When my ex-husband and I separated, we made a deal with each other — if one of us wanted the person we were dating to meet the kids, we had to meet them first.
I had no idea how this would go or if it would even be doable. However, we were both in agreement we weren’t going to introduce the kids to anyone we were casually dating. I’m not saying that’s a choice every divorced couple should make by any means. It was just something that was equally important to us both, and we agreed we would respect our kids and each other in this way.
When he started dating his girlfriend, it got serious and he fell in love faster than he thought he would. After meeting her, I knew my kids would love her and they did.
That was almost four years ago, and while things haven’t been roses and daisies every moment, she and I have stayed together at Lacrosse games, we always text each other a Happy Mother’s Day, and we have no problem being in each other’s company.
In fact, my ex and I will be having a small gathering when our son graduates from high school in two months at the house she shares with my ex-husband, and we are both looking forward to it.
It took me quite a bit longer to meet someone and feel comfortable enough to have them spend time with my kids. But when I met him, I was glad I’d waited.
After realizing we were going to do this thing for real — neither of us had dated anyone else with kids — I told him about the deal I’d made with my ex-husband, not sure what he would think. He was unfazed. We had been together for a few months and knew we were in love. He wanted to meet my kids, and I wanted him to be a part of their lives too, so anything we needed to do to make it comfortable for all, we did willingly.
The two of them met over a year and a half ago. And while dating in your 40s when you both have busy careers and four teenagers between you, there are a lot of things that can go wrong.
However, I feel so thankful that my ex-husband and the man I am in love with are able to stand outside my house when we are doing drop-offs with the kids and shoot the shit.
There’s no tension, and there have been a few times when I’ve left their conversation because I’ve gotten cold or had other things to attend to.
My boyfriend doesn’t have to go with me when I drop off my kids to their dad’s, but he does.
He doesn’t have to come outside and say hello to him, but he does.
My ex doesn’t have to stay in the driveway or talk to him, but he does.
He and his girlfriend don’t have to come out of their house or approach the car if we are dropping off the kids and they are working outside, but they do.
It would be easier to avoid each other, to not make an effort, or give a simple wave.
A few weeks ago, while they were talking about a city where they both used to live and I was bringing groceries in the house, my kids were outside playing with the family ducks. I stopped and looked back at these men, these two men I am so lucky to have in my life, and realized how lucky my kids were to witness this.
They don’t say anything about it and perhaps they don’t give it a second thought. But their father and my boyfriend are giving them a gift.
They are showing them there doesn’t have to be animosity between two people who have loved, and love, the same woman.
They are showing them it’s okay if a marriage ends because you can move on and continue to have healthy relationships.
They are showing them how to treat other people — with respect and kindness.
I’m not saying this situation is ideal for everyone. I know if I had been in love with my husband and he left me for another woman, it would be so hard for me to stand in her driveway and talk about handbags or the kids, as if my heart hadn’t been ripped out.
I know there are so many different variables when it comes to co-parenting, divorce, and dating. And however that’s dealt with is your choice.
I am saying I feel extremely lucky to have these two people in my life, and more than that I’m glad my kids get to see this example.
I am surrounded by love, and it isn’t lost on me.