The New Normal

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

For those who missed it, here is the column that ran in the GT on Saturday 26th January.

Apparently my ex husband and I are a unique breed of people. We are constantly being told by people young and old how amazing we are when it comes to how we raise our children.

I however find it sad that we are unique and amazing, I wish whole heartedly that we were normal and not viewed as another species.

The thing is when our marriage broke down to the point of no return there was an enormous amount of hurt, sadness, anger, guilt and blame and it was really, really hard for the first 2 years feeling our way through. We all had to adjust to how this new life was going to play out and how we would make it work.

There were times when I thought maybe it was just all going to be too hard to play this very grown up game for the sake of the children.

We did fall in love and marry each other and vowed to live till death did us part which is why we also chose to bring our 3 beautiful children into the world. I believe I speak for us both when I say that the best thing we ever did was have our babies and the only way they would be present in my life is because of their father. No matter how hard it was for us to make US work we both refuse to let that be the cross our children have to bear.

Yes we sit down with our diaries and work out our weekends but it is very elastic. If something comes up with work, family or friends we rejig and swap a night here for one there. Whatever works. It would best be described as co parenting. We attend everything that is important to the kids as a team whenever possible and we stand and sit together. Why should my child have to look up and find parents in two separate locations when they have done something they are proud of and/or want us to see? We try and spend birthdays and other significant holidays and milestones as a family. We have also tried to spend about 3 days away as a family each year which is about our limit. We have however decided to take a family holiday to Disneyland this year for 2 weeks as neither one of us want to miss sharing that experience with the kids.

We consider ourselves normal and most importantly our children see their family as normal. Sadly my parents divorced when I was 15 and life was tough so I make sure that my kids will never feel that way.

They normally see their Dad at least every 2nd day and speak every day on the phone. We text photos to each other of anything fun or important that we may be missing out on.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 50% of all marriage breakups include children under 18 and 25% of those children see the parent they don't live with less than once a year or never. That is so terribly sad, kids need both parents unless of course they would be in harms way. I would never advocate children being forced into a dangerous situation.

I know a lot of people who have seemingly normal ex partners, their marriages dissolved for the normal list of reasons but they cant stand each other and don't seem to want to make it work. I really don't get it. “ you lose 1 hour next weekend because you were an hour late today”, “ No, Tommy can’t visit your sick mother this Saturday as it is not your weekend” etc  These things make me terribly sad.

We have most certainly had to learn to get where we are now and it took time and patience but it is so worth it. It also makes it easier on our friends and extended family as we can both be invited somewhere together without making others feel uncomfortable which basically means life remains very normal for the kids.

I truly hope that in the future we will still be able to sit together as the Mother and Father of the Bride or Groom at all three of our children’s weddings. If we have new partners I hope they will be sitting there also adding to the richness and diversity of all our lives.

Yes we are doing it for the children but it most certainly benefits us also to let go of what happened and start a fresh new chapter.

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