The divorce decree – the coveted rules put in place of how to play the game for the remaining formative years of your children’s lives. It lists the rules and regulation of who gets the kids when and for how long, it directs when we can see our child and on what holidays, even when we are allowed to take vacations with them. Love them or hate them; they do bring some sense of order – and often times animosity to our already fragile and damaged relationships with our ex’s. What happens though, when the game comes out with a new edition? The current edition we are playing is COVID-19, maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s all the rage. This edition is riveting; and the card I recently drew while landing on the, ‘stay at home’ space was: All the things I thought I would never hear myself say to my ex during a pandemic.
Dealing With Your Ex During a Pandemic
Seriously, I never truly thought I would be saying things like: “for the safety and well-being of my Ex-husband…”, or “If you need anything, let me know I will drop it by so you don’t have to go out.”, “How are you feeling? How is your family doing?” The last 3 are those types of statements that we would ask a stranger or a friend, but not ever our Exes! More often than not, in casual conversation with another divorce` we discuss how oftentimes our Exes are more of our adversaries than our comrades. And if this is not you, then I applaud you. This article is not for the flawless achievers of divorce or the ones where BOTH people respect each other as individuals- we don’t all have that type of relationship, though I would like to believe most of us try.
These statements of compassion and dare I say caring can seem superficial and disingenuous. I assure you that these statements ARE genuine; and not for the benefit of my ex-husband, but for the benefit of my child- and yet sincere just the same. These past weeks since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold in my state, I have found myself being more flexible than ever with the ‘rules’ of the parenting plan game and these offerings of kindness. In these past weeks I have also been under a lot of scrutiny and judgment because of it.
My Children’s Happiness
Could this be the beginning of self-discovery, of self-growth? Perhaps, but more so it is that I am honoring the fact that my child needs both of his parents alive and healthy. With the immense stress, panic and pressure we are all under; I have found that letting go of the structure of the parenting plan and focusing on what brings the most comfort to my child actually creates less stress for him. It also decreases my own personal stress and allows me to schedule the, “me-time” I need. This me time consists of focusing on my coaching business, my own education and schooling, and recharging my immune system by decreasing stress with rest and exercise.
I have (in this new edition of the game) drawn the additional complication ‘card’ of working on the front lines while having an Ex-husband with a compromised immune system. Plot twist! I am taking every precaution to keep the father of my son safe and like I said, this is creating a lot of judgement toward me. The truth is that it is no one’s business but mine. This does not mean I am in love with my Ex- it simply means I am honoring the fact that my child’s needs both of his parents- regardless of my feeling about my Ex-husband. My Ex-husband is an important part of my child’s life. To this end I may have to go without being physically close to my child if exposed and symptomatic because I am a Nurse. This idea does not thrill me, but it may be what is necessary AND my reality very soon: to leave him with his dad while I take care of others; or yet still my worst fear exposing them both. I know my Ex well, and I know that I will not get any post-apocalyptic extra visit tokens when this is all over, but again it is about my child and his needs.
How did I come to these uncomfortable decisions? I asked myself what I value most in this situation, and the answer was my son’s happiness, health, and my sanity. Was I living in alignment if I would rather consume my energy arguing with my ex and creating stress? Or would I rather use my energy toward my own happiness and my son’s welfare? Seems like a no brainer, but letting go is so hard to do, especially when it is wrapped up in years of resentment and seemingly unfair situations. All of that is ego and a sense of righteousness that is necessary to lay down to respond rather than react. In situations like these, it helps to realize there is a lot we do not have control over, but if we focus on what we DO have control over and live in the moment- we can make better decisions that align with our well- being. When we do this, we are responding to our situations from a place of power.
Eventually and slowly we will return back to the normal parenting plan to achieve a sense of ‘normalcy’- which is also good for my child; and in this I remember that flexibility is a lesson that is learned by example. Every opportunity presents a lesson and sometime those lessons are uncomfortable. The goal is not to love the lesson, but to learn from it so that we can grow and be the best versions of ourselves that we can be- on any given day.
What are you doing? How are you handling and navigating your parenting plans through this pandemic? I truly never thought I would see this day come over 6 years ago after the gavel dropped on my marriage. But here I am, giving compassion and empathy to my past and cultivating a future precedent, one that shows my child what a divorce could be-should he ever find himself in this circumstance. After all, if I couldn’t model what a good marriage should be, shouldn’t I model what a good divorce should be?
This article originally appeared in www.4spiritedhealth.com
Robin Zenczak is a divorced mom for 7 years. She runs a support group for women going through all stages
of divorce. She is a Nurse, Yoga instructor and Transformational Life Coach. She specializes in helping
people live a life that they are truly aligned with; assisting individuals to move gracefully through major
life transitions; such as divorce. www.4spiritedhealth.com