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Single Mom Dilemma: letting your kids go with the Ex

Letting go - Disney style
Letting go - Disney style

If you became a single mom as a result of divorce, and your ex-husband is still part of the program when it comes to your kids, you will inevitably have to endure the day when your children are with him instead of you on a major holiday. Whether it is Christmas, Easter, or the Fourth of July, there will come a time when it hits you: My kids are with my ex and I am missing this holiday in their lives and losing precious time that we will never get back.

How do you handle the cacophony of emotions that comes with this revelation and still maintain your dignity?

Even worse than this scenario – one day there may be a new significant other in your ex’s life. And then you will have to face the reality of your children spending that important never-get-it-back holiday with their dad and his girlfriend. It all boils down to the rather unsettling realization that some other woman is there with your kids, and you, The Mother, are not.

I can think of two ways to handle this:

  • Option 1. Call up your ex and scream at him, telling him how inconsiderate he is, and doesn’t he even care that you are home alone cleaning the house while he is out riding roller coasters and going to the circus and eating in nice restaurants on his vacation with the kids? Doesn’t he care that you gave birth to these children and don’t you at least deserve to be with them on all major holidays? Shouldn’t he be the one at home scrubbing toilets, wallowing in misery, thinking about how he should have treated you better (like he treats his current girlfriend) and maybe you wouldn’t be in this predicament?
  • Option 2, and perhaps a more EFFECTIVE way to handle the situation, because frankly, Option 1 warrants MAJOR therapy on your end – no offense – because obviously, you are still very bitter that he cheated on you and instead of a life of torment, anguish and regret, he just moved on with his life and left you alone on Arbor Day.

    Option 2 is a bit more of a refined approach to the dilemma of your ex and his woman spending the holidays with your kids. As the ridiculously popular with eight-year-old girls, never-stop-singing-all-the-songs-from-it movie, Frozen, advises, “Let it go.” Yup. Option 2 is that simple. LET. IT. GO.

Consider these possible scenarios:

  • If your kids are safe, your ex is an acceptable (or possibly, great – even though he lets them eat chocolate cake before bed and forgets to make them brush their teeth) dad who relishes time spent with his children because you have primary custody and he only gets to see them every other weekend and major holidays or school vacations…LET IT GO.
  • If your ex’s girlfriend is a kindhearted woman, who perhaps has children herself and totally understands what it means to miss her kids when they are off with their dad and his tart-of-the-month…LET IT GO.
  • If your kids are with a loving family, having an experience that perhaps you can’t give them (e.g., you don’t own a jet ski but the rich grandparents have three; you don’t have a vacation home in Destin, but the aunt and uncle do, complete with in-ground pool; the girlfriend’s neighbors own horses and your kids are learning to ride for free)…LET IT GO.

Ultimately, as a parent, whether you are divorced, single, married – whatever the case may be – it’s about the kids. If you can always remind yourself that your children’s happiness is of utmost importance and if you keep them from experiencing happiness with ex-husbands and ex-family members and new girlfriends or even tarts-of-the-month, then you are preventing them from experiencing life with anyone but yourself. Is that fair? Don’t you want your kids to grow up with an appreciation and/or tolerance for others? Of course you do. That’s why you’re such a great Mom.

Now, put down the vacuum, call up your friends, and make plans for having fun on whatever holiday it is that you are sans kids. You’ll be a better mother as a result of the time you spend with yourself – without worrying about entertaining the kids when they are out of school for more than two consecutive days and start complaining that they are bored and why can’t we ever do something fun?

And most importantly, remember this: Your kids are coming back to you. You’ll have plenty of time to break them of the bad habits they learned with their dad and crazy Uncle Fred who let them watch PG-13 movies and they aren’t even 10 yet. I know it’s tempting…take a deep breath. Option 2.

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