When my ex-husband, Denny, and I worked through our divorce, we both wholeheartedly agreed that our children would come first. Those 9 months were messy and painful for both of us, we chose to cohabitate to make it easier for the kids (and ourselves financially) during the transitions. Tongues were held, tears were shed, as we shifted to awkward roommates.

12 months later, I can honestly say that I am grateful for the relationship Denny and I have now. Our children are loved, and though we may not always agree on every subject, we know that the kids will be cared for. My kids will never hear me talk poorly about their father, and I am confident that my ex feels the same. We both came from “broken homes” and knew we never wanted our children to feel as if they had to chose sides. We would not let them suffer because of our choices.

I won’t lie, it took me several months to get to that point. I was filled with bitterness and rage for quite some time. Anyone who has been divorced know that it saps the fight out of you. My outlook was greatly impacted by having an inside look to the dad’s point of view. I have several wonderful men in my life who have been divorced, and they were all very supportive as I asked questions. My now fiance, Martin, was also knee deep in a divorce last year.

Through heartbreaking phone calls, I got to see how terrified Martin was by the idea of not seeing his children. At times he was completely broken, willing to give his ex anything and everything for a few more days/nights with his kids. I died a little inside every time his voice broke.

Watching him struggle through arguments and spend hours talking to lawyers softened my heart. It seamed monstrous. Even now, I watch their relationship and it makes me cringe. The arguments about money, time with kids, pulling up the past relationship. I can’t even fathom still being stuck in that place emotionally after a year.

I made the choice that I didn’t want that life for myself, I would not let divorce ruin my life, or my ex-husband’s. I decided that while I didn’t want to be married to my ex anymore, I didn’t want to cause him unnecessary pain. I promised Denny that I would never, ever keep him from seeing our children, and I meant it. I’ve made efforts to give them more time together. I’ve found ways to help them interact.

We were lucky enough to have Denny move just a short walk away when he found an apartment in our complex. The kids still struggled with the change, and I can’t imagine the sadness my ex-husband felt at leaving the kids, but we are all adjusting.

It really doesn’t take much effort on my part to help encourage the relationship my children have with their father. My kids love snapchat. As obnoxious as it is, I figured Denny would appreciate random little videos from the kids. The kids now recognize his name in the list of recipients and send him weird nonsense whenever they want. I set up google photo folder, shared it with Denny, and every few days I drop all the pictures of our kids into it. I don’t want him to feel like he is missing their childhood, and it takes all of 2 minutes to move my absurd amount of photos into that little folder. They make him gifts, they draw him pictures, and they very much look forward to his visits every week.

I have made some mistakes along the way, and will continue to do so, but we work together to raise our children. I’ve forgotten to pack toothbrushes or shoes, and he is always a good sport about having to come back to get them. I’ve had last minute plans and needed to change visitation times, and he has been flexible.

We work better now than we ever did married, and we make sure our children see it. They can easily see that we are happier. They can see that we love them. Divorce has not broken our home, we have simply expanded it. My kids will grow up with not only 2 parents, but a whole tribe of adults to love and guide them.

Our daughter just turned 7 this month, and decided we had to go ice skating. Denny and I worked together to organize everything. As children ran around my living room, screaming and chasing balloons, everything felt right. Denny sat on my couch, snuggling our son, my fiance and best friend helped set up. I couldn’t help but smile. I later saw him go zooming by on the skating ring, holding the hands of 2 little girls. He had the biggest stupid smile on his face.

To my ex-husband, thank you for being you and loving the kids that we made. I know life didn’t play out like we had planned, but I am forever grateful for everything you do for us.

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