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November 25, 2010

This is the second Thanksgiving in a row I haven’t been with my children.

Figuring out how to deal with holidays is one of the most difficult decisions for a lot of divorcing couples, I hear. It wasn’t for LOD and me. The conversation went like this:

Our Awesome Mediator: “Now we have to talk about making a holiday schedule. This can be really difficult, so let’s try to stay open as we work through it.”

LOD: “Do you just want to just keep the alternating schedule we’ve been doing since R was born?”

Me: “Yeah. Ink it.”

OAM: “Wow. OK, then. Let’s move on to life insurance…”

Of course that was a lot easier because we’d been alternating Thanksgiving and Christmas between our two families for years. If we’d had to come up with a structure from scratch it would have been much more difficult and emotional.

But the switching has worked really well. Until this year, when the vile intersection of school schedules and airline fare gouging made it impossible for me to take the kids to my family for Thanksgiving. I was really upset that my kids weren’t going to see their grandparents and aunt and uncle until next summer, or my grandmother (who has Alzheimer’s).

And then LOD volunteered to switch.

He’s got them today, and I get to take them to my parents’ (driving when they have time off school) for Christmas for the second year in a row.

I am extremely grateful for his generosity in doing this for me. He absolutely didn’t have to. We both signed that agreement.

But he did.

So today I will take the subway to my friends’ apartment in Brooklyn (I’m bringing the pies) and drink and laugh and be happy, and my children will be with their family that isn’t my family. And then at Christmas my children will be with my family after a long car trip across my archnemesis (I-80 in Pennsylvania) while LOD is with his family.

For those of you in the thick of it, I wish for you a) peace when your children are with their other parent, especially on a holiday, and b) that the divorce allows both of you to be more generous with each other apart than you could be together.

Happy Thanksgiving.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. greyfavorite permalink
    November 25, 2010 6:35 pm

    Lovely. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Shelly permalink
    November 25, 2010 7:38 pm

    Good deal – glad it worked out for you. I was child of divorced parents and it frequently was not easy. It sounds like you try to put yourself aside on their behalf. Bravo!

  3. AmyinTexas permalink
    November 26, 2010 1:15 am

    We had a similar experience when deciding Christmas… the mediator started saying, “Okay, standard custody orders call for switching every year…” when we looked at each other and said, “Why not keep it as it is?” We always celebrated Christmas Eve with his parents and Christmas Day with mine. So, we keep it that way. The kids spend Christmas Eve with dad… and I go pick them up around 10pm, and bring them home so they can wake up with me on Christmas morning. Honestly, it might have been the easiest decision when talking about custody.

  4. November 26, 2010 7:55 pm

    This is the first holiday I’ve ever spent apart from my kids since my oldest was born 17 years ago. I’m at my parents’ place, they’ve been great, but this SUUUUUUUUCKS.

  5. November 27, 2010 7:41 pm

    Well, my ex never discussed it. He just up and took off for our hometown for a week to be with his new girlfriend. Never even calling them on Thanksgiving. We had a good one though. I’m envious of those women who have cooperative men who WANT to spend time with their kids.

  6. I'm next permalink
    November 29, 2010 2:35 pm

    I’m about a week away from our final hearing and about 4 weeks away from moving out, so we had Thanksgiving together because we’re still in the same house, so really what else are we going to do? It wasn’t as dramatic or awkward as I thought it might be, even with Grandpa coming over.

    My 7 year old daughter has known about the news for about a month now, so I think it was good for her to see us all together, knowing that I’m moving out soon. I think overall having a lot of time to talk about what’s happening has been good for her. And she was just fine with me going out on Black Friday to buy a new television for the new house.

    Based upon this year, I would not rule out next year doing Thanksgiving together. But the reality of the new year hasn’t set in yet, so I may feel quite different with 10 months of co-parenting under my belt.

    That said I think Christmas will way more awkward and need more structure, but it won’t kill me to buy a nice pair of warm fuzzy socks for my soon to be former wife, who for as long as I’ve known her has had cold toes.

  7. November 29, 2010 6:50 pm

    I’ve been hoping you’d write about this. Cheers to you both for being so mature and civilized with each other in order to put the children first, especially regarding holidays. This is exactly what my ex and I agreed (if only verbally) we would always do. Even after I remarried, my ex would come to our house first thing Christmas morning so that our daughter (only child) would get to spend Christmas morning with both her parents. We would all lounge around, having coffee and breakfast together before he would take her over to his family’s house (his parents live in town, mine don’t.) It has worked out beautifully and I’ve been so proud of the way we’ve handled it.

    And then (dun dun DUN) he started dating a woman who doesn’t think our situation is “normal” or “healthy”. Huh?? My husband and I have, on several ocassions, invited her for birthday parties etc. in order to welcome her and make her feel comfortable with us. Not only will she not come, she won’t “allow” my daughter’s father to come either. Yes, he needs to grow some gonads. But I guess now it’s time to create a holiday plan and put it in writing. Sigh.

    I hope the two of you can continue to treat eachother with kindness and put the children first, even when you do start dating. And if your new partner can’t get on board with it, then he/she isn’t the right person for you.

  8. December 1, 2010 12:44 am

    I was so moved by this post, and I think your blog is just extraordinary. I say this as a married woman, and as an interpreter who frequently interprets for the parties and mediators during the mediation sessions you mentioned. The vitriol often leaves me feeling beaten and sad, and I’m not even a party in the case.

    Your children are lucky to have both of you as parents. I look forward to reading more.

  9. December 7, 2010 6:59 am

    This isn’t a comment on this post in particular but more on the whole blog which I found via irretrievably broken. I wish this had existed back when I separated from my husband in 1994. We started out working fairly well together but it quickly fell appart. We never even attempted the kind of co-parenting commitment that I read about in your blog and in the comments. Would we have managed if we had tried? Probably not. However I feel bad that I never tried.

    When we split up the agreement was that the 4 children, aged 3, 5, 7 and 8 live with me and visit their father every second weekend (friday night to monday night). Also he had the option of having one or another of them for some “alone time with Dad” one afternoon a week, and he usually picked up the girls in Kindergarden and brought them home. At the time I was against sharing custody 50/50 as I had been a stay-at-home mom (with no college education), and so had had most of the daily care of the children already.
    I wonder now, whether a 50/50 arrangement would have been worth a try?
    In any case, after 2 months my ex got involved with a woman who had 5 kids of her own, and moved out of town to live with her 3 months later. From that time on, at his initiative, the childrens visits became more and more seldom. He never bothered to involve himself in their school, their extra-curricular activities etc. In the mean time I went to college, studied nursing and started working 3/4 time, while more or less single handedly raising 4 kids. It was in part a nightmare, especially the teen years. However somehow or other they are now all well adjusted young adults. So I can’t have messed up too badly.
    What I’m trying to say is, I wish I had had the ispiration of your blogg back then.

  10. Mitch permalink
    December 19, 2010 12:03 pm

    I am not divorced and have a completely different take on this subject. I am with my son all the time and am thrilled that I get to be his after school activity. However, his hard working other dad is not around a lot and I have recently made the decision to spend the holidays apart from both of them. I used the excuse of my dad being ill this year to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and my folks. Quiet and at a restaurant. Call me Mr. Bah Humbug, but I think holidays are for kids. Also, having married into a big Italian family, we meet for large Sunday dinners 3 times a month. How different is a day with a turkey as the centerpiece?
    So here’s the bad news for them – I had such a good time on a break from them (mostly happy to be on a break from my hubby), I am leaving in the middle of Xmas Eve. It is not my religion, I don’t need to watch 50 people gorge themselves after I worked for 3 years to take off over 40 pounds, and I am not interested in seeing the same cousins get drunk again. Yes, I am a big inventory taker!
    I do a lot of cleaning around the house when I am alone. I catch up on my blog, my paperwork, when I am alone. And I get to relax for a few minutes. This has been a great busy year for me, I need time to catch up. Maybe because I make the choice, rather than have it made for me, I feel different. All I know is I am getting quite used to being married with a child and having 1 weekend a month to myself (in the summer that is more like every weekend alone!).
    Thanks guys!


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