I’ve been in a little bit of a blogging slump lately. I’ve just had more going on inside my head than I’ve been able to verbalize, I guess.
But I have been taking pictures!
So, here are a few from a sunrise drive to Shenandoah National Park last weekend, with my ex and our kids:
So one more thing (of many) that is nice about being so amicably separated from the father of my kids is that when we both have a yen for doing something – like throwing the kids into the car and driving an hour-and-a-half into the hills to see the sunrise some morning – we can work together to do it, with no trouble. Which is nice!
I for one would never consider driving out to Shenandoah myself, particularly with the kids. I don’t even have a car right now! But even if I did, I’d vastly rather be chauffeured (on pretty much any occasion) – and thus free to devote all my time to admiring the scenery and chit-chatting or listening to music and thinking about my camera.*
As for my ex, he loves to drive and enjoys escaping into his own head while he does it – and he’s very happy to leave me to manage the little people while he indulges himself there. The “Henry’s on my half of the seat!” and “Maisy made a face at me and hurt my feelings!” kind of stuff coming from the backseat rarely bothers me…but it wears on him a bit.
So these sorts of excursions usually work out well for us. When we go together, we’re each free to play to our particular strengths.
And there’s the added bonus that we can sit back now and enjoy a mini-trip like this and realize that we earned it. Because we really have. We’ve worked pretty hard – really hard, actually – to get to this pleasant, amicable place we’re in now. It’s taken us four years of work to get here. And yes, we still occasionally hit potholes. (The only other people in the world who have had the ability to irritate me as quickly and completely as he does are my brothers when we were growing up!) But all in all, we’re at a place now, he and I, where most of the time we find ourselves sitting back and enjoying the fruit of all the really intensely hard work we’ve already completed. And wow…that’s a nice place to be!
I was Freshly Pressed by WordPress a year ago with a post that discussed (my) amicable divorce, and I got a lot of feedback from that – 99% of which was positive and supportive and complimentary. That experience taught me that there actually are people out there who are interested in the sort of journey my ex and I have found ourselves on.
And one of the things I’ve been thinking about in the last several months is that I should write more about this. Not only because there’s clearly an interest, but also because we ARE at this pleasant place now, and we HAVE put a ton of work in to get here. Sometimes it’s felt so slow and ponderous; it’s been painful and frustrating and just extremely difficult. It’s had all those moments. But the fact is, it gets better. It advances…even if sometimes the pace is slow. A snail’s pace, after all, is still progress. It’s still forward movement. You just have to keep your eye on where you want to go and work to keep putting one foot in front of another.
I’ve been thinking that maybe the reality of that might be encouraging to somebody else??
I know it would have meant a lot to me to have read somebody else’s story on this in the early days of my own split. There’s just a real lack of discourse out there on this sort of thing – and it can feel very isolating. I mean, you’re not only dealing with the end of a marriage; you’re dealing with other people’s judgments and raised eyebrows. In our case, that came from family (luckily not everyone) and people we thought were closer friends. It was hard. It was pretty awful, actually. It just amplifies the painfulness of what is already an extremely difficult time in your life.
Gwyneth Paltrow and her whole “conscious uncoupling” thing was the first moment I can point to where this sort of approach was widely canvassed. (That approach being: throwing all your weight at rebuilding a friendship, so that you can co-parent really companionably together…making THAT your priority and the ruling principle as to how you handle your break-up.) And most of the discussion there was snarky.
I’ve been thinking about this again recently, as another celebrity couple (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner) are now apparently approaching their divorce the same way. “Taking a Page Out of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s Book” was one headline I saw.
True, the headlines I’ve seen on Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s situation generally haven’t been as snarky as those surrounding Gwyneth Paltrow’s – but I think that might have more to do with the snark that generally surrounds Gwyneth Paltrow and the general good-press that seems to surround Jennifer Garner than any openmindedness about these two individuals’ handling of their respective divorces. I don’t necessarily think it indicates that there’s any kind of cultural shift in this area – as much as I’d like to think that’s true.
But regardless, these recent headlines have gotten me thinking about this stuff again – about my own situation with my ex and our kids, about choices in general, about what we think is possible and why we do.
I think I have a few things to say – so I think I must be coming out of my blogging slump.
Maybe this post marks it.
*I just enabled manual focus on my camera for the first time. And it feels like I have a whole new camera! It’s interesting…and awkward too. I’ve been shooting in full manual mode for several months now, but still using auto focus. I didn’t expect manual focus to make such a huge difference to my shots…but it really is. (And not just regarding blur.) Not to mention it requires a different approach to capturing images. It’s forcing me to slow down and think more. It’s challenging! Very interesting too.