My camrade-in-divorced-arms and fellow writer, Tracy Schorn (aka "The Chump Lady") wrote a piece for HuffPost divorce about why we shouldn't feel bad if we're not exchanging friendship necklaces with our exes. And as I read it, I kept thinking about how tired I am of defending my decision to NOT be chums with my ex-husband every time a story about "Exies Who Are Besties" makes the social media rounds.
Case in point: The Hollywood Celeb's Guide to Harmonic Uncoupling. The latest duo to break up and join the rest of us here in Divorce Club are Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck. Jen (can I call her Jen? Since we both wear Danskos and are now both divorced, I think I can) recently had a very "read between the lines" interview in Vanity Fair magazine, wherein she says so much without really saying anything. She even drops the good ol' bless his heart line, which is the one reason I wish I was a southern belle. It just doesn't have the same feel when said in a nasally Midwestern accent.
Jen's interview was touching due to her insistence that while Ben may have very well been playing Hide the Sausage with their nanny, he's still the love of her life and because of how much their kids love him, she intends to stay friendly with him.
Most write-ups about that article include the words "classy" and "high road" but interestingly enough, only where SHE is concerned. Why are so many people insistent that those who are left to pick up the pieces be "the bigger person"? Where are the crowds encouraging the philandering spouses to take that higher road? To be the classy ones?
Is The High Road for ladies/the ones left behind only?
Every.Single.Article written about exes who are buddies is trailed by a string of comments proclaiming that "more divorced people should do this" and "people need to put their petty differences aside" and the ever-popular "you need to do what's best for the childrennnnnnn".
These comments kill me. They kill me because not all divorced people can be friends with their ex. Sometimes, those 'petty differences' are things like pride, self respect and dignity.
Sometimes, what's best for the kids is to see their parent be strong. Be proud. And not take any more shit.
Kids are not blind baby squirrels. They know what's happening, even if the gory details are kept under wraps (as they should be). They can read between lines, they see things we think we have hidden and above all they can sense who is making a real effort to be part of their lives.
When people ask me why I am not BFFs with my ex and his wife, I say to them: "If these people had broken into my home, beat me nearly to death, stolen my identity and anything else of value from me...and then on their way out, started the house on fire, would you be standing here scratching your head, wondering why I'm not making Sunday mother effing dinner for them?" Nope? Okay then. Now, maybe you can understand why they are not the first people I turn to when I need a friend.
As the old saying goes, with friends like that...you get the gist.
I don't disparage my ex and his wife in front of my kids. I have not, nor will I ever, stand between him and the kids. I encourage my children, even after all these years, to keep their hearts open where their father is concerned. The crappy stuff? That's between him and me. Period.
You know what other headlines make me twitchy? The ones about those who have mastered the art of co-parenting. For example:
Because apparently this is all some weird Hunger Games thing, right? Parenting after divorce isn't hard enough, now we have to worry about where the hell we place.
The term "co-parenting" implies two people working together. Co-workers, co-signers, co-stars. A team, a united front, two separate entities exerting equal amounts of effort to sustain something. Or someone.
For many of us, that "co" isn't there. If parenting was an airplane, I wouldn't have a co-pilot. I'd have a stowaway in the belly of the plane, who crawls out now and then to schmooze with the passengers and hand out stale bags of honey roasted peanuts. But the flying? Dude. I'm alone in that cockpit. It's not the way I envisioned it would be. It's not the perfect way.
But for now, it's my way. Our way.
And me talking about it here probably isn't taking the high road. It's most certainly not going to get me labeled as "Classy" and I can guarantee you not one person will comment "NOW THIS IS THE WAY ALL DIVORCED PARENTS SHOULD ACT!". I might be called bitter. I might be told to move on/get over it/be the mature one. I might not care.
For all of you who are in this same boat, who are struggling to just keep everyone and everything fine and happy, know you aren't alone. For those of you who have decided that being friends with your ex isn't your cup of tea, know you're not alone.
For those of you who have decided that the road you're on, regardless of elevation, is the high road? Rock on, my friends. There are so many of us here. And for what it's worth? I think we are classy as hell.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some roads to take.