We would’ve been married for 18 years the day this picture was taken.

I can’t remember the last time I did the math. We’ve been divorced longer than we were married.

No bride or groom walks down the aisle thinking they’ll end up in the greater-than-50%-of-us who get divorced.

(well…maybe some odd celebrity getting hitched as a publicity stunt does, but that’s not you)

I used to carry a great deal of shameabout the divorce.

We live in the heart of the Midwest.  

Divorce around here comes with a stigma.

I didn’t like being the mom at the bus stop who had to explain why her kiddo only caught the bus on Mondays/Tuesdays or explain why I didn’t have my kid on Christmas morning.

It’s taken a while for me to feel comfortable explaining to people how my family works because we aren’t the “norm”.

(as though there is such a thing)

You see, my ex-husband and I don’t fight or speak ill of one another.  As parents of a beautiful girl, we talk and routinely check in with each other.  We’re comfortable in a room together.

We walked away from the marriage, not from each other.

We share the kids… all of them…his and ours.

His kids come over to my house to play, spend the night, and go to fun places.   The oldest came with us on our family vacation this year.

We are family.

If you had told me 18 years ago, that I’d wake up on my “anniversary” with three kids snuggled deep in one bed (one ours, and two his) in the home I share with my “new” husband, I would’ve called you a liar. 

But it’s true and it’s beautiful.

I’m sharing this with you because things often don’t work out at our job or personal lives as we’d predicted.

We get upset, frustrated, or sad over the loss of what was or what appeared to be.

We build barriers, walls and invisible armor to protect ourselves.

We walk away.

We miss out on what’s possible, what can be when we’re able to say goodbye to what was and decide to commit to what is.

These two wouldn’t be here if things had worked out with my ex and me.

I get to see the product of what happens when a group of people stays committed to each other through one of life’s most traumatic experiences. 

Three beautiful kids who make jokes and giggle around the table.  Snuggles before bed and snarfing big bowls of sugary cereal in the morning. Love multiplied, not divided.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Who do you need to commit to, not walk away from  today?