It’s a Jolly Holiday with Your Ex
If you’re lucky, life with your ex is a merry-go-round of dancing cartoon penguins and boater hats. If you don’t happen to live in a Mary Poppins chalk drawing, however, read on.
Shared placement of your children isn’t ever easy. But when it comes to shared placement during the holidays, life can be even more challenging. Hopefully, you hashed out everything in your Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) but as you’ll soon discover (if you haven’t already), things change and MSAs get challenged. Here are some tips and strategies that worked for me when it came to dealing with–ironically enough–one of the least scary of the shared holidays: Halloween.
Pick your battles
Luckily for me, Halloween has never been that big of a deal. In fact, it’s always rather depressed me. For my ex, however, walking around and socializing with the neighborhood sparks joy. Great! Smooth sailing! But not quite: the first Halloween we had as ex and ex was a special one. My son was going trick-or-treating for the first time and this was a milestone dammit. The little guy was almost two and a half. He had a solid conception of candy, costumes, and the wonder of Halloween. I was in full overcompensating mom mode and needed a win. The thought of my ex parading around my little treat without me burned me up inside.
Even though I didn’t want my ex anywhere near us, I sucked it up. We compromised. I got the houses in our immediate vicinity. My ex took over once we were a few blocks out. It worked out about as well as it could. Baby’s first trick-or-treating was a success!
Make your mark
If you’re actually into Halloween or if you’re torn up about not being there with your kids, be there in spirit (pun intended). Create the best Halloween costume, insist on photos at your house beforehand, whatever it takes to make them–and you if you’re that into it–feel like you’re involved.
Look on the bright side
Not having to schlep around the neighborhood is one of the many blessings that come from having shared placement during the holidays. And if you don’t have a trick-or-treater, there’s nothing morally wrong with turning the lights off in your house and heading to the movies.
Remember there’s plenty for everyone
If your ex gets trick-or-treating, you take the local truck-or-treat, harvest festival, haunted hayride, church ghoul-fest, YMCA spook time, or the middle school’s fright night. Or go to the next town over where trick-or-treating is always on the Saturday before. Luckily when it comes to shared placement of kids on holidays, Halloween is an easy one.
Do a hex
Look, we don’t endorse invoking the dark arts, but we don’t know your life. You do you.
Think long term
Okay, so I didn’t compromise on my ex’s involvement Baby’s First Halloween because I’m a good and benevolent person (though, I would like to say, I AM). I was thinking of the long game. For me and my ex, anyway, perceived goodwill–real or contrived–goes a long way. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Christmas is right around the corner. Giving an inch now can help you take a mile (just kidding, you’re never getting a mile; let’s be optimistic and call it two inches) later when it might count more to you.
And finally . . . roll with it
There’s that old unspoken rule here in our puritan society that says as soon as you become a parent (especially a mom) you’re supposed to become a selfless angel of kindness and self-sacrifice. That’s stupid. You were a person before you had kids and you’re still a person after. You deserve to be happy and enjoy the rights everyone else does. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t do what you can to make things easier for your kids. Have your non-negotiables and make sure you’re getting what you need, but don’t forget that line from Great Expectations: Life is made of ever so many partings welded together. You and your children are experiencing some pretty significant partings. Holding on too tight will only make things harder. Mourn the loss of the way things were, eat 10 fun size 3 Musketeers bars, take a deep breath, and set your sights on the better things that are coming.