"Wear my husband's first wife's clothes? Are you crazy? No $:@;&-ing way!" This would have most definitely been my knee-jerk response had I been asked this question five years ago. "No, I don't want your old dining room table. I don't want your old toys for the kids to use at my house, old bikes or old clothes. I don't want any of your old hand-me-downs (except, of course, your old husband.)
Fast-forward a few years, and my how things have changed. As our three kids move freely back and forth between our homes, we routinely find strange old swim suits or backpacks brought over from one house, or find a new pair of sneakers under a sofa we didn't purchase ourselves. I've long-ago dropped the defensive negative attitude and insecurities driving my irrational reasoning for not wanting anything from my husband's ex-wife, and have adopted a more laissez-faire way of interacting with the woman, who after all, is my childrens' mom. Instead of resenting and criticizing, we accept and cooperate. This approach has enabled us to build a healthy relationship focused on the well-being of our respective blended families.
So recently, when my husband's ex cheerfully dropped off a bag full of clothes to our house, this time earmarked for me instead of the kids, I had a different reaction. "There are a few cute dresses and some shirts that my friend didn't want anymore. They're not really my style, but I thought they'd look cute on you," she told me as she handed me the plastic supermarket bag loaded with someone else's clothes. I hesitated at first, but then thought, "Oh, what the heck?" as I rummaged through the bag full of discarded, barely-worn boutique clothes. Though most of the contents weren't my style either, there were a few items that would go nicely with my yoga-esque wardrobe! And so, I slipped a few things onto hangers, and then the rest went to Good Will.
The following week, I grabbed one of the shirts from my closet to wear to a parent-teacher conference. Sitting around the little table my husband's ex turned to me and exclaimed, "You're wearing my shirt!" Embarrassed, I realized that at least one of the items in the goodie bag she had dropped off the week must have also contained her clothes, as well as those from her friend. "Do you want it back?" I asked, genuinely thinking this had just been a mistake. But, she said that she doesn't wear it anymore and I should keep it. For the next hour, I sat in the parent-teacher conference sitting next to my husband's ex-wife, chatting away about our children, all the while wearing her old clothes. KMN.
I'm smiling as I write this post. I'm smiling because of the irony and I'm laughing because well, it's just plain funny at this point! The mish-mosh and intertwining of our lives, despite our best efforts to have nothing to do with each other, was both inevitable and necessary. As our kids grow up and the tweens borrow a shirt or sweater, isn't it just a matter of time before my sweater winds up in her laundry basket? And isn't it entirely possible that, thinking that that very sweater in her laundry basket belongs to her tween, she'll possibly slip it on herself? Of course. And so, the hand-me-downs go both ways.
My husband's ex and I actually have a lot in common... We share the same struggles with our teenagers, we enjoy similar hobbies and activities, we talk regularly about the kids and their futures. Why not share a shirt or two?
How would you respond to your spouse's ex offering you her used clothing? Would you wear her old clothes? Why or why not? Please share your comments and experiences!