“I’m taking the kids to Disneyland and I’m inviting my boyfriend and my ex-husband. What’s the big deal?”
Even as I said it to my friends, I had to ignore the uncertainty in the pit of my stomach.
I’ve written before about enjoying family vacations with my ex, but this trip, I wanted to invite my boyfriend as well. I’ve known other divorced couples who vacation regularly with their exes and their current spouses, proving that a divorce does not need to break up a home, but can provide a way to remodel it. Their stories gave me hope my divorce will not split up my family, but rather, add to it.
It had been two decades since my boyfriend had visited the happiest place on earth and, I hoped, the magic of Disneyland would help to ease any discomfort between him and my ex — who is a Disney fanatic and was heartbroken at the idea of me taking the kids without him.
Still, I was apprehensive approaching my boyfriend with the idea. He was initially hesitant, but after some discussion, agreed to a game plan: We would divide our time with the kids, the two of us spending each morning with them while my ex took them in the afternoons and evenings. This would allow the adults kid-free time to ride the rides that Joseph and Elizabeth are still a little too young to ride.
The first morning dawned clear and sunny. We walked to the park with two children bouncing at our sides. They knew they’d be seeing Daddy at some point that afternoon and were more than happy to be spending the morning with us, but I could tell my boyfriend was still uncertain how the day would progress. I decided the best way to ease his fears was to let the day play out. I was gambling on a smooth trip all while knowing family vacations never go as smoothly as we want.
Sometimes, though, the Vacation Fates are in our favor. We went on all of our favorite rides, ate churros, and watched a performance. There were a moment of awkwardness when my son informed my boyfriend he wanted to ride a particular ride with his dad, but it passed when they went on another ride.
After lunch, we met up with my ex who relayed information on new single rider rides and tips on line times. I kissed the kids goodbye and waved them on their way. I have to admit, I felt a pang of sadness as I watched them leave — after all, I’m used to vacationing with my kids, rather than without. By the time we sat down for a nice Italian dinner, complete with pana cotta and delicious wine, that pang had disappeared completely.
We ran into the kids once, their voices calling to us from across a courtyard. They were having an amazing time and, honestly, so were the adults in spite of the awkwardness apparent while we all stood and watched Elizabeth dancing with Phineas and Ferb during a performance. Will we do it again? I know I’m game. I know my ex is game. And I know my boyfriend is tentatively open to the idea. The question is, can we do it without Disney magic?