All in Divorce

When I divorced Dick, 17 years ago this month, I shared my plans to give my wedding ring to our daughter Elle when she turned 18.  Dick responded in a sarcastic, bitter, angry tone "Sounds like a great idea!  Elle here's a symbol of your parents FAILED marriage!!" I responded "No, here's a symbol that your Dad and I loved each other once!" 

Dick and I never discussed the ring again. Many years ago I shared with Elle my intentions to give her the ring. I don't remember the exact conversation other than we both knew that the ring belonged to her and that Grandma(my Mom) was keeping it in a safe until she turned 18.

I have to admit, there have been a number of times over the years I secretly wished for the day one of my kids would turn 18. With my three youngest, it had nothing to do with them, rather the Ex. Specifically haggling with the ex over the "proposed" holiday schedule. One year Dick/Malus got miffed that I dare email a schedule over without "proposed" in the title.

Most of the years we have shared 50/50 custody with our respective Exes.  Agreeing on what was a fair 50% time split was a moving target year after year. By the time the actual Holiday rolled around, it felt like we had negotiated peace in the Middle East. Instead of wanting celebrate, I usually felt like going to bed for a few days due to mental exhaustion.

This year we've added a new twist - Jax turned 18 in July.  No longer a valid divorce decree awarding joint custody to his Mom and Dad. No more detailed spread sheets about what days he will spend at Mom's house and Dad's house.  In my opinion, that was a huge motivating factor in Jax going out of state for College - he could sleep every night in the same bed, his clothes all in one place - just one home base.

Today Jax is coming home for Thanksgiving! This isn't Mom or Dad's Thanksgiving - it's HIS THANKSGIVING!  But what home will he come home too?

Last night I came across a People article on the wedding of Eva Amurri daughter of Susan Sarandon and Franco Amurri.  The picture was of Eva's Ex Step Father Tim Robbins and Mother Susan Sarandon walking her down the aisle.  The article acknowledged that her Father was present at the ceremony, but her Mother and Step Father were the hosts of the wedding event.  As you may know, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon split up three years ago after spending twenty two years together.

Eva Amurri with Step Dad and Mom.What struck me about the whole scenario was the happiness on Eva's face as she walked with her arms intertwined with Tim and Susan down the aisle.  Although her "parents" had parted ways, Eva acknowledged how important her Step Father was in her life by his intimate involvement in the ceremony and celebration.

When my divorce from Dick was final - it was relief.  Relief that I didn't have see and talk to him everyday.  When he was being unreasonable I could just hang up the phone.  The flip side of the decision was that I would only see my daughter half the time, split every Holiday, special occasion............. Instead of having eighteen years with my child the hard core reality was it would be more like nine.  It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do - with time it became my normal and Elle's normal.

Elle's view from the beach houseSince Elle left Dick's house two and half years ago, we have been together most days.  It's different from when she was a toddler - she's a teenager - been through HELL and back - dealing with a ton of emotions - but she's been under my roof. I've been lucky to be there to hold her - love her - seven days in a row - week after week. 



My daughter Elle is now a Senior in High School - busy filling out College applications - dreaming about the next phase of her life. Last week Elle's high school emailed a picture of Elle in her graduation gown. Turns out the school emailed the picture to my Ex - Elle's Father. It prompted Dick to leave me a very long winded message.  In a nutshell he said;  

  • "WE did a good job of raising her - even though he hasn't seen her or talked for over two years
  • He believes that Elle hasn't been involved in his life for two years because of what went on between Elle and Malus.  Elle just used him as a gateway to get out of his home -  that's ok though that's what he's there for

Last week I went on a road trip with on one of my Hubby's ex wives. Yes, you heard me right a road trip with Greta - Ex Wife #2.

You're probably thinking the same thing my friends did when I shared my upcoming plans - O - M - G! What are you thinking? 

Um - it isn't a girls getaway - rather a trip designed to squeeze every last second in with Jax before we drop him off at College.  OHHH - that should be interesting! 

It was always a given that both Greta and I were going on this trip! 

Raylan and I have been a parental team when it comes to raising our blended family - physically, emotionally and financially for the past twelve years. Even now with Jax entering College our partnership continues.  Raylan and I are working together to provide financial support for Jax's education, as well as, support him emotionally through all the changes coming his way and is willing to share. Hopefully a lot! Probably wishful thinking on our part!

On the other side of the coin is Greta - his mother. She's never missed a big moment in Jax's life. This moment was no exception. Sal's participation in the road trip was never discussed as a possibility. Greta was the parent who handled the majority of parenting of Jax in her home. 


"We're ready to apply Elle's hardware," something I had never imagined hearing about one of my children. The words from the surgical intern calling from the Elle's surgery with an update.  

Elle's hardwareSo far everything had gone according to plan - no complications.  A relief for any parent, but it an even bigger relief given the emotional turmoil between Elle and her Dad. She needed something to go right. 

I talked at length with Elle about postponing her surgery until the dust had settled with Dick. Elle was adamant that she keep her surgery date.

Elle made it clear to Dick and Malus that she did not want them at the pre-surgical meeting or the surgery.  She would later agree that Dick could come to the hospital and sit in the waiting room during the surgery for updates and the results of the surgery, but she did not want to see him.  Dick agreed, but Malus on the other hand did not.

At Elle's pre-surgical visit, Malus arrived in the waiting room. She looked at us and didn't say a word, chosing to sit in a different section than Elle, Little Hart, Raylan and I sat. I could have made a scene in the crowded waiting room instead I didn't acknowledged her.  

I wasn't inflicting payback of my own for how Malus had treated me over the past fourteen years. I chose not to because Elle had asked her not to come which she ignored and her behavior during the situation between Elle and Dick back in May.  Malus knew what was going on behind closed doors and yet she told Elle to cover it up because her marriage and family would be over if Elle told anyone or left.

Elle was forced to call me from a public bathroom to tell me what was going on with Dick. When I talked to Malus I was very specific about how I wanted Malus to protect my daughter. I did not want Elle to see or talk to Dick until I could catch a flight home and assess the situation.  I knew that he was drunk and out of control and I didn't need to know any more than that. Malus promised - Hung the phone up and did the complete opposite.


Elle had been diagnosed a year earlier with severe scoliosis.  You would think with a spine curve at a -49 degree you would be able to notice it by the way Elle was standing.  Nope.

Elle's Body BraceThe strange thing is that her body had adjusted to the curvature - she looked like she was standing straight. The only outward sign was her spine had disappeared from view when you looked at her back.  Other than wearing a swimsuit you didn't see her back - so it was easy to not notice.  The only complaint that Elle had initially had was her neck bothered her from time to time.  We attributed it to her sleeping wrong.  

Elle's diagnosis would occur during a routine physical before entering High School.

I've been divorced from Dick for 16 years now. Up until the past few weeks I don't remember the last time he's said a kind word to me. Instead every word out of his mouth has been laced with negativity about; my parenting, my life, my family and that I'm just a POS. He's varied it from being said to my face, behind my back or directly to Elle. I'm a big girl and can handle the talk, but Elle, well that's a different story. For as long as she can remember, Dick has lobbied her pretty much non-stop to see the "truth" about me, with the sole intent to build up his own ego "thank god Elle that you have me!" He has never been able to grasp the point that Elle is apart of me and thus, all of his negativity toward me, directed at Elle has had a direct correlation on her own self worth and self esteem.