Right now my ex-husband is in Austria, ski-ing with his friends. His Facebook has photos from the airport, him on a snowy hillside with his arms round a beautiful young girl, and references to how much fun he is having.
It’s almost a year to the day that he walked out of our home, leaving me and our baby daughter behind, and ignoring all attempts to contact him for nearly two months. He disappeared. He informed me of his intention to leave us via a Facebook message… after kissing me goodbye in the morning and promising to let me know if he has thoughts on what we should have for dinner.
He does not pay maintenance for Miss Rose, doesn’t provide any childcare, and visits rarely. He spends most of his time with his friends (much as when we were still married) and asking people to come for coffees at Costa.
By all accounts, and according to pretty much everyone (including my divorce lawyer) I have every right to be… for want of a better word… a bitch to him. But I’m not. We get on fine.
I’m nice to my ex-husband because he will always be in my life. We are connected. We have biology in common in the form of an innocent little girl who never asked to be born, never asked me to marry her father, never asked him to leave. A little girl who didn’t choose her parents, didn’t choose to be raised by a single mum, and didn’t ask for a life of conflict. A little girl who, quite frankly, deserves better.
Miss Rose adores her father. When he’s here she’s absolutelsy thrilled and loves to play with him, show him her toys, and climb on him. She gives him kisses and cuddles. It used to stress her out and after his visits she would have violent outbursts, tantrums and screaming fits, raging at me and begging for him to come back. Now she just waves goodbye and gets on with what she was doing. His presence pleases her, his absence is irrelevent.
Whether he chooses to step away from her life gradually or to increase his involvement is up to him. I won’t force his hand either way. If he’s involved with her I want it to be because he wants to be and because he values her, if I try and force it she will be the one who ends up suffering. If he steps away I want it to be because he wants to stop bothering, if I try and force him out Miss Rose will resent me.
I am planning to build Miss Rose a new family, a new life. I would like to make her a sibling and The Boy is making an incredible father figure whom she hero worships. If over time she and her biological father do grow apart then, in honesty, it would probably make my life easier. However, it is not my place to choose that for her. Just because I feel irritated by his lack of involvement in her life, and his lack of financial support for her, it does not mean I will cut him from her life.
If I am not going to cut him from her life then I am going to have him in my life as well. If I am going to have him in my life as well I am going to be nice to him. If I am not nice to him we will argue, we will fight. If we fight Miss Rose will be around anger and cruel words, an atmosphere of tension and unhappiness. If Miss Rose is around that, she will blame herself for the two people she loves most, her parents, being unhappy. Miss Rose is not to blame for our situation and if she tries to shoulder that burden it will break my heart.
So, for these reasons, I am nice to him. I smile when he tells me he’s off to Austria, I laugh when he jokes about how much money he spends in Costa, and I greet him with a hug and a warm smile. I put my feelings aside and enjoy his company, chat to him, laugh with him, and offer him kindness. The pay off is Miss Rose. She is raised in a relaxed, happy world with relaxed, happy parents. She has family and friends around her, and her father is not a negative force in her world.
I will always be nice to my ex-husband. Sometimes it’ll be harder than other times, and when I’m surrounded by people telling me to give him hell it’s difficult to argue with the logic, but I will ALWAYS be nice to my ex-husband. Even if it’s through gritted teeth.