Getting divorced is hard in a lot of ways that they don't mention in the brochure.
There's the fact that the person who used to be the centre of your universe is now telling you that you what a terrible person you are, often via their legal representative. There's the incredible financial cost of starting a new life.
And of course there is the division of just about everything you've ever owned.
But one division I didn't see coming was the division of our parent friends. Not our close friends — that was all pretty clear-cut — but those couples we know through our kids and socialised with on a casual basis, without ever knowing too well.
My ex-husband and I had met plenty of parents through our kids' friends at school and in their weekend sports as well. Some we'd known for a long time, and we'd had them around for barbecues and pizza nights as our kids played together.
But what happens to that dynamic when a couple separates?
My ex did a better job of cultivating those friendships after our split, while I leaned more on my close friends and family. Those friendships just didn't seem like a priority at the time, I have to admit. I didn't really give it much thought at first, because my mind was focused on more immediate concerns like making rent.
But once the dust settled and I was back to being able to breathe again, I looked around and realised that my ex had been socialising with all of those parent friends we'd known before. Which was fair enough, he had just as much right as I did to hang out with those friends, but it got me thinking…or overthinking.
Photo: Carolyn Tate
My paranoia quickly kicked in. How much did he talk about our separation? Had he said terrible things about me? What did they now think of me?
All of this went through my brain while I was chatting with one dad at the school gate as we waited for our sons, who have been best friends for five years, to come out.
Things were awkward, and now, nearly four years after my ex and I separated, I'm definitely on the outer with those friends. My ex, on the other hand, has now grown close to various school parent friends, joining them on camping trips, meeting in parks on the weekends, and having them around for big joint family dinners.
And it's fine, really. I have plenty of other friends — even friends with kids the same age as mine — and we all socialise together and go on family holidays. But I'll never again be close with those school families. My ex has staked his claim and I was too slow.
Maybe my ex has never talked about me with them, and maybe they'd be just as happy to socialise with me as they would with him, but I feel uncomfortable putting them in a position where they might feel like they have to choose. And I can't help but wonder what they've been told, or what conclusions they've drawn.
It's too many maybes for me, and I don't think I could ever relax. So I let those friendships go, and chalk it up to experience. Our kids still play together and that's all that matters.