Back from the fevered hinterlands
Hi again. I haven’t written here for a while, partly because for the last week I’ve been at the mercy of a surprisingly tenacious flu. Apart from that, however, I confess that I go through stretches when I don’t want to remember I’m divorced, let alone write about it. Especially during the holiday season, which is supposed to stand for everything that divorce isn’t. Instead, I sometimes like to let 2006-09 lapse into the mist of my dying mind and convince myself that I just happen to have these two great mini-roommates who kick my ass at Wii Dogfight and make forts from my sofa cushions.
Reader Kate’s comment, however, on Moxie’s post about how we divide and conquer the Holiday Season, brought up one of my biggest concerns about our co-parenting situation: the next significant other(s). It’s not that I don’t want Moxie to find someone who will put up with her give her the love she deserves. It’s just that even though our co-parenting thing might be going OK right now, it seems like a fragile ecosystem that could be overrun by anything—like, say, the introduction of another animal.
I guess I’m particularly skittish about this because of the trouble my parents have had with New Animals over the years. Some re-marriages have worked out just great, but others have been travesties. The worst example involves my Uncle Pete, who for decades was the brother my mom never had. Pete was married to my mom’s sister, who died ten years ago. After my aunt’s death, Pete was the last family my mom had, so their friendship was particularly important to her. They didn’t live near each other, but they spoke often—especially on my aunt’s birthday, when they’d call and regale each other with stories to keep her memory alive.
And then came Tina.
When Tina came into Pete’s life, we were happy for him. She seemed nice enough. But after they got married, she dug her talons in and flew him off to a cliffside aerie and decided their new life together was to be all about the two of them, at the expense of everyone else. She filters all conversations with him and doesn’t like it when anyone associated with his former wife calls—including his children. Even though my mom gets to talk with Pete every once in a while when Tina’s out of the house, he’s largely out of my mom’s life. And I can’t decide which is more disturbing: that Tina would demand this of him, or that Pete would acquiesce to it.
So much of co-parenting is coping with specifically delineated control over your kids. You have to build faith in the other co-parent and recognize that faith can’t exist without vulnerability. And thinking about a new person infiltrating the other household without your input and suddenly influencing your ex, your kids, and your life strikes me as more than just stretching your vulnerability to the max. That’s just an opportunity for straight-up vexation without representation.
Sometimes it works out just fine, and sometimes the Tinas of the world decide to take over your ecosystem and remodel it to suit themselves. We’ll see what happens.