That's how long our conversation lasted.
It started with me offering up common ground. "It seems we got off on the wrong foot, and I'd like to try to fix that. We actually have a lot in common: we both knit and sew and read the same kinds of books. We have the same political leanings, have the same values and interests and I think we could be friends."
...she stares at me with her usual pinched look, saying nothing. So I continue.
"I know that our....tenuous relationship causes Eric stress, and he feels caught in the middle. It's not fair for him to be in that situation, and it's not productive to the relationship that you have with Anna, either."
Again, she stares at me, silent.
I go on to say that I think she has so much to offer Anna (ok, I was being generous there), saying "You are a smart, strong woman, passionate about what you do and you could be a really positive role model for Anna."
Her first words of the night: "Well, first of all, I disagree with many of the things you just said."
I swallow and regroup; this is not off to a good start. I try another angle and I ask her what her concerns are.
She said that Anna doesn't respect her a parent, and I said "Ok, well, I think that right now you are outside the loop, by choice. Eric and David and I present a united-front; we have created this really healthy and positive model of parenting-after-divorce, and you have avoided participating in that. Therefore Anna sees you as an outsider."
She said "I don't want to be a part of what you've created. That's not the only choice here."
I said "Of course it's not the only choice, but Eric and I brought a child into the world, and it's our life-time responsibility to raise her in the way that works best for all of us. We communicate about everything, we make big decisions together and most importantly, Anna knows she is being raised by people working together for her benefit. We will always parent this way, because it works and because when Eric and I divorced, we agreed that this is what we wanted it to look like."
"But not every divorce looks like that."
"Well, it's what every divorce should look like when there are children involved," I say.
"That's YOUR opinion."
At this point I think there might have been steam coming out of my ears, but I remained completely calm and said "But J., it's working for everyone else but you. And it's not going to change, because it is working and we are all very proud of the situation we have created. I'm not going anywhere and Anna isn't going anywhere. You happen to be dating a man with an ex-wife and a child, and really, you should be thrilled that he is the kind of man that he is, who adores his daughter and maintains a healthy, cooperative co-parenting relationship with his ex-wife. "
"Well then, maybe I have a choice to make".
"Yes," I said, looking her right in the eye, "Perhaps you do."
"Well," she huffed, scooting her chair back to leave, "It's obvious you didn't come here to accommodate me."
Oh yes. She did.
So, I tried.
And the thing is, you know how when you have these big, important conversations with people and later you think of a million things you wish you had said? Well, amazingly enough, I said every single thing I wanted and needed to say, and better yet, I didn't say a single thing I regret. I stayed completely (and uncharacteristically) calm and level-headed and gracious the entire time, even when she was completely unreasonable.
Now. Does anyone know where I can find a voodoo doll?