Broken heartI missed my almost mother-in-law’s birthday last week. You know how you get the feeling like there’s something about a particular date you should be remembering, like it has some sort of significance but you just can’t dial up exactly what it is in your memory? Turns out, that’s what it was. I was kicking myself all over my own rump for forgetting it.

Because she’s my ex-boyfriend’s mama, some folks might wonder what the big deal is. She’s just the woman responsible for birthing my used-to-be. That’s only partially true. For some reason, I have a personal habit of maintaining better relationships with the mothers of my boyfriends than I do with the actual guys.

Even though me and their sons weren’t able to make it last forever, me and their mamas stay in touch, talk on the phone, even hang out — much to the chagrin of the dudes who brought us together in the first place.  

Depending on how close you were to your one-time man’s circle of loved ones, the crash and burned relationship could be like going through two, three, four breakups instead of just the one. I mean, you spend X number of years with a person, getting to know not only them and their quirks and irks, but meeting and bonding with their family, their friends, their fraternity brothers, their co-workers, even their doggone barber. You’re immersed into his life, which means developing connections with the people around him.

It’s generally important to guys that the people they love, love their girlfriend too, especially if they’re really serious about her. So after facilitating all of that unity, I don’t think it’s a fair expectation to abruptly sever friendships with family and other loved ones when a couple parts ways.

When my daughter’s father and I called it quits (or, if you’re really keeping tabs, when he dumped my butt), I’d already developed friendships with a lot of his homeboys because we’d not only spent the last three years together, but some of us went to the same college, too. Of course their allegiance was with him — I wasn’t a fool to think that, if they were forced to pick sides, they wouldn’t leave me hanging, albeit apologetically.

But his mother and I were a different story. I think she saw a lot of herself in me: I was young, I was passionate and full of opinion, and I was a single mom like she’d been for the past 20-odd years. We were so close at one point, that I opted to call and talk to her about things going on in my life instead of my own mom. Nothing about the breakup changed that, and that made the ex man pretty darn angry. He wanted her to cut me off just like he did.

Ten years later, his mama’s digits are still in my speed dial, not out of spite, but because I am the gatekeeper to her granddaughter and, on top of that, we genuinely enjoy talking to one another.

If it was the other way around, I wouldn’t mind. My mom adores my last boyfriend, the one I was with for eight years who never worked up the ambition to ask me to marry him. He calls from time to time to check on her and she cheerily reports that they’ve talked — even though I’m almost positive she’s never held one conversation with my current boyfriend, much less a secret phone chit chat.

Maintaining a relationship with an ex’s people runs the risk of being awkward, especially when the breakup is fresh. No one wants to waltz into the safety and sanctity of their parent’s house and stumble on the dreaded ex sitting in the living room watching the game or shooting the breeze in the kitchen like nothing ever happened. Talk about cuing the Friday the 13th screeching murder scene music. That’s a nightmare.

Is it only right to cease and desist your relationship with an ex’s family after you break up?

 

Image via kelsey_lovefusionphoto/Flickr