The last time you saw your ex-husband, maybe you said to yourself: "I will see him in hell." Perhaps you thought of a milder version of distain: "I hope I never see him again as long as I live." But life has taken charge and you are staring down the barrel of your first, albeit forced reunion -- the child of your marriage is getting married.
With only three months until the wedding, thoughts race through your mind: "How could my child do this to me?" You wonder how many pounds you could shed, or if you had plastic surgery now, whether or not you'll still be bruised for the wedding. You wonder if you have gone from being the "hottie" he married with no pounds to hide to the matronly mother of the bride. And then there is the issue of how much cleavage to show, to show him what he is missing. You wonder if you can you dance with wild abandon while wearing Spanx and 4-inch heels. Your friends assure you that you are beautiful while at the same time offering to loan you money for a personal trainer.
Memories start flooding back; resentments which had been maintained at a slow simmer now are starting to reboil. You either go home and do fifty sit-ups, up your meds or go straight for the Little Debbie's. Will the new spouse look better than you? You hate her, she hates you, your child likes her, and you hate that. Your emotions are like a Cuisinart with the lid off. You wonder if everyone will know you are having a hard time. Isn't everyone watching you out of the corner of their eye? In your mind, you are no longer thinking of it as The Wedding but as The Dreading.
Above all, you are mad at yourself for being so self-centered. This is not your day after all, or is it? This day -- while fragile and consuming for you -- is not "your day." Although this is a happy time for your child, they are feeling fragile as well. One of their greatest stressors might be worrying about how you handle yourself at the event. Let's face it; a good karma divorce does not always occur. Seeing your ex from time to time at various events is bound to happen. Don't let your past history create a defining moment for your child's future.
Here are five tips to help ensure you and your child have a special day:
1. Make it all about the happy celebration for your child. It is his/her time to shine, walk down the aisle with confidence and know that the parents are here in a supportive way.
2. Your anger is an uninvited guest at the wedding. Anger is about as welcome as the grim reaper showing up with a measuring stick. This is a zero tolerance standard. Don't blow it even a little.
3. Make sure you have at least one friend or family member by your side. Ideally one that is supportive and not too honest if his new wife is pretty.
4. If you are feeling tearful about your own life, don't fight it; just hide those tears in the sentimental ones you are already shedding about your child's wedding.
5. Do not induce guilt when choices have to be made about things such as seating arrangements, invitations, or who is marching with him or her down the aisle. The greatest gift you can give your child is keeping him or her from experiencing a loyalty bind. If you have to, you can feel hurt later.
I have performed a lot of marriages for my friends who have been distressed mother of the brides and I can tell you that the impressions your ex comes away with in the end are not really about how you look. It is about your attitude and how well you have fared in life over the years. You and your former spouse have both gone through a lot. Your resilience is the measure he will judge you by. This is about acting with grace under pressure and never letting him see you sweat. He may not be missing your cleavage, but let him see what he missed as you evolved over the years.