In an impressive (if I do say so myself) display of maturity, The Boy and his ex-wife, and myself and my ex-husband, decided the new partners need to meet the old partners. In the words of Andy Bernard in the US Office, “my ex is meeting my sex”.
But we knew it was the best decision for all because there are children involved. The Boy is actively helping to raise Miss Rose, and I am spending an increasing amount of time around Z, and therefore it had to happen.
None of us like the idea of someone being involved in our children’s lives that we don’t know and don’t trust, and if we are going to become one big, extended Patchwork Family then we are going to have to be around one another from time to time. If things are stressful and difficult then Miss Rose and Z would shoulder the blame for that, as if they weren’t around we wouldn’t need to be around our ex spouses at all. If things are relaxed and comfortable then Miss Rose and Z can live their lives with their assorted family members around them and feel happy.
All of us want happy children. All of us knew that to have happy children we’d have to meet, work out how to be around each other, and form some kind of working relationship. Sooner rather than later.
So the question of how to organise these hallowed events was raised.
My dear ex-husband (EH) took the lead in his case. Despite my threatening him with death and destruction (apparently unconvincingly) he invited The Boy to meet him for coffee on Saturday morning. Without me. Despite me giving The Boy firm instructions to tell him no and that we’d arrange a meeting I could attend, he agreed. I won’t lie, I was extremely anxious (this is a fairly normal state for me to be in though, let’s be honest. Still.. I think it was legitimate this time).
As they both left their coffee they both contacted me at the same time. The Boy’s text messages binged in as the EH phoned me, his opening line; “Well he’s a star isn’t he, I can see why you like him”. Huzzah! The Boy also acknowledged that the meeting was very successful, they had discussed the importance of family, the significance of step parents, and that they both wanted the best for both myself and Miss Rose. Bless their hearts. They’ve arranged to go out for beers. A true step towards man-bonding.
Thus it was my turn.
The Boy’s mother is a true head of the family, a maternal figure for all who embraces family and friends alike. A dinner was arranged in her home for the occasion, and promises of booze were made.
I won’t lie, I was terrified. The Boy and his mother reassured me, promised me it would be fine, and supplied the aforementioned booze for a touch of the dutch courage. Miss Rose and Z were, as always, adorable; squabbling over toys and doing cheers with the sippy cups as they watched Peppa Pig. It made appropriately pleasant distraction.
When the ex-wife arrived I was petrified but actually it was fine. She was nice, friendly and funny. She was kind to Miss Rose and chatted with everyone normally, even me. The Boy’s mother had provided a banquet of food which was both delicious and gave me something to do with my hands other than pick my finger nails and twiddle my hair, as I am prone to do when I’m particularly nervous.
Interestingly what was hardest about it wasn’t actually me being with the ex-wife at all, because she did nothing to make me feel uncomfortable or awkward, quite the opposite in fact. It was something I was unprepared for on an emotional level, even though intellectually I had expected it. The ex-wife and The Boy get on well and were married for a long time, they have inside jokes and a great deal of shared history. Whilst neither left me out, there was a great deal I was automatically excluded from by the simple fact I wasn’t in their marriage. It was odd. It made me feel peculiar. Not angry, not sad, not hurt, just peculiar. It was an odd sensation I can’t quite put my finger on.
What I can say for certain is I am extremely grateful it was done. I am relieved the Boy and the EH get on. I am certainly relieved that I and the ex-wife can be so “normal” around one another, and I am grateful that I like her. It will make our lives as adults easier, and it will most importantly ensure that Miss Rose and Z have happier lives.
If you’re in this situation I would highly advise following this approach. Get to know one another and try to accept one another on any level you can, because when children are involved in the lives of everyone it is they who will have the hardest time when anger or bitterness is the norm. It isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do, but it’s worth it. It’s definitely worth it.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!