Following their official divorce announcement, it has been widely reported, though not officially confirmed, that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner went on vacation together with their children to the Bahamas as their statement went out to the masses. Sources also report that Ben and Jen plan to live on the same property. If speculation is accurate, then is this another case of celebrity craziness? What is going on???
What's going on is something that goes on in many newly divorced homes. They are dreaming of something rare as a rainbow unicorn, the "kumbaya divorce." I know this dream. I dreamed this dream.
Even for those who manage to divorce without a nasty court battle, there is usually still some healthy measure of messiness. Several years ago as I dried my tears and settled into my newly divorced life, I threw out a Thanksgiving invitation to my ex and his family to see if it would stick. It didn't. Further holiday and vacation invitations were left hanging in the air. "Come to Disney with us, get your own room, don't miss it!" We have yet to break bread together on the day of thanks or exchange holiday gifts all together in one home on one night. But I believe that one day we'll all be together at my beach house for a weekend and that we will overlap a few days on vacation. In separate rooms and hopefully in different wings of the hotel.
Where there is too much anger and vitriol, kumbaya is impossible. But, if you get to a place where hostility fades to mere occasional discomfort, the good can outweigh the bad. This is the teeny dream I have lived. Three days a year, 3- out of 365 days- my kids get a night with both of their parents. We are not in the noisy gym for their basketball games or on the field with 200 others at camp visiting day. Three times a year, (one for each of their birthdays and the night before my son goes to sleep away camp) we go out to dinner. Our original nuclear family shares a table for a few hours. What was once hard to tolerate has eased into something different than but related to comfortable and enjoyable. Truthfully any enjoyment is directly related to the real joy that emanates from both of our children when they are with both of their parents. At the same time.
Why do I continue to dream the dream of the kumbaya divorce? It's not to gloss over what we are. A family once intact and now split. But, as far as I am concerned, we are a family. That is what I have been fighting for and why I still send invitations, why I visit my niece and nephew when I can and keep in touch via technology since, for now, it's not at family gatherings and Passover Seders.
For me, family doesn't dissipate; family doesn't break when two in the family decide to live separately. Family is family and I want my kids to be able to enjoy all of their family together. If I cant make that happen all of the time, them I'm going to try my best to make it a reality more than just 3 nights a year.
Ben and Jen aren't so different than the rest of us muddling through divorce. Sure he's now "Batman" and they have an estimated net worth of $135 million dollars. But, they are parents splitting up their family, perhaps chasing and dreaming of the same rainbow unicorn so many of us do.
I wish them luck.