THE BLOG

How to Celebrate Your Kid's Birthday As Co-Parents

03/31/2015 01:42 pm ET | Updated May 29, 2015

As we near the end of the divorce process, my ex and I have celebrated every single holiday or anniversary apart at this point besides our daughter's birthday ... until this past week.

On the big official day when she turned 4, Dad was there to greet her in the morning and I was not. I felt like the worst mom ever. How do you sufficiently explain to a child that you can't see him or her because it's the other parent's day when your child is so little? At that point since it was her father's weekend and we had had a snowstorm which kept her at her dad's for an extra day since I was stuck in traffic home from work, I hadn't seen her in over four days. That never happens! I was literally jonesing to see my child. I just needed to see her face because Skype just isn't enough some days. It doesn't matter how connected we are with technology, when you're co-parenting nothing feels close enough sometimes unless you're with your children in the flesh. An eight minute video call can feel like torture. A tease reminding you that yes, you have a child but you are separated from this child and that that child is living a whole other life without you.

So since it was her birthday and we had been apart for so long, I decided to take a half day at work and pick her up from preschool, something I don't typically get to do.

When I entered the school to get her, she was coming back from gym class.

"Mommy! Mommy!" she squealed, running into my arms.

It was the best feeling. I was missed as much as she had been missed. We spent the day playing and then met up with my father and a few of my close friends at a local restaurant for dinner and cake. My girl was happy. She wasn't crabby. Didn't question where Daddy was. She felt loved. All she was focused on was the ice cream cake. It was the best present I could receive.

But then a few days later came her big birthday party. My ex and I decided to celebrate together. His family, my family, our friends, and her little classmates came to bounce and play at a local bounce house in celebration of our girl turning the big 4. She had a fabulous time. My ex and I were good hosts. If you didn't know our situation, we looked just like any old happy family. And I wouldn't have changed a thing. There was no way our kid was going to split her classmates or friends up so Dad and I didn't have to celebrate together. We wanted her to have a good time, and she did.

There was this ache inside of me though. Despite appearances, we weren't going home together and no, he will never be my husband again and this is the right choice for everyone involved after much deliberation and therapy. There is no turning back. At moments in our divorce, there were times when it was questionable: is this really going to happen, we thought? Yes it is. I don't question the choice we made and in the end, our child will grow up in two happy environments instead of one very sad one, but I wonder when things won't feel so awkward still. When I won't grieve missing members of his family that I don't get to see so much anymore. When the weekends I don't have my child won't feel so empty and quiet. When it won't be so weird to be a family of two. It's been a year since we made our choice and most of the times I feel good and hopeful but sometimes when I least expect it, I feel such pangs of sadness.

In the end though, I am very proud we gathered together for our girl. I hope we continue to always put her first , our loving child who deserves that from the two of us as her parents. Despite our marital status she will always be the best thing to come out of our marriage.