I remember when I was newly divorced and life as I knew it was over in many ways. Among them, the man who had been by my side through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, was now only making appearances opposite my lawyer and me in a courtroom. We didn't speak to each other much, and we were both harboring resentments. I was also struggling with acceptance. While I knew I didn't want to be married to him anymore, I sure as hell did not want a broken family. I didn't want to be without my kids half the time, and I didn't want to be a single mom the other half, either. The financial constraints of somehow making one salary enough for a family of four plagued me during most of my waking hours. I was scared and not OK with this arrangement. I felt lost. As soon as the papers were filed, I was without the husband I vowed to be with, until death do us part.
My ex-husband and I now text each other every day. Some days, we text a lot. Texting has become a staple of our postdivorce relationship.
Fast forward seven years. Seven years of rediscovering, adjusting, accepting, and healing. Seven years of creating a new life for this so-called broken family. In those seven short years, we've managed to create a new family — one that has two homes but isn't broken at all. We've put ourselves back together in a way that works for us. The best part is that the resentments and the hurt are gone. We've come to accept and even embrace our new arrangement. And the best part? The kids get to see their parents communicating in a healthy way, rather than incessantly fighting. And texting has helped to make that possible. My ex-husband and I now text each other every day. Some days, we text a lot. Texting has become a staple of our postdivorce relationship. It encourages inclusion but discourages arguments. It works for us, and I'm so grateful for that.
My three kids just spent two weeks in Cape Cod with their dad, which is a long time for me to go without them. As the days passed, my heart and soul longed to hug and kiss and laugh with them. I missed them terribly. But you know what helped? My ex-husband texted me every day. Thanks to those texts from my ex, I knew that they went to see a magician and that my son was chosen to be a volunteer for the lie detector test, which revealed that at 8 years old, he has a girlfriend! I received phone calls from my ex, during which he put the kids on speakerphone so they could all tell me about the highlights of their day. By the end of their vacation, I had received enough pictures to make a Cape Cod memory book, and it all helped me to feel a little closer to them during this longer-than-normal separation.
Far from being broken, our family is quite whole, and texts with my ex have played a significant part in our healing. The kids know their dad and I communicate regularly and that we're united in a very divorced kind of way. People often compliment my ex and me for getting along as well as we do. I always thank them for noticing, but I also smile inside knowing it hasn't been an easy journey getting here. In the early days, when court dates, lawyers, and affidavits were at the center of my relationship with my ex, communication was tough. We would text only when absolutely necessary. There were times when I wanted to block him completely. But somewhere along the line, we found acceptance.
I'm confident my ex and I will continue to text every day and that they'll always be about the kids: their schedules, their needs, or a funny story that only a parent could truly appreciate. When we need help with carpooling or schedule changes, we know we can rely on each other with a quick text: "Hey, can you pick up Molly from her practice at 3:30 so I can take Emmet to his lessons?" "Sure." We help each other out. Rather than splitting things up with "my nights" and "your nights," we're both parents every night.
I would have missed out on so many things if my ex and I were not on texting terms. I wouldn't have known that my daughter has a collection of sea glass or that my son found out the tooth fairy wasn't real. I wouldn't have seen the ear-to-ear smiles on the kids' faces when they went to their first Red Sox game, and I wouldn't have seen the video of that hockey goal I missed when I had to work on a Saturday. Today, I'm grateful for the gift of time. I'm grateful that we've been able to heal and that I embrace our new normal. And I'm so grateful for every text I receive from my ex.