There are a few things that I have learned along the way though.
For starters, today is the kids' dad's birthday. Initially, you'd think that two divorced people would hate each other and not give a hoot about each others' birthdays. And you're probably right, but that's not the point. The point is to show your children how to treat someone they love.
So I got the kids some canvas, paint brushes and paint. And away they went.
As I was thinking about whether or not it's normal for exes to exchange birthday presents, I figured out that I'm not giving him anything, really. I'm showing the kids when someone you love has a birthday, you celebrate them by giving them a thoughtful gift.
There are a few other things I've learned in this past year. (I guess I should also add that just because I have learned all of these things, that does not automatically mean I have mastered actually doing them, but it's a start, right?)
1. Know your faults. Divorce (and relationships too) aren't a blame game. If blame is the game you are playing, you will always lose, even if initially, you felt like you won the argument. I've found that it's important to acknowledge when you are wrong or if you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. Just because you're divorced doesn't mean apologies still don't count for something.
2. Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill. Is whatever you are fighting over texts about really worth it? If it is, then by all means, fight for it. But if it's the difference between a couple hours with the kids, or one of you not going to some event, in the words of Elsa, LET IT GO. You'll feel much better in the long run.
3. Don't be unnecessarily mean. Yes, your ex makes your blood boil. Yes, your lip curls unintentionally when you see or hear about them and their new significant other, but who cares really? (Honestly, if you are female, if your ex is getting laid again, chances are he'll be nicer anyway). Here's my motto that I remind myself of as often as possible: The more time you spend being unhappy for others is less time you spend happy for yourself.
4. No trash talk. And yes, I know that's totally unrealistic. EVERY body trash talks and gossips. If you need to vent or want to share a story about someone that's funny, go ahead. Just do it with people you can trust not to repeat it. Because, let's face it, stories of your exes doing the walk of shame on a Sunday morning are just funny, I don't care who you are. But like I said, let's be classy. Share it with your BFF or your mom, both of whom will totally get a kick out of it, but you won't seem like a gossip hound spreading it all over town. (This may be one of the hardest rules to follow, I probably should have given up trash talk for Lent).
6. Don't ever be too embarrassed to try and be nice. I've reached out to certain people and was totally ignored, but I am still glad I did it. I can feel better about a situation if I know that at least I tried to reach out and be considerate or kind or appreciative. Never regret extending at thank you to someone.
And that's really all I know. Like I said, I wish I could master doing all of these things but I figure that at least knowing them is a good place to start.
Divorce sucks. Do I have days that I wished I still had a family unit? DUH. But if the clock could be turned back, we'd all be in trouble. So you just keep going forward. And the great thing about time going forward is that your mistakes will fade along with it. But in order for that to happen you also have to start doing BETTER in the future. So I'd rather work on that then to focus on the past.
And that's how I feel about that.