Lizzie's 11th birthday is on Saturday. When she was younger, her father and I strictly adhered to our parenting agreement for birthdays - normal visitation. As the custodial parent, "normal visitation" equates to my having Lizzie for her birthday five years in a row, then two off (unless it falls on my weekend), repeat. No downside for me except, up until last year, Lizzie had two birthday parties: one at my house with all her friends and one at his house. Last year, I made a decision to end the double celebration because I'm not raising spoiled, self-indulgent children over here.
Lizzie's father and I have been divorced nine years - much longer than we were together - and have co-existed with relative ease at piano recitals, dance recitals, school plays, soccer games and the odd holiday. His parents still love me and have accepted Madhubby and my children with little animosity. My ex and I have moved on, too, and are both singularly focused on providing balanced and positive parenting for our daughter, so it stands to reason that we can celebrate her birthday together.
Last year, he came over and grilled all the food for her party. I was in charge of planning the activities and the party went off with only a small hitch. This year is his planning year but he waited until the last minute so Lizzie is having a "family" party; summer birthdays are difficult for "friend" parties anyway because a lot of her friends go to their vacation homes and/or travel throughout the summer. Despite his delayed planning, my ex, in the spirit of co-parenting, is going to take both Lizzie and Olie to an early movie, I'll pick up the cake, and we will all convene in the afternoon at the amusement park.
It's Rockwellian, I know. Well, maybe not the divorce part, but it hasn't always been this easy. I still remember the police removing my four year old daughter from my home on Christmas Eve. We both seem to have grown up a bit since then. So much so, that we may even open a restaurant together! When I hear of the strife other divorced couples have, I think surely one parent must have lost sight of the big picture. Really, all one needs to do is focus on the needs of the child and the right decision will reveal itself.