For the past three years or so that I have been writing this blog I've talked a lot about my journey of post coupledom, and how my ex husband and I have worked so hard to continue to co-parent effectively and maintain a good level of friendship (which, it turns out, is fairly uncommon in marriage breakups).
It's been incredibly successful, even though occasionally some lines get blurred (I have been known to call on him to mend stuff, and he gets me to help out with his business from time to time). The downside - if there is one to such a well managed separation - is that one of our children still harbours a belief that eventually Dad is going to come back (he won't be). And both children consider him part of our immediate family (he is to them of course).
And so Christmas. He had a ham that needed cooking and I am the one with the big oven, so I spent a few hours in front of a hot stove. The kids have bikes that need fixing and he has the right tools for the job. Tonight I wanted to take the 10 year old to midnight mass and so he came and babysat the sleeping one. All very easy, and civilised. But there was for me a small feeling of disconnect knowing that my SO was in another town, with HIS family, whilst I was here with mine, both present and past.
Tomorrow the children's father will come for breakfast as has become our tradition, and my SO will come and join us for dinner. Over the next 48 hours or so we will, separately or together, have spent time with exes, step parents, our kids, someone Else's, the whole nine yards of the modern family.
It's a far cry from the way things were when I was young - when people ''took sides'' and separated couples barely exchanged words let alone had a conversation or shared a meal! Yes I know there are still many who suffer thought painful divorces and never become friendly, or friends, with their ex - but I think this is probably the exception these days rather than the rule and thank goodness for that.
The challenge is respecting the space and values of everyone involved, ensuring all feel important and special, but also not forsaking one person for another.