Long ago and far away when I was in the throws of divorce, arguing with my soon to be ex was as normal as cream is in my coffee. No matter what mantra, yoga pose or affirmation I muttered, a full blown argument was inevitable. Fighting became the norm and I got used to the pounding in my stomach each time the phone rang. If fact, I became a fighting warrior!! As time went on I looked forward to my verbal rumbles with my soon to be ex. The day wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t engage in some type of exchange. In retrospect, I wonder if this was some twisted way of staying in communication with each other.
Back in the day, when my kids (now nearly 20 and 18) were barely out of diapers all the world was fair game. We fought about everything from bath bubbles to the proper way of teaching our son how to tie his shoe. I remember ridiciulous rants about velcro, cotton underwear and Superman. I remember having huge issues with pull-ups and how they confused our daughter and then completely changing my opinion later that week. I remember going ape-shit about applesauce and how there shoud be no added sugar in anything my precious darling ate (this came from the mom who had an arsenal of Coco Puffs and Trix in the cupboard). I was arguing for the sake of arguing and the need to be right.
As the years passed the arguements changed shape but my zest for winning didn’t waiver. The subject of the fights focused on which friends were deemed “good influences” and what time was considered a suitable bedtime. (Was there really that big of a difference between 8:15 and 8:30?) I do remember a full blown fight about not allowing my son to watch Gladiator at seven years old. Just think of the long term effects that could have on him? He would think violence was okay and not “use his words.” To this day I can feel my blood boil over that one.
But, was it really about the added sugar in the applesauce or the extra fifteen minutes at bedtime? Now that I am old and wise, I see that it was about control and my lack of it. No longer did I have a say in everything I allowed my children to eat or what they watched or when they went to sleep. When they were at dad’s house a bit of candy was considered okay. I had to learn to let go and relinquish control. It was unnatural and went against my “mommy grain.” But, in the world of divorce, this is one of the things we surrender when we make the decision to raise our children in two different households.
Needless to say, violent movies, later bedtimes and candy definintely got the better rating from my kids. No longer did Barney the Dinosaur, an eight o’clock bedtime and munching on carrot sticks. (with ranch dressing) get the kid votes.
Now, don’t think just because your children are growing up that the arguements will cease and desist. Once again, the only thing that changes is the subject matter. In High School, it might be an argument about driving lessons or when it is appropriate to allow dating. Then it can get really sticky when a girlfriend wants spend the night because she’s too tired to drive all the way home. ( ten minutes, really?) Then come the debates about drugs and legalized marijuana. Arguing with your ex-spouse is like the gift that keeps on giving.
So a word from the “been there and still there”: the arguments don’t end. They change form. In fact, just the other day I felt my temperature rising as we spoke excitedly about scholarships for college. My former husband told me not to argue. “I am not arguing- I am speaking passionately! Didn’t you figure that out after all these years?”
Truth be told, I have gotten used to our debates. They are exhausting and at times unnerving, but my ranting must have paid off in some way. My kids enjoy unsweetened applesauce and my son doesn’t have violent tendencies due to an rated R movie he watched when he was seven.
I am the only one who goes to sleep at eight thirty and I do worry about the day when I will need velcro sneakers. Life goes on and chidren grow up forming their own opinions, regardless of the sugar cereal we did or didn’t feed them.
Lesson learned- don’t sweat the small stuff.