On April 26th, 2016 I got divorced. My now ex-husband and I walked into the court house in New Haven together and ended what was almost ten years of marriage and seventeen years of being together. We did so without any lawyers, and with the focus always being on our daughter. When it was over we walked back to our cars together and hugged. It felt completely normal.
And the reality was, it was completely normal for us. We have known each other for almost half of our life. We have gone through immense emotions together. Divorce being one of them. We were likely going to talk to each other the very next day. We were probably going to have dinner together, with our daughter, later that week. That was the plan, anyway. The plan was to keep our daughter’s wellbeing at the forefront at all times. The plan was to still celebrate birthdays together and make it a point to have a meal together once a week. The plan was to stay a family for our little girl. No matter how hard it was.
And as so many of you know, things never, ever go as planned. Our custody schedule needed adjustments every month. Our commitment to have dinner together once a week quickly got lost in the day to day shuffle. Weeks would go by without any plans for the three of us to be together. Celebrating her fifth birthday was a complete disaster. And it tore me up inside. I believed wholeheartedly that sticking to a plan, an outline of what I believed our daughter’s life needed to look like was the right thing to do.
I was wrong. We did not stick to a plan. We did not always follow through with what we agreed to. Sometimes my daughter was with me on “Daddy days.” Sometimes I would call my ex-husband in tears on days when I needed to work and my daughter had a delayed opening or school was cancelled. Sometimes our little girl would be sick and want to be with her mom or missed her dad terribly and we had to be flexible with our plan, with our schedule. And what we ended up with was so much more than what we could have imagined.
Our daughter is growing up with two parents who are grateful for each other, who make the adjustments as they come to ensure her life is as carefree and happy as possible. She still sees her father helping her mother when she can’t get their Christmas tree out of their condo by herself. She sees her mother get excited to do present shopping with her for her father’s birthday. She knows that her mom is currently feeding the cats at her dad’s house while they are on vacation. Her dad drops off soup to her when she’s sick at her mom’s house. Her mom brings brownie mix to them when they want to bake and are out of batter. Sometimes her father will text me and tell me they are heading out to get frozen yogurt and have me surprise her by joining them. We have done movies together, countless dinners out, celebrated each other’s birthdays with her, and even met up to shop together. Our daughter is growing up in an environment where two people could not make it work as a couple, but who are doing their very best to make it work as a family.
Fast forward one year to April 26th, 2017-a year full of tears, laughter, pain, joy, and growth. We spent the anniversary of our divorce on a Disney cruise together with our five year old daughter, celebrating life and family the best way we learned how. I am so proud of the way we have been able to keep our family intact. I am so appreciative of the man I chose to marry, and then divorce, all of those years ago. And, most of all, I am so grateful for the plan we never stuck to.