• Heather Tannenbaum

We Must Create our own "Happily Ever After"

This piece originally appeared on www.thenewfamily.com. I was asked to submit my story...my divorce story. While we all have our own unique story, I suppose that in many ways, our stories share many similarities. I post an edited version of my story here for my readers to enjoy. Feel free to check out the 1000 Families Project on www.thenewfamily.com for the original and full version, along with some pictures.


I suppose my “happily ever after” story begins when I got married in December 1998. I was 25. He was 30. I was young, eager and full of life, more than ready to conquer the world and eventually Momhood. I was excited to begin my “happily ever after”. Our first child, our daughter, came along 5 years later and her little brother, 28 months after she.

I had the perfect family. I was now a stay-at-home mommy. I was married to a prominent Divorce Lawyer, I had a nanny, I volunteered at school and within our community. We had friends and family, and my life was as perfect as I could have imagined it would be. Except for one thing…this wasn’t my “happily ever after”.

And so, after a long period of trying to find happiness together, my husband and I decided to divorce. Sometimes you have to tear something down in order to build something greater, but at the time of destruction, it’s difficult to see past the debris and mess immediately surrounding you.

I am often asked, “What’s it like to divorce a Divorce Lawyer?”. When we first separated, I didn’t think about the fact that I was divorcing a Divorce Lawyer. I couldn’t think past the fact that I felt like a huge failure. I had failed at marriage, and I was terrified that I was also failing my children, those beautiful, innocent sweethearts for whom I had given up my career and to whom I had dedicated my life. I was in shock, I was scared of the unknown, I worried about how our kids would adjust; whether they could adjust. In those early divorce days, my emotions were limited and ranged only between sad, scared and guilty. This certainly wasn’t my “happily ever after” but what I hadn’t realized at the time, is that it was an important step in the process.

We opted for me to remain in the only home our children had ever known, and he would move to a home close by. We felt that it would be easier on the kids to have one neighbourhood to call “home”. We worked together to minimize the amount of change our children would have to face. I helped my ex husband find a new home and I even took my kids shopping to help them decorate their new rooms at Dad’s house. While I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of them having a home that wasn’t with me, I was able to mask my sadness and reluctance with excitement so that my kids would too be excited.

A few short years after my ex's move to his own place, he and his fiancee purchased a new home on my street. While our co-parenting relationship was far less amicable at this point than it was in the early days, I embraced this move because I felt that it would be easier for the kids, and they seemed pretty excited about the move.

Our co-parenting relationship is currently rocky, but one important constant is our unconditional love for our children and my ability to overlook the current situation with my ex husband and always put my kids’ interests first. I value the fact that we can jointly attend school meetings and co-parent effectively when it comes to our kids' education and important parenting decisions. I remain hopeful that one day we will once again find a healthy co-parenting relationship.

As single parents, we always try to keep our focus on the long term goals which are to raise happy, healthy, well adjusted and resilient children.

Write your own Happily Ever After

Through all the ugliness that divorce can be and often is, the beauty is that we’re given this tremendous gift; an opportunity to build our own happiness to be whatever we want it to look like. “Happily ever after” isn’t something that we find; it’s something that we create for ourselves.

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