You ever have one of those really horrific days, when everything seems to be going wrong and your kid isn't cooperating and you're running late and you don't look (or mort importantly feel) particularly attractive? Yeah, that's what my day looked like when I was forced to survive bumping into the ex that broke my heart, with my kid in tow. Like any person who has ever been romantically slighted, I had envisioned our first "run-in" to be very, very different. Then, after I met my now-partner and had our son, I didn't think about running into my ex at all. Of course, the moment you stop thinking about something (or someone) is the moment that something (or someone) ends up barging into your life.
So, there I was, exhausted and disheveled with my kid in my arms, face-to-face with the guy that broke my heart years prior. Thankfully, what I thought would be awkward and uncomfortable and somewhat difficult to get through, was painless and carefree and a reminder that, yes, things do happen for a reason (as annoying as that saying really and truly is). It also reminded me that while my son is very important to me and motherhood has changed me, my past still plays a pivotal role in who I am as a woman, a person, a friend, a lover and a mother. I'm sure people would be quick to say, "You're a mom now, so who cares?" Well, I did. I do. Some people get under your skin and stay there, and one day my son will hear about some of my past relationships and past heartbreaks because, of course, he will experience his own, too. I want to set a good example — no matter how old he is — when it comes to recovering from heartbreak and running into the people that contributed to it.
That day was also proof-positive that my son makes me a better person. I could have been immature and resentful and I could have been combative and rude, but my son gave me a million reasons not to be any of those things. From setting a good example to simply giving me some perspective to just realizing there are far too many, more important things to worry about; your kid might end up being the perfect person to have with you when you run into that one ex you never thought you'd be able to stand talking to again. So, with that in mind, if you find yourself with your kid in your arms and your ex in front of you, here are just a few ways to survive the entire situation, unscathed and thankful:
Ignore Them Entirely
Just because someone was once a big part of your life, doesn't mean they need to be part of the life you've cultivated for yourself and without them. If you really don't want to deal — especially if you have a crying newborn or a tantrum-throwing toddler with you — then, you know, don't. It's honestly that easy. After all, you have more important people to worry about (like your baby and yourself).
Pretend You've Suffered From Short Term Memory Loss
Maybe it's been a while since the two of you have broken up. Maybe it's only been a year or so. Either way, you can always feign some sort of dramatic memory loss and simply re-introduce yourself, and your child, as if you've never met this person before in your life. In all honesty, you two are probably completely different than the people you used to be when you dated.
Will it be a little awkward? Sure. However, I can only imagine the look on their face will be more than worth it.
Make Up A Family Emergency And Leave The Scene Immediately
I won't lie, this "in case of emergencies" dating technique works well for awkward run-ins, too. I've used it when face-to-face with ex-friends, awkward relatives and just uncomfortable individuals, so I'm sure it would work well for that one ex you really just don't want to speak with but don't necessarily want to completely ignore.
You can politely introduce said ex to your child, exchange a few surface-level pleasantries and then hightail it out of there in the name of some crisis that you, and only you, could possibly handle.
Ask Them About Themselves, And Only Themselves
If you don't want this ex to know what you've been up to in the however-many-years since you two split (besides the obvious procreation), simply ask them questions about themselves. For the most part, people love to go on and on about their own lives, so it won't be too difficult to divert the conversation and avoid talking about your personal life.
Of course, this might get tricky if your ex didn't know you up and had a child. Your baby or tiny toddler might be somewhat of a shock but, again, they'll probably get over their initial reaction if it means talking about the job they have or the house they bought or the promotion they're gunning for.
Talk About Yourself, And Just Yourself
Then again, if you've really been slighted by this particular ex — and I mean they really did a number on your heart and your psyche and probably your post-breakup bank account — you can take this chance run-in as an opportunity to talk about how great your life is and how much you love being a mother and whatever else you think they just "need" to know.
I'm not going to say this is shameless bragging, but this is definitely shameless bragging. Hey, we're human. Like Beyonce once said, "Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper." Nothing wrong with letting someone know that while you won't result to name-calling, you won't lie about the fact that you have the life you've always wanted. Without them.
"When They Go Low, You Go High"
When in doubt, just take the high road. No one knows what the relationship you two once shared was like, and now that they're no longer part of your life — a life that now involves a tiny mini-human that you are raising either with or without someone else — there's no need to go through the "who won" or "who lost" the break up game. Remember, there's a little one next to you and, if they're old enough to understand what may or may not be going on, they're learning from every interaction you have with other people. Your kid probably won't know why this particular person is "different," but they will see how mom reacts and decipher, for themselves, how others should be treated.
Plus, Michelle Obama has the answer to every question ever, so when in doubt just defer to her genius and grace.
Realize Your Kid Wouldn't Be In Your Life If They Weren't Your Ex...
When I ran into my ex, my baby wrapped up in my arms, I realized that if we hadn't have gone through that horrific, horrible break-up that I was convinced I'd never get over, I wouldn't be holding said baby so close to my chest, smelling the top of his perfect baby head and loving someone so completely. I had this wonderful, "Well, this is awesome," moment, when every good, bad, big and small thing that has ever happened to me, suddenly made sense.
Of course, I couldn't see it then and I was devastated when my ex and I ended our extremely unhealthy relationship. However, that devastation gave me the chance to meet the wonderful partner I now share my life with, and have the amazing son I get to raise as I watch him learn and grow and evolve and thrive. Hard to hold a bad breakup against anyone when the end result is something as fulfilling as parenthood.
...And Thank Them For No Longer Being Part Of Your Life
I sat down across from my ex and actually thanked him for doing what he did to end our relationship. Did I ever think that was possible? Nope. Do I think you necessarily have to do that with your ex when and/or if you run into them? Absolutely not. I don't know what the relationship you two once shared even remotely looks like.
However, kids have this amazing ability to put things into perspective, and all the anger and resentment I had towards my ex vanished the moment I realized ever crappy thing he ever did gave me the ability to meet my partner and have my son. Does that give people a pass to treat other people like sh*t? Nope, but it's nice to know that, even when things are particularly sh*tty, they can have a long-term, wonderful benefit.
Be An Adult, And Just Talk To Them Like You Would Another Other Person. Because, Yes, We're All Adults Now.
Relationships are tricky and they can be tumultuous, especially when they end in a rather unpleasant way. However, you're an adult now. You're a parent now. You have more important things to worry about and, honestly, you're dealing with more pain-in-the-ass things than running into an ex.
If you can handle potty training or late night feeding or surviving on little-to-no sleep for an extended period of time, you can deal with running into someone who broke your heart. That's child's play, dear reader, and you're in the damn big leagues now.
Yell, "Surprise! This Is Your Son/Daughter!"
I'm just kidding. Please don't ever, ever do this. Not OK. Not funny. Not appropriate. Just, like, no. Definitely not a way you're going to survive running into your ex when you have your baby with you.