cat“What a f@$king idiot.”

That’s what I was thinking when I got off the phone yesterday with my ex-husband as I was driving back from the Mom 2.0 conference.

And 24 hours later, I regret my reaction. Well, mostly.

Last week, my son was sick. Extremely tired and with a swollen gland under his chin that was very tender. So, on Wednesday, I took him to the doctor. After a negative Mono spot test, they diagnosed him with a vague lymph node infection, gave him some antibiotics and sent him on his way.

By Friday morning, when I was waking up in my really comfy bed at the Ritz-Carlton on Key Biscayne with a headache from bad white wine, he was much worse. The swelling had spread to the other side of his jaw.

Of course, in my head, I went to the worst thought. He has some sort of lymphoma. He’s going to be admitted to the hospital. And I’ll be leaving Mom 2.0 without ever having gone to the Versace Mansion.

His father took him back to the doctor that afternoon. A different doctor than previously. One who was an excellent diagnostician. She figured out that the nip from a cat the week before, a bite that barely broke the skin, was giving him these problems.

He had Cat scratch fever. Yes, there really is such a thing. It’s not just a 1977 song by Ted Nugent. The doctor put him on a different antibiotic. One specifically for fighting the Bartonella bacteria that some cats can carry in their saliva.

And the weekend began.

The kid had a baseball game Saturday morning. Playoffs. Then an invitation to his friend’s house for an afternoon of basketball and horsing around. And even though I knew that was going to happen, I was still a little wary of all the activity. If he had been with me, he would have spent the afternoon on the couch, convalescing while alternating napping with playing X-Box.

But it was here, after the game and the friend’s house, that I thought my ex-husband made a poor choice. Which is an understatement. Our son spent the night at another kid’s house for a birthday party. Staying up until 12:30, sleeping on the floor and not getting a full night’s sleep. The day after he was diagnosed with an infection. An infection that cries out for your body to rest so it can heal itself.

I was livid when I found that out. Pissed. And the wonderful memories of my weekend at the conference? Gone. Supplanted by all sorts of cursing going on in my head. But it was after the fact so there was nothing I could do.

By this morning, after a night of tossing and turning and thinking, I had calmed down. The kid slept at my house last night, went to bed early and seemed okay when he left for school.

I figured out that part of my anger stemmed from feeling so powerless. Not being able to intervene on my son’s behalf, though, at 15, he is old enough to speak up for himself. But my ex doesn’t have to ask my permission when he makes these kinds of decisions for our children. It was his weekend.

It’s just that being divorced gives you so much less control over what happens with your kids. And it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been divorced. If you have children together, one of the continuing side effects of divorce is dealing with each other’s differences in parenting.

And boy, do we have some differences. To name a few? Discipline, dating, cooking and even the frequency with which we wash our bath towels. All different.

So even after being divorced for almost ten years, I still struggle with our differences. And struggle to be less judgmental about my ex-husband’s parenting choices. The key word is less. But the judgement is still there. And the frustration. And, sometimes, the anger.

But if I step back and look at his parenting big picture? All in all, he takes good care of them. They’re fed, their clothes are clean and most importantly, he spends time with them. And what I decided in the middle of the night while I was listening to my husband snore? That I should use my energy in a different way. A more positive way. Because no matter what, I can’t control what goes on at his house.

Besides, I’m not a perfect parent. I’ve made some poor choices before. It’s just that he doesn’t know about them.

Image via kevin dooley/Flickr