Great Ex-pectations

Great Ex-pectations

The last few months have been all about change — losing my job, moving in with my mother, working in my brother's bar. But at the same time, familiar faces from the past are suddenly a part of my life again — my mom, my high school friend Dina, my brother, and now, my ex, Adam.

It's always tricky when an ex comes back into the picture, right? You've usually got some kind of love/hate thing going on that makes everything ten times more confusing than any other relationship. It's even harder when that ex is your high school boyfriend/absentee father of your child. And he's still super hot.

I got pregnant right after high school and Adam pretty much bailed before the doctor could finish saying, "It's a girl!" You know the type — hot young guy who's convinced his "band is gonna make it." He popped in and out of our lives, usually showing up when he needed money. After all, I was the successful one, I was the one who'd "made it" And I have to say, as annoying as it was to be used as a human ATM, I liked being the one who had it all.

Well, by now you guys know that I definitely don't have it all anymore. The "all" I have now could probably fit in one of my old closets. So, I wasn't able to take my daughter Gretchen on an exciting vacation or throw her the fabulous Sweet Sixteen party I wanted to. She did, however, get something unexpected: Adam showed up out of nowhere, with a few surprises of his own.

Now don't get me wrong, Adam's basically a good guy and we were all happy to see him. (My mother was a little too happy. Honestly, I think she has a bigger crush on him than I ever did.) But this time, Adam was the one with money and an awesome gift for Gretchen. At first I was skeptical...did he hold up a bank? Run a con on some unsuspecting old lady? Both of those seemed more likely than him having a real (and legal) job.

But hey, I'm all about personal growth these days and I can admit when I'm wrong. Adam's success was legit and the tables had turned. For years he was a no-show, then suddenly, he was stealing the show with flashy gifts and I couldn't compete. So not fair. I wanted him to come around, but not for him to waltz back in and be the hero when I was at my lowest. For once, Adam had his life together, so when we started disagreeing on how to parent, he actually had some credibility. And to be honest, I resented it.

I'd been solo-parenting for so long, co-parenting was a totally foreign concept. So, the situation got kind of complicated, but I learned a few things about dealing with an ex that I'd like to share:

1) Remember, you wanted your ex to come back and spend more time with your kid, so don't get all territorial when he shows up and starts acting like a parent. Because that will just drive your kid and your ex away and you'll end up trying to follow them in your beat up car that your best friend supposedly fixed and it'll be really embarrassing for you. Take my word for it.

2) Maybe don't sleep with your ex? Unless he's crazy hot, like mine in. In that case, just make sure your keep it a secret. Make sure he sneaks out while everyone is sleeping and doesn't get caught by your child. That just gets super awkward, for everyone involved.

3) Agree on some boundaries and rules for raising your kids so that there's a consistent message. For example, if you're cool with your daughter and her boyfriend hanging out together at night, but your ex isn't, you should go work that out privately, not, for example, in a screaming match on the lawn in the middle of the night. Trust me, cops will get called, things will get ugly...and your nosy neighbors will just have more to gossip about.

I'm trying hard here, but I know I'm not exactly the poster child 'World's Best Mom', so I understand if you don't want to just take my word for it. I'm reassured because Amy said to me, "Teenagers know you're not perfect. They will cut you some slack. They love you even if you are making bad decisions with your ex."

Anyway, I figured I could get along with my ex for a little while, and he never stayed for more than a few days anyway. But this time, he's talking about staying in town. In the event of that emergency, I'll probably have some new stories to share, and you better believe I'll be writing to Amy for more advice, which I will definitely will pass on to you.

You're welcome.

~ Jennifer Doyle
Jennifer Falls, Wednesdays 10:30/9:30c on TV Land

Jennifer Doyle Jun. 19, 2014, 1:04 PM | In Family & Parenting | Answer this!
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