I received an email from my ex on Tuesday, saying he wanted to see the kids before they went out trick-or-treating. My philosophy is that he should be able to see the kids whenever he wants to see the kids, as long as it doesn’t impact something I have planned. Instead of saying no, (because Halloween has to be one of the most hectic days in the year for me, and how dare he wait until 9:30 the night before, etc.) I told him that if he wanted to, he could meet us in a small local town for dinner before we headed out.
Someone told me about this town a few days ago – that it’s a great place for the kids to go for trick-or-treating. They have a parade, and the residents are actively involved, with elaborate decorations and costumes. The homes are all close together and near the sidewalk, so the kids can hit lots of houses before they tire out from all the walking.
It also happens to be the town where my daughter attends high school.
Unbeknownst to me, my daughter had made arrangements with a couple of her friends to meet us at the restaurant, so we had the beginning of a small crowd (which I love – the more, the merrier). When we first walked in to the place, I immediately saw a new friend of mine and her entire family. She came up and gave me a big hug, making me feel so incredibly warm and welcome. I felt like I was a part of things for the very first time here in NJ.
Dinner was a stress-free experience. My ex and I had eye contact and did not melt. Little Joey was in seventh heaven to have his daddy next to him.
I invited him to stay and go out with us, and he did. We got the chance to catch up on some things regarding the children, and we even talked about some other general personal subjects.
I felt like we were team-parenting, and doing it well.
The smell of wood-burning fire was in the air, the night was crisp but comfortable and still, and the happy energy of that small town and my kids filled me up like chocolate never can.
In the end, as I watched him walking ahead with Joey, I was able to let myself feel the love for him that I’ve always had, as the man I chose to marry, and as the father of my terrific kids. But in the same moment, I was able to see clearly who he is, when he interrupted me mid-sentence to pick up a work call and said to the caller, “No, it’s okay… I can talk now,” while Joey tried to get his attention.
He is who he is. He is a very dedicated employee. No one can ever take that from him. And it is his choice to put his energy there; he was never going to have enough for both the job and me. I was always going to lose that battle, and I always will. And you know what? It’s okay.
And I don’t think I have to hate him for it, after all. I don’t have to live with it anymore. And when I say “it,” I’m referring to my pain as much as his behavior.
So, this Halloween of 2007 will go down in my memory as a very, very good night, and not at all scary.
Now… if I can just stay out of all this candy…