Those Damn Parenting Holidays

When I was first divorced, Mother’s Day was agonizing for me. My son was just 16 months old, so for him the holiday was just another day (and trust me, I wasn’t expecting a card from him or anything). But for me, I spent the day thinking about how Mother’s Day is actually a holiday from the FATHER to the MOTHER. And I didn’t live with Zack’s father anymore. And I was still feeling like that was some kind of huge failure.

Fortunately for me, my amazing friend Kim (read more about her amazingness here) invited Zack and me to join her and her daughter and husband in their Mother’s Day brunch. I was so relieved not to be alone.

For the first Father’s Day, I handed off Zack to his father in our normal share-the-weekend routine, and I did manage to wish him a happy father’s day. And I meant it. Even though it was hurtful to see the way he was blooming as a parent without me—I’d had such a hard time to get him involved when we were still married—I was immensely grateful for what that meant and would come to mean to Zack. As I wrote in my book, if Chris had to pick one of us, he chose the right one.

This year, Zack and his dad are going to a baseball game in Brooklyn, to see the Cyclones play against the Yankees (!) on Coney Island. Zack will be wearing his baseball uniform, and attending with some of his baseball teammates and their fathers. I have to admit my heart swells a bit at this charmingly old-school father-son event. I feel like I should capture it in a sepia photo or something.

But for some people who’ve divorced, these holidays still awaken old hurts. Sometimes it takes years to get to the place where you can even consider celebrating the other partner. And since I don’t think everyone in the world had the kind of divorce I did, I want to send you on over to read a great, honest post by Moxie, about the tangle of Father’s Day for her, at the totally awesome blog she writes with her ex, Laid-Off Dad, When the Flames Go Up, about the perils of co-parenting with an ex-spouse you don’t particularly like.

Vive la difference! I really admire them both for the way they work through their could-be-ugly stuff with such dignity.

So much to say, so much to learn

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I think the surprise that has amazed me the most about my divorce is that it has been a pathway to so many really good lessons. And even now, when the divorce feels like old news (it was final in 2007), I’m still learning and discovering things about myself and about life that I wouldn’t have otherwise. As I wrote in my book, I don’t totally love having to learn some of these lessons, but I do really appreciate feeling wiser! Wisdom is a great way to offset some of the less satisfying aspects of aging (like those permanent dark circles under my eyes that have nothing to do with lack of sleep).

So for Babble.com, I wrote an article about how divorce has made me a better parent. Why not hop over there and give it a read? Comment here or there about what rings true to you and share other lessons you’ve learned. It’s very hard to usher one’s children into heartbreak years before their peers will have to experience it, but I do still really believe there’s a way to do it that just makes them—and us—more forgiving. And yes, more wise.