I am blessed. Truly, I have the world’s best ex-husband. I’m not bragging, I’m just so grateful. But to be honest, I am a pretty kick-ass ex-wife.
It’s not always easy to spend non-court mediated time with your former spouse, but my ex & I do it willingly every week during what we call Family Dinner. When we separated, we wanted to assure our boys that although we were not a family living under one roof, that we are still a family.
As my kids spend 70% of their time with me, meal times are rushed, chaotic affairs filled with threats, bribes and the odd fist fight at the kitchen counter. Family Dinners are much more civilized affairs: I plan the menu – usually something special that I would not just make for myself, like tempura crusted ling cod, green peppercorn tenderloin or brine roasted chicken (ie. not Cheddar Bunnies or PB&J on the run) and we all sit at the dining room table – a space normally reserved for overdue library books, electronics and unpaid bills – and talk about the week & upcoming events. The boys help to set & clear the table and my ex & I chat about current affairs, mutual friends and other gossip without appearing overly familiar. It’s very polite & reserved conversation, punctuated by magic moments of shared exasperation or hilarity at the children’s behaviour. It’s nostalgic and sometimes melancholy, as we all miss when we did this regularly and daddy didn’t have to leave after story time.
Sometimes these dinners are strained and frustration is barely masked, but to the best of our abilities, we never let our children see these emotions. We smile sincerely and tease our boys while cajoling them to eat their fish. When you have children with someone, the love for those children is never in question; you will do whatever it takes to help them become successful, happy human beings. Breaking artisanal bread once a week is the least that we can do.