Monday, April 15, 2013

Who DOES that?

You know I don't usually write about stuff that didn't happen directly to me. But I WAS there to witness a...situation, and then discuss it after with some women who were also there, so I thought I'd write about it.

I've never been divorced or divorced with a child. But I'm friends with a lot of people who have been divorced. And I used to be a counselor for teenagers who almost all had divorced, separated or never married parents for most of their lives. It was tough. I saw things through those childrens eyes, hearts, and minds. Nevermind the relationship issues between the divorcing couple, but when there is a child or children involved, there just seems to be some unspoken (or should-be-spoken) rules there. I would think the bottom line of the whole thing should be to shield the children as best as possible by both parents.

E is in an extracurricular class where there are three classes going on at once in different rooms. All the parents are in very close quarters in the waiting area. We all know each other pretty well at this point. Some of us have been coming for one year, some two and some three, I think. We all sit and talk and know a decent amount about each other's private lives. We don't talk in a gossipy way- we just share how women do when you're getting to know each other.

One woman I really like has a daughter a year older than E. She went through a nasty divorce. Sometimes the ex-husband is there but I hadn't realized they were divorced. She had never said a bad word about him. But after witnessing what looked like a very quiet but tense exchange once at the end of class, we got to talking and she gave some clearer details. The husband cheated with multiple women. I'm not sure how she found out but I know it was true. One was a woman he knew in college and had dinner with once while he was married. The wife knew about the dinner but didn't know there was anything else going on. They finalized the divorce in May 2012 and he got married, in another country, WITHOUT HIS DAUGHTER in June 2012.

My friend found out, at their mediation in August 2012 that he had gotten remarried. Three months to tell her? You don't think that's pertinent information for the mother of your child to know ahead of time- maybe to gauge their daughter's feelings on it? See if she's ok, if she understands? How do you get married without your daughter? How does this woman not insist on making his daughter a part of the wedding to make her feel like she's still part of his family?? How do you explain to your daughter you just got married to a new woman? The child is five. She's going to notice. She may not understand marriage or divorce now but she's going to understand later that her father and his wife didn't include her in the starting of their new life together. Who DOES that??

Why am I bothered by this? Well, put yourself in the ex-wife's shoes. Nevermind that he cheated with this woman because that's just an extra thorn. But, they're divorced- it is what it is. But now my child is involved with this woman as a stepmother and I never even met her? No. That is not appropriate co-parenting. I feel that as a parent, and as common courtesy, I should know the people my child is going to be around like that. It doesn't have to be a big deal and obviously I can't veto the remarriage but I want to know anyone that's going to be spending a significant amount of time with my child. I want to make sure they're nice, caring, and I want a gut feeling about the person. Granted, if she was ok being shady and breaking up a family like that, there are a few gut feelings I could see having. But in seriousness, I just want to be fully aware of what's going on. And I think that's fair. I want to be able to continuously make sure my daughter is ok emotionally, physically, mentally when she comes back from being with them. I just feel like it's the parents duty to keep each other in the loop of anything going on in either home that has the potential to affect our child in any negative way. It's not about allowing juice or extra tv time. It's not petty to want to be in the know about my young child's parental figures and how she's responding, when she's not with me.

But the real kicker of this whole thing. We, the moms, are sitting in the waiting area, waiting for class to begin when the ex-husband walked in with the new wife. The new wife and the ex-wife- my friend, NEVER MET. Of course this woman is dressed to the nines, big blond hair, black skinnies, boots, etc., all on a weekend morning. One of the other moms, who knows the situation, just looked at me and spoke volumes with her eyes. As I did right back. I mouthed, "Who DOES that?!". THEN, then our friend walked in and I see her notice them, look at me, and I could just see the stricken look on her face. It's not that she cares about the guy, but this is NOT the place to meet the other woman/new wife! First of all, my friend, who is always done up, even in the morning, looking beautiful and put together, was in yoga pants and a fleece jacket. I've never seen her dressed down. Hey- I'm sorry, but she earned the right to be able to look fabulous the first time she meets this woman. Give a girl some warning. My friend didn't look "bad" by any means, but I know that's just not how she wanted to look the day that went down. To add insult to injury, ex-husband and new wife were all touchy-feely, he's rubbing her back and they're all leaning into each other. NO ONE is doing that in there. Then, the new wife comes up to my friend and introduces herself. The other moms and I were all just sitting on the floor bugging out. One of the other moms who had just learned of the scene going on in front of us gave our friend a lot of credit. She said she has a hot Italian temper and she would've been on them both like a spider monkey.

How does someone feel okay doing that?? If that was me, in the new wife's position, I'd have said to him- "Hey, I don't think it's really appropriate for me to just show up at your daughter's class with her mom there. We haven't officially met, it's awkward, you're both there to support your daughter and I wouldn't want to feel ambushed like that in her shoes. Drop me at Starbucks across the street, talk to her while you're there, and see if she's cool meeting at Starbucks after class since I'm here. If she says yes, great. If she says no, we'll make a plan for another time." That's what someone with a clue and some class does. Not just show up at the class, thrust your relationship, your long blond hair and tall boots in the ex-wife's face at her daughter's activity.

There are effective, appropriate, courteous ways to co-parent. I'm lucky that B didn't have any kids from his first marriage because I know it's a difficult road to navigate. But common sense should dictate what you should and shouldn't do. Kids pick up on everything. I'm sure a 5-6 yr old child could pick up on tenseness, anger, hurt, surprise, etc. Why even put your child in that position. Sure, you're married to this new person but there are ways to go about things that don't seem like purposeful daggers to the other person. You did love this person once. You share a child. Even if the circumstances of the divorce can't let things be friendly or amicable, you have to be able to get past that stuff when it comes to the child.

I will say my friend, the ex-wife, is the epitome of grace, class, and decorum, especially in public. I KNOW people who would've flipped their shit in a situation like that. Trust me- I KNOW people that I could guarantee there would be an ugly scene. My friend was perfectly cordial and nice even though I know she could've used a cocktail. Hell, we all could've used a cocktail. The rest of us felt awkward for the whole situation. She didn't say much, we talked about other things like nothing was going on around us, and she watched her daughter through the window.

I just think it was really weird and in really poor taste to just bring this woman in there and be all over her like teenagers going steady for no reason. I'm sure new wife could've been doing something else. Pick a time that's good for everyone and meet then. Ideally before you get remarried to someone you cheated with, but that's a moot point here. Definitely NOT in a crowded lobby with classes going on so everyone could watch your dirty laundry in 3D. Remember, you're there in the first place because of your child. Even if you're not in love with her mother anymore, she still IS the mother of your child and have some respect for everyone's space and feelings. Again, I understand there are three sides to every story but there are also facts. When you're coparenting, especially of a younger child, you want to be able to do it as seamlessly, carefully, and as emotionally healthy as you can. This just doesn't seem like a great way and I happened to see it all with my own eyes.

Use caution. Keep your immaturity in check. Kids remember things.

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