Tomorrow, Valentines Day, 2012, would have been my 12th anniversary. The 12th anniversary of my wedding to Simon Young. Simon – the man with whom I thought I would grow old, spend the rest of my life, you know, that sort of thing. Our wedding license reflects that Simon A. Young and Anne P. Mitchell were married on Valentines Day of 2000, in San Jose, California; a great date by any measure.

It was Simon’s idea to get married on Valentines Day, which is funny when you consider that our first year together Simon tried to convince me that they don’t observe Valentines Day in England (Simon is British). Our divorce decree states that Anne P. Mitchell Young and Simon Adrian Young were divorced on March 23rd of 2011 in Boulder, Colorado. Neither hints at what would or did come to pass in the intervening years.

I remember with a mixture of fondness and sadness anniversaries past. Our paper anniversary when I gave him a first-edition Byron. Our ‘fruit or flowers’ anniversary when he gave me an Apple Mac. Our copper anniversary when we went to Copperopolis.

I sometimes wonder how different my life would be, if I had known then what I know now. Here’s what I know for sure: I wouldn’t trade the wonderful son who has been entrusted to my care for anything, not even to have been spared the heartache of the past few years.

Now, if you are reading this hoping to get the dirt, well, you’re going to be disappointed. First, I have no desire to do a character assassination on him. Oh sure, my friends who know what went down think that I should publicly rip him a new one – or two – but I remind them, as I remind you, that above all, he is our son’s father, and I will always respect that first and foremost. What kind of fathers’ rights lawyer would I be otherwise?

In fact, he still spends nearly every weekend – and sometimes one week a month – in my home, and yes, we co-parent our son on those weekends, as amicably as you please.

My friends who know tell me that I’m crazy for letting him back in my home, how they would “screw their husbands to the wall and wouldn’t be in the same town, let alone in the same house, if their husbands had done that.”

I tell them that I hope for their sake they never go through what I went through, but that, even more, I hope for their childrens’ sake they never do, because when you have children you have to rise above “what was done to me” and find a way to respectfully and cooperatively co-parent for the sake of your children. Your children need you to do that. Your children need both parents no matter what you feel about your ex-spouse personally.

And so Simon and I acknowledge that while he and I are no longer a couple, he and our son and I are still a family. Our son deserves that.

Divorce – yer doin’ it right.

All of this, however, makes this first post-divorce anniversary very bitter-sweet. Bitter because of what the marriage put me through and, above all, for promises broken, potential unfulfilled, and dreams derailed. For a future that looks nothing like what I believed our future would hold, to which I had looked forward with anticipation and joy, replaced by a history on which I look back with pain and disbelief.

But there is the sweet, too. Our son is an awesome young man, who has a good, level, and clear-thinking head on his shoulders, despite what the last few years have visited upon those young shoulders. He sees things clearly for what they are, and he is open and able to talk about what has happened, which is a gift beyond measure, as well I know how it could have otherwise been.

And we live in the most awesome and, with apologies to Disney, the happiest place on Earth.

And we have good, wise, supportive friends here.

All of this is sweet, and makes me so grateful.

As in, if it had to happen, I’m so glad that it happened here, and now.

And that means that the answer to my pondering looks something like this: if I had known earlier what I know now, it would have been much harder, both for myself, and for our son.

So given both the things which are out of my control, and the things which are within my control, it seems that I am exactly where I should be right now, both for myself, and for my son.

And that is very sweet.

Which brings us to this moment. Tomorrow. Valentines Day. My first as an unmarried woman. The twelfth anniversary of my now-defunct marriage.

How to observe it?

I have already stated elsewhere, and to my friends, that I intend to reclaim Valentines Day, to make it fun and sweet, instead of letting it be perverted into a painful reminder of the past.

So it looks like my son and I are going shopping, and then to dinner and a movie, together.

“Mom,” he said, “we were both hurt by the divorce, but in different ways, and it was your marriage, and your anniversary, so you pick the movie.”

I have the best son in the world.

Now that’s sweet.

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