â€œThe divorced person is like
a man with a black patch over one eye: He looks rather dashing but the
fact is that he has been through a maiming experience.â€ – Jo Coudert
I spent Memorial day weekend alone. My sons were scheduled to be with their dad. My mother had asked me to come down and visit. Other friends had invited me to picnics. I decided to stay home.
Putting aside the fact that I needed to plan for the viewing and recovering from watching my daughters graduation, I just really wanted to be alone. I spent Monday decorating the built in china cabinet in my dining room. Again, being a rental I am limited in my ability make custom, personalized changes. This includes colorful painting. All of my previous homes were quite colorful. To give my china cabinet a bit of pizazz I created backers for the shelfs. Very easy. Purchased paper, cut to size, mount with poster putty to the back of shelf. See picture.
I picked up the paper at our neighborhood Michaels Crafts. The store is located very near to my ex husbands home.
On my way back, I stopped by, unannounced, to drop off my sons backpacks. Ex was planning on coming to get them in the morning before school. Since I was in the neighborhood, I thought I would do him a favor and just drop them off.
As I exited my car and popped my trunk, I noted my oldest sons backpack was not there. Assuming I had already been seen, I felt odd to just leave without announcing myself. So I took my youngest sons backpack to the house and my ex husband met me at the door. Actually, he met me outside the door.
That was my first sign.
My second was his statement:
"What are you doing here?".
I explain my intent, how I thought I was doing him a favor, as I step over the threshold of his front door and into his living room.
There in the living room I find my two sons and some woman I have never met.
I was a bit surprised. I felt like I had walked in on someone having sex. My oldest son and the woman sitting on the couch were clearly uncomfortable.
I was startled to see this woman but continued chatting, hugged my boys, told them about the backpacks, why I stopped by and exchanged a few short pleasantries about the weather. Husband never introduced her to me. I could have probably introduced myself but it was very clear who I was since the boys screamed "HI MOM!" as I entered. Awkward. Odd.
This is the first time since my divorce I have seen my husband – and my sons – in the company of a woman I don’t know.
We had agreed during our divorce that if one of us started dating we would tell the other so that we could be prepared to answer the children’s questions and possible confusion. I also feel strongly that I have a right to know who my sons are around. Same is true for my ex. It has always been my plan that if I ever date again, I would not introduce that person to my sons unless it was serious. Children need to know how people fit in their lives. I don’t want them to be confused and thinking Mommy is out shopping for a new Daddy every time I get asked out (which btw, has only been once in the past year since my divorce). I have no plans on discussing casual dates, male friends, etc. with my sons. It is just my view. However, again, should I get serious, like ever, I would let my ex know so he could be prepared for any backlash or such from the kids.
Considering our agreement on this topic, I was a bit surprised to see this woman there. In later discussions with my ex, he insisted she was just a friend, they weren’t dating and I was over reacting. I really wasn’t over reacting. In fact, I felt he was more so. He seemed upset that I was taking to the idea of him dating so easily. My only objection was that I did not know so that I could be prepared for the kids. NOT that it might be happening. I was concerned he wasn’t sticking to our agreement and that my children may have been exposed to something or someone I was not aware of. My oldest son is incredibly intuitive, sensitive, etc. I worry about his feelings – a lot.
Again he insisted not dating, not interested, just a friend. I was fine with that. I don’t care if he is.
In explaining this to another friend she says:
"How can you be fine with that? Why doesn’t it bother you that your ex-husband may be on the path of replacing you?"
I smiled. I had already thought about this at length. I also wondered why I was not jealous, envious or insecure. My only concern was the children.
"I have already been replaced and have managed to accept it. My daughter got a new mommy at three days old. I live with that every day. My ex husband having a new woman in his life pales in comparison. The author Margaret Atwood says that "divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there’s less of you" I have found that to be very true. Losing your child to adoption is even worse. Being replaced, ignored, denied and having your name eradicated from a birth certificate tends to make a dating ex husband mean little to nothing. I have survived worse."
She smirked and shook her head.
"Wow. What do I say to that?" she asked.
"Say you agree and get me another cup of coffee" I said.