I just returned from spending a week in Kansas. My daughter and I stayed in the home of Tom and Nicole: Tom, the man that I lived with for ten years, seven of which he was my husband; and Nicole, the woman he is now married to, along with their two children.
There are certain ideas about friendship that seem to be unwritten rules for society. One rule is that you are supposed to hate your ex-husband's wife. She's supposed to be the nasty step-mother to your children and the point of contention for many of your own inadequacies. This rule just makes it easier for you to say mean things and feel better about your pathetic self.
I guess I'm just not a rule follower, because I have found an unexpected friendship with my ex's wife, Nicole. She is one of the most awesome people that I know. Nicole is one of those people that is so full of love that you just can't help but love her back.
As I was planning the trip, I had every intention of staying in a hotel. I thought it would be best for my daughter, Laura, to spend her Spring Break with Tom's family without me there; not to mention it was just a little weird. Immediately, Nicole would not hear of it. She tried to convince me that she wanted me there because she was homesick for friends. She was excited about the idea of having someone to hang out with who was over the age of four years old. At first I said "no", stuck by my guns and even spent time on Priceline.com looking for an affordable hotel. Then Laura participated in a beauty pageant. I spent a little more money than I budgeted because it was just so darn fun to see her all "beauty'd" up. And then . . . gas prices!! Gee Wiz, they went up to $3.60 per gallon. Definitely a factor that I hadn't planned three months ago. So I broke down and decided that I would stay in their home. Apprehension dissolved as soon as I walked in the door. Tom and Nicole welcomed me into their home and showed me a great time.
Part of the trip was to acquaint Laura with her new school. Laura will be living with Tom & Nicole for her freshman year of high school. While I'm supportive of this decision, I wasn't sure I was going to like the idea of my baby living so far away from me for a whole school year. Nicole, Laura and I visited her new school and it was fabulous. The school is like a mini-college, with many wonderful academic opportunities. Now I'm not sure how I'm going to get Laura to come back home. In fact, it made me want to go back to school just so I can go there too.
A highlight of the trip was the fact that it overlapped with April Fool's Day. Nicole and I pulled off a hilarious joke on Tom. We told him that I was going to move back to Kansas, live in their basement for six months to a year, all on his dime. We were both surprised when he was ok with it. We had to push the envelope and say some really crazy things before he started to squirm. Nicole and I laughed until we cried. That sure told me that we were great friends!
My favorite experience from my stay was the love that I found in their home. I instantly fell in love with Nicole's two girls. I already had somewhat of a relationship with them, but this trip made me confused about who they are to me. I now have feelings for these two babies that I can't really quantify. I'm not going to even try. Love is love, no matter who the person is. This morning when I woke up in my own bed, I missed the sounds of Rebecca singing and Natalie getting ready for school.
I'm so happy that I had the chance to stay for a whole week in their home. It gave me a chance to see that Tom and Nicole are the perfect match for each other. And let me say, for anyone who knew Tom when we were married, this is not a bad thing. Tom has grown into a wonderful new man and only the shell remains of who he was when we were together (with a touch of the old passive aggressive behaviors - haha!). Nicole has done for him what I always wanted to do but couldn't. She has shown him what love in a family means. He is a great dad to his girls and a wonderful husband to Nicole. This was great to see and helps me move passed some of the anger that I've held for too long. One day, I'll be able to let go of it all and until then, hopefully trips like this will help.
Obviously, when I first knew of Nicole, I didn't want to like her, but it didn't take long for me to see the character of this woman. She loved my daughter so much that she wouldn't let me "not" like her. Within a couple of years, we tolerated each other. Another year and I really liked her a lot. I used to tell my friends that if she wasn't married to my ex-husband, I think we could be really good friends. After five or six years, it was at a point where I could say that we were really good friends, even though she was married to my ex-husband. During this week, my friendship with Nicole grew to a new level. And I can now say that I have found an unexpected BFF in Nicole.