When Your Friend Has A Past...With Your Husband

by Kathryn Leehane
Originally Published: 

Making friends as an adult is hard. So when we moved to California, I worried not only about my kids making new friends, but about myself making some as well. Actually, I worried more for myself.

Fortunately schools are full of potential new friends for everyone. While waiting outside of my daughter’s classroom for pickup one day, I met a really nice woman. Outgoing and friendly, she asked about my daughter’s backpack, and we talked about all of our kids. We even discovered our girls were at the same dance school. She seemed so easygoing and genuine. I liked her immediately.

Every day at pickup, she and I would chat, even though I could never remember her name. (People should really wear name badges—it would make things so much easier for me.) We always waved to each other across campus. I was excited to have met a new friend.

Then came some rather shocking news. After the Grandparents’ Day celebration at school, my mom called me up:

Mom: Do you know who Jennifer Thomas is?

Me: Yeah, that’s my husband’s ex-girlfriend.

Mom: Well, apparently your kids are at the same school.

Me: What? No way. That’s impossible. She didn’t grow up here.

Mom: And apparently you know each other.

Me: Whaaaaat? Not possible. I think I’d know if I knew his ex.

Mom: No, it’s possible and true. Your mother-in-law ran into Jennifer today during the Grandparents’ Day reception. Both of them were pretty shocked to see each other. Your mother-in-law pulled out a picture of you and the kids, and Jennifer said that she knows you.


Mom: Yeah, apparently your girls go to the same dance school?


Mom: And you talked about backpacks?

Me: That’s Jennifer Thomas?!

Mom: Yep.

Me: Oh wow. I gotta call my husband.

I called him right away, but apparently my mother-in-law had scooped me. He already knew. Disappointed at not being able to deliver shocking news to him, I turned to social media (naturally) and posted this status update on Facebook:

“Interesting Development of the Week: Turns out one of the moms that I’m friendly with at the kids’ school was my husband’s first girlfriend.”

I got a lot of “likes” on that one—and some pleas for more information. Were they hoping for drama? Maybe some bitch-slaps? Or were they really just wanting to know what “first” girlfriend actually meant? It didn’t matter. It was a fun story to tell.

Quite honestly, I tell this story a lot. Because it’s one of those funny twists in life. It also gets some interesting responses from folks. Some people can’t believe I’m friends with Jennifer. Some think it would be really awkward. Some love that we’re friends.

One friend in particular, upon hearing the story, asked the really important question: “All I want to know is—when you went to pick up your kids that day you found out—did you look good?”

Fine. I admit it. I absolutely changed into a nicer outfit and fixed my hair and makeup before picking my daughter up that day.

But, honestly, it wasn’t awkward. And neither of us treated each other any differently. Jennifer is a really nice person, and we both genuinely like each other. We even decided to get the families together and let the kids play. And we regularly go out to coffee and lunch. She is fun and sweet and thoughtful—I can see all of the great qualities my husband saw in her.

Speaking of my husband, Jennifer and I don’t talk about him at all—except the one time she brought a bunch of awesome high school pictures of him (ones that he seems to have “lost” over the years). We talk about our kids, school, life and regular stuff that friends talk about. I’m glad to know her, and I’m better off for her friendship.

And—come on—clearly she has excellent taste in men.

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