being your 24/7 partner to what feels like a total stranger. I have had many moments (and I am sure he has too) where I look at him and wonder how we ever managed to life together for as long as we did. In the four years we have been apart, we have both become different people with less in common than ever. Still, no matter what, we both share the parenting of the same children, and in that respect, we will always have common ground, not just as parents, but as people. The same little beasties are affecting us as much as we are them. Occasionally, though, we still have moments of connection.
My ex called me last night to tell me that a co-worker of his had committed suicide. The coworker left behind a wife and several children. My ex said, "You are not allowed to kill yourself. I know we are divorced and supposed to hate each other, but if you are ever on the ledge, I will help you off. You can always call me if you get to that point. The kids need a mother as much as they need a father. And if I am on the ledge, and have absolutely no one else, I would call you, and I know that you would help me."
To me, this agreement that even though we don't work, our children need both of us, and we need to ultimately help the other person in time of distress was bittersweetly beautiful. I am glad that I don't live in fear of my ex trying to take the kids away from me, nor does he worry about me doing the same to him. We both mucked up our marriage, but we are still inherently decent people. I may not have chosen the right man for me, but apparently, I chose the right father for them.