Well, do you, Mom?
I don't get that question very often anymore. I guess that is a testament to one of two things: either I'm handling myself with a lot more decorum than I used to, or the kids have become adjusted to their strange but not so uncommon family situation.
But every once in a while, one of them will ask. And I always answer the same way.
I tell them that hate is a small but powerful word, rife with meaning and emotion. I tell them that it's a word best saved for the really big things in life.
I give them a list of the things which I do hate: sickness, suffering of living things, oil spills and the Costco parking lot.
Their dad? No hate there. There were some brief flashes of hate-like feelings, most notably when things that were kept hidden from me first started crawling out of the woodwork like nightmarish termites, but that passed. Even then, it wasn't so much HIM that I hated rather than the feeling that I'd been made to look like a fool. I hated the humiliation. But that passed, too. What I feel now is more of a mellow dislike. Kind of like how I feel about this crappy weather we've been having here lately: It sucks, yep. But what can you do about it? Nothing.
I never, ever, EVER want my kids to feel as though they are the products of anything other than two people who loved each other. I make sure that they know how much they were wanted, and how happy their father and I were to welcome each of them into our family. We look at old pictures every once in a while, pictures from way back in the day when Big Daddy and I were dating, and from early on in our marriage. Pictures from a different time. I tell them stories about how their dad and I used to laugh together, how we dreamed about our future, made plans together. They know that they were born into love.
Not to say that I've always been so Mary Freaking Poppins about this whole subject. I have let some zingers fly, said many things which I know I shouldn't have. When you first start going through a divorce, you are bombarded with tips and Top Ten lists of things you should and shouldn't do. There are books and websites and apps and boardgames that will tell you how many ways you can damage your kids while going through this arduous and soul-squashing ordeal. But the fact of the matter is, you don't know how you are going to react until you are deep in these muddy, dark trenches. Some days you do the right thing, many days you don't. All you can do is suck it up, explain yourself, and try again.
Hate is a selfish, cancerous emotion. Does way more harm to you than it does to anything or anyone that you claim to hate. It's best left alone.
Until you go to Costco.