A Modern Family Valentine

valentine modern family

“I know, my car’s a mess.  You don’t have to tell me.”

“I’ve seen it look worse,” says S., the man who thrives on order, as he loads the oversized pictures into the back of my cargo space.

He follows me to the store in his car. I asked him when he scheduled the weekend with me to bring his tool box and a drill.

Somewhere along East Oak Island Drive he disappears from behind me.

A few minutes later, he shows up in my parking lot, handing me a cup of coffee.

“Where’d you go?”  I ask. “B.’s place?” I’m referring to the coffee house on the center of the island.

“Yeah, the one across from Food Lion.”

“Did you tell her who you are?”

“Oh, yeah, we’re old friends now, me and B., and everyone else who was in her shop,” S. replies with a wry smile. “I told her about my two ex-wives and two sets of kids at my house for Christmas morning. That we’re all just a friendly bunch.”

It’s true.  I spent Christmas morning in S.’s kitchen, talking to his first ex-wife about a designer purse she bought for a steal at a thrift store in Colorado.

We get to work.  We put up the sign in the front of my store.


We hang pictures.



(Yes, that’s Jimi.  He takes up an entire wall – and deservingly so.)

We assemble shelves and change out door knobs.  A business colleague who drives by sees us hanging the sign and stops in to say hello.   “This is S.,” I say, as I hold the metal sign in place while S. drills it into the side of the building. I still don’t know how to introduce him to new people.  Ex-husband?  Father of my children?

When we get back home, I turn to him.

“I need you to take K.’s car for a drive.”  K. is my friend who owns this house, who keeps her SUV in the driveway.

“Do what?”

“It’s a manual, I don’t know how to drive it.  Oh, and can you put some air in her tires while you’re out?”

I hand him four quarters.

“You got anything else for me on your list?” (I think I may detect a touch of sarcasm.)

“Actually yes.  I think there might be a slight leak in one of the pipes under the kitchen sink.  I noticed it this morning.”

He fixed the pipe.  Of course.

In between chores, he took the kids bowling, to the movies, and for walks on the beach.

We play Twenty Questions, Monopoly, and Apples to Apples.

We have Valentine’s Day dinner together as a family.

When it’s time for him to leave on Saturday night, the children cry through their goodbyes.

When he’s gone, the house feels empty.

“You should move here,” I say, many times over the weekend.

“Not here like in this house – but to the area.”

It’s been a discussion we’ve held for a long time. I think someday it might happen.

Romantically, S. and I have both moved on, but we’ll always be a family.

We’re in a good place, the two of us.  It wasn’t always this way.  We didn’t do marriage well.  I didn’t do marriage well.  I didn’t do early post-marriage well, either.  There were fights and threats and all kinds of accusations.

Nothing in this life is permanent.  Not even the things that feel the most secure.  People, things, jobs, friends, spouses, birth, life, death, it all changes as quickly as the earth spins on its axis.

Sometimes, our greatest loves become our greatest adversaries.

Yet other times, our greatest adversaries become friends.

With friends, you grow wings. 




A Modern Family Valentine — 77 Comments

    • Girl, I have become blonder and blonder every month since November. It’s contagious down here, that blonde thing!

      And yes, I am so very lucky to have this relationship with my ex. So very very lucky.

  1. That’s so amazing you can have that kind of relationship now with your ex. I can’t imagine how hard the divorce was (on both of you) and how nasty it got, but to be able to put that behind you for the sake of family is STELLAR.

    Congrats on getting another phase of your building done, too. You KNOW I’m diggin’ that Hendrix picture! Bad-to-the-bone!
    Beth Teliho recently posted…Rock Star Moments, Hockey, And Lingerie. Not All At Once. Maybe.My Profile

    • Beth, I’m very lucky. A lot of divorced couples never get to this place. Plus, I really do enjoy his company, and the weekends he’s here are fun (Well – maybe not so much for him given how much I put him to work 🙂 And that Hendrix picture is HUGE! I hope you get to see it one day IRL xo

  2. I understand why this is hard to do. Ego and battle wounds and if there was betrayal in the marriage or trust issues – and the list goes on. I always remind myself that S. is the man I wanted to marry and that there was a reason for that. He’s a good guy. It takes two of us to make this ‘Modern Family” work – and he definitely helps make this happen, too!

    • You know Tam, this could totally be a TV show. I should pitch this.
      Oh my gosh – you were the best Valentine’s Day date EVER. xxxooo

    • Oh, my sweet city Girl – thank you for the good vibes. We all love having S. around. It’s a good time. And he was pretty cool about my putting him to work. And I can’t WAIT for you to come see Jimi (and me!) in person! xxxoo

    • You know what Karen? It helps that despite our “deep and fundamental differences,” that I genuinely like this man. Although I’d like to believe that even if I didn’t, I’d pull it together for my kids. Thank you so much for your good vibes! xo

    • Rabia, that’s it. Respect by virtue of being human. Yes, we flung around a lot of anger last year, but at some point, you have to let that go. In any situation I’d like to think. xo

  3. This makes me so very happy!!! I think I told you once that I grew up with divorced parents and they did not get along and it was never pleasant to even have the 2 stand together (still not – weddings and college graduations are always a mess!). The fact that S comes and stays with y’all and helps you with your to-dos is awesome!!! I truly hope that one day he will move close to y’all – sounds like it would be a good situation all the way around!!
    Kim recently posted…I Love the Olympics but I’m not Loving the CoverageMy Profile

    • Oh, Kim, I empathize. My birth father caused all kinds of drama and didn’t show up for lots and lots of family events because he refused to be in the same room as my mother. This only hurts the kids and I pray to God that no matter what the path is for S. and I that we can always put our children first. ((HUGS))

    • Oh, Jen! That’s ironic that I spent more time with S. than you did with your hubby. And yes, it was a great weekend. Here’s to a fabulous week ahead for all of us. xo

  4. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this…. But, you know that already! It actually brought tears to my eyes.
    I miss you guys! Can’t wait til’ you are up here SOON!!!!! xoxo

    • I miss you too my friend! I’ll be up there in 2 months! I can’t wait to see you and all of my little loves in your house. xxxoooo

  5. Love the picture of you with your children. Absolutely beautiful! And I can’t wait to see more of your new space. You’re teasing us with this sneak peek! Finally, thank you for sharing your modern family stories with us. Your children are very lucky that you and S. can come together as a family!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted…What is Love?My Profile

    • Thanks Nicole! You will all see more of the new space soon! Promise! And I am so very lucky to call this my family. Talk about good vibes!

  6. Is it weird that I want to sit at your table with you and S. and drink hot chocolate (I know…I’m still 10) and revel in your relationship? I love that you guys are friends. I feel like this is a weekly show and I’m over here waiting with anticipation for him to say, “Yes, I’ll move here.” I love that he still putts around your house and brings you coffee. You should be proud of both of you for making it work.
    AnnMarie recently posted…Happy Birthday, Dad!My Profile

    • No, it’s not weird! I want you to sit with us at the table! And S. can pick up that hot chocolate for you from the coffee shop where he gets my coffee! And yes, this is turning into a series, I suppose. And the cliffhanger of the week – will he move or won’t he move? Well, this might be a longer cliff hanger than that…

  7. Every time I read about you and S., I’m so happy for both of you that you’ve found this place where you are. But I’m even happier for your children. To have two parents who respect one another and still spend time as a family – what you are giving them is priceless. Can’t wait to see your place – I’ve never done yoga, but if I lived near you I would be there in a heartbeat!
    Dana recently posted…The evolution of Valentine’s DayMy Profile

  8. OH how I love to read how helpful S was!!!! And your picture!! That is just so precious of you and the kiddos!! Girl, you are BLONDE!!! And I am DYING to see “it” FINISHED!!! I swear, it’s all I can do to NOT get a plane ticket over there just in time for the grand opening!!!!

    I’d say that was absolutely the most perfect Valentine’s Day! I wish he could move in the area too… I wish he would be able to help you like this much more often.
    Chris Carter recently posted…Devotional Diary: Broken Hearted In Need Of LoveMy Profile

    • He was awesome about helping out. And yes, I am BLONDE. There is no mistaking that!

      You know, in the Beaches movie version of our friendship, I think there would be a lot of jumping on planes to run to on another with tear inducing soundtracks running in the background.

    • Thank you Alison. I am fortunate in that I have a really good partner in this, meaning S. – in that he has responded to kindness with kindness and continues to do so.

  9. You may not have done marriage well but you most definitely do divorced parenting well and that is huge! My parents divorced when I was 17 and as pathetic as it makes me sound I find I still have issues that resurface because of that time.
    Jess recently posted…Weekend ThingsMy Profile

    • We’ve never gotten along better and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Marriage wasn’t for us – but this we can do well. And I think that a bad divorce affects kids at any age.

  10. I am really glad that you and S have gotten yo this place. Although it’s still hard on your children to be separated, this is the absolute best thing you can do for them. And it’s so cool that he is willing to help you like that! xoxo
    Alexa recently posted…Do Good, Feel GoodMy Profile

    • Oh my gosh! He was great with the helping out around the store and the house! And yes, this is hard on the kids. But all and all, the vibe is so much friendlier than we are all together than it used to be. Hopefully better in the long run?

  11. Love. Love. Love. This is how it should be. Love. Good for you. Hard. But what a gift to your children. I see the other side (not with me and my ex – we are all good) – but with my hubby and his ex – 7 years and on valentine’s – while having dinner with the kids, the courier comes with court documents for him. Miserable. You have it right sister – as hard as it is at times. XOX
    Leah Davidson recently posted…Quote of the WeekMy Profile

    • Oh, Leah, I am so sorry to hear that your husband was served on Valentine’s Day! That’s awful. It’s so hard when the feelings are so intense that revenge is the only way to deal with them – even if we call it something else. Praying for peace for you guys – that’s what everyone deserves.

  12. I’m so glad that you two are able to be so friendly to each other. For your own sanity and for your kids. My parents were awful to each other when they divorced. And while some of it might have even been justified, it was not fun to have to listen to. My mom has been remarried for almost 25 years now and my dad for almost 20… and yet there is STILL hostility.
    Shell recently posted…ISO a Mom Friend Who…My Profile

    • I am always so sad to hear about this hostility – I experienced it with my dad and his attitude toward my mother – and even as an adult, I hated it. It’s so much better for everyone when there is peace.

  13. Have you considered writing a book? You are such an amazing writer and I genuinely believe you could provide valuable insight into how to handle divorce with dignity and grace. You are amazing. :)-Ashley

    • You know what Ashley? I would love to write this book one day. I kind of want to see where this all goes – personally – and collect some more insight along the way. But doing divorce well? Yes. Hopefully I can continue to do so and share my insights as they come.

  14. Yes, nothing is permanent. When Pauline’s dad and I separated at first there were accusations, threats – the whole nine yard. Now we co-parent our daughter and I can definitely say we’re friends. Sometimes it just takes a moment…
    (I still insist that matter of the heart are never resolved completely 😉 )
    Kerstin @ Auer Life recently posted…Wasting TimeMy Profile

    • Kerstin – I agree with you – on matters of the heart. How can they EVER be fully resolved? My pendulum still swings over past loves and I suppose they always will – especially S. I spend a third of my life with him. I am so glad you and your ex are friends as well. for you and for Pauline.

    • It was REALLY NICE to have help to get things done! S. was always great that way. and I miss it. I’ll take it for a weekend. Any time!

    • Lisa, the first year was very difficult and hardly as friendly as it is now. It took time. But I am glad we have reached this place.

  15. I love that you have such an amazing relationship with your ex. Really love it. My ex and I don’t speak AT ALL. But I do talk to his mom, which is nice because well, she’s still family to me. You rock. And so does your ex for fixing the pipe and hanging signs and all that awesome stuff.

  16. Unfortunately some romantic relationships work much better as non-romantic ones. My college boyfriend, who I dated for the majority of my four years there and then again briefly after we graduated, were very serious and talked about marriage. While it didn’t last, I feel very fortunate that we make great friends. It didn’t happen overnight, but I’m so glad he is still in my life. I can only imagine what it is like when you have even more years under your belt sand have children together. I hope your relationship with S. in this way continues to thrive.
    Bev recently posted…14 Things Worth CelebratingMy Profile

    • Bev! That is wonderful! I think it also goes to show that any relationship should start with a great friendship – and how nice that your relationship changed but didn’t have to end.

  17. I’m really really glad that you and S are able to be on good terms and work together like this. It’s really inspiring especially as I watch some other relationships around me implode. And it’s not pretty. It’s a really great example for your kids.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Click. Snap.My Profile

    • Christine – I hear a lot of friends who have friends who are divorcing. Something hard about that 10 year mark with a marriage that makes it sink or swim – or at least it seems. I’m very lucky that even though my marriage ended – that we’ve been able to being this great new chapter.

    • Whacked out love story! yes! That sound byte is as awesome as the one making fear my bitch 🙂 And how cool about the Hendrix Shirt. There is no one else like Jimi!

  18. Your S stories are always interesting. Has this family lifestyle interfered with either of you all’s dating? I’m just curious. I know of a lot of women would not allow their “friends” to engage with the ex-wife like this. Anywho, I’m happy for you that ya’ll are getting along so well. Great for the children!
    Joi recently posted…15 Reasons I Will Love Your BlogMy Profile

    • You know what Joi? This is one of those sacred things – these weekends – that the right guy will have to trust it for what it is. And so will S.’s women!

  19. wow, I admire your family so much! It shows a lot about the type of woman you are to be chatting up purses with your ex’s ex. However, I’d probably do the same depending on how great the deal was. 🙂 Its great that he comes down and does all the little things that need to be done too. and HELL YEA to Jimi taking up a wall! *fist bump*
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…What is Your Food Confession? Clean Your Slate With Women’s Health Magazine!My Profile

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  21. That’s so admirable. It’s true when they say that time heals wounds. I think you’ve done such a great job of keeping the friendship.

  22. Just so you know: you are an incredibly inspiration to me. I know it takes a lot of work to get to that kind of place with an ex (never mind your ex hubby/father of your kids) but I really admire the fact that you both work through your differences for the sake of a new normal and for the sake of your children.

    After you open your granola store (which I’m so excited about, btw), you must write a parenting manual for today’s modern family 🙂 Think about it.

    Charlotte recently posted…Living with the one you loveMy Profile

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