But every now and then I get a teeny tiny moment that borders on "the way it was supposed to be."
Yesterday was E's first dentist appointment. Honestly, if I were a good parent, he would have gone to the dentist when he was two...but I'm merely mediocre, so I waited to make his first appointment until just before DCS got involved. And honestly, I was dreading it. I just KNEW E would clamp his mouth shut and refuse to let "the nice lady count his teeth." I just knew it. So earlier in the week I sent Ex a text letting him know I had made the appointment. Since the appointment was on one of Ex's custody days, I asked him to bring E to the dentist and meet me there. We generally try to do medical appointments together when possible, just because it keeps us on the same page, eliminates any confusion about E's health and well-being, and I think it makes us both feel a little less crappy for forcing E into such a shit situation in the first place. (Or it does for me anyway.)
When I pulled up to the dentist's office, Ex was getting E out of the car. I hugged him (E, not Ex) and took his hand as we walked in. I didn't know what kind of prep work Ex had done for this whole experience, so I tried to get E excited about what was about to happen. "Are you ready for them to count your teeth?!? It's going to be so great! They will make sure they are all healthy and then you will get a special new toothbrush and probably a sticker!!!!"
We walked in, handed over insurance cards, signed papers, and then they called us back. And then cool stuff just started happening. E was a total champ during the whole thing, only shaking one time when he saw them aim the little scraper tool at his face. Ex held his hand. I patted his leg. And he did awesome! Then they gave him two little red cars, and he played until the dentist came to do the final exam. And while he played, Ex and I chit chatted about his need to get his teeth worked on, my work, and just life in general. It was downright pleasant. In fact, until I told the dentist that E splits the week between us, she probably didn't even realize that we weren't one big happy family.
Because here's the deal. Ex and I were horrible at marriage. But we are FREAKING AWESOME at divorce. E has never seen us fight. He's never seen us be mean. He's never heard us say harsh things about the other one. We have worked really hard through the course of E's life, so that his security is affected as little as possible. We have a really important common goal of making sure that our son is happy, healthy, and loved. And, apparently that his teeth are clean.
We walked out of the dentist office, and I was very aware that although our situation isn't the happy little family that I had once envisioned, that we are very much a team. And I couldn't help but wonder if E in fact does feel secure. Does he feel safe and fulfilled even though he goes back and forth all the time? Does he know that he is loved? Does he ever feel torn between us?
Is he ok?
And then E answered my question. He put his left hand in Ex's and his right hand in mine, took a flying leap, and hollered, "Daddy, Mama, SWING ME!!!"
So Ex and I walked through the parking lot, swinging our cavity free child, who smiled and laughed, because he knew we wouldn't drop him. He knew that he could fly through the air and come back down safely...because Daddy was in one hand and Mama was in the other.
So I guess everything is just as it should be.