Mother’s Day After Divorce with Michelle Dempsey Multack


The idea of Co parenting with someone who you’re divorcing is difficult to say the least, especially if the separation is contentious.

I mean, how do you communicate and have a relationship with someone you don’t like or even respect?

I was there, but I do Co parent well and on today’s episode of the Divorce Etcetera podcast, our guest and friend will help you find your way to be the best parent you can be and do right by your kids without sacrificing yourself.


We’re the ex experts TH and Jessica, and we help you navigate your divorce and successfully move on with your life.

So let’s bring in today’s guest who is an OG of Ex Experts, Michelle Dempsey, Multack Trauma Informed Co-Parent, Coach Mom’s Moving On author and program developer.


She is just like endless with her degrees and certifications so that she can share what she’s learning.

She gets like super excited about what she learns and then just wants more.

So welcome back to divorce, etc..

Thank you.


Thank you so much for having me.

That’s a nice intro.

Yes, I get very passionate, I’d say, about all the work that I do and and the time that I take to learn and better myself so I can better help my clients.

But it but it’s so important and and so many of us need another one of us to lead the way.


We need you to be the pioneer because we may not be at that place yet.

And so I know that when your audience finds you, they’re like, found somebody to hold my hand.

Thank you.

Thank you, I appreciate that.

But I also am very driven by the fact that, like, we change consistently throughout our lives as women, as mothers, as parents and and daughters and all sorts of things and and people.


Which also leads to the fact that the Co parenting relationship is consistently going to change and your kids are going to need different versions of you in every phase of their lives.

And so if I’m not keeping up, if I’m just deciding I’m an expert, ’cause I had kids, I’m an expert.


Just like many people say, oh, I got divorced, I’m an expert now I’m doing a disservice not only to myself but to my clients and my community.

So I am very driven by the concept of change and that’s why I continue educating myself and furthering my career.


It it’s important for us to learn and grow because you’re right, nothing stays the same if you just stay where you think you belong.

You’re missing out number one and you are not growing with your child, with your community, with your world.


I mean so many people just find themselves stuck.

So can you explain really what a trauma informed Co parent coach is?


So I first and foremost I became a certified divorce specialist in 2020 and then a year later became a certified Co parenting specialist.


All of this piggybacking off of my background in education.

I have a double masters in Elementary and Special Education, and I found that when I started working with divorce and clients, my passion was really in helping them help their children.


And there’s no wonder, because I was a special education teacher, I really enjoyed the process of the Individualized Education plan and helping people really work to the specific needs of the child.

Which is where I became just intent on doing this for divorcing parents.


I’m a child of divorce.

I didn’t have a good experience.

I had quite the opposite and it was because my mom did not know what she didn’t know.

There was no help out there.

So within that I took some training in Trauma and Resilience.


I did a cool online program through Florida State and you know, everything we experience in childhood affects us.

And unfortunately, if divorce isn’t done right, it will lead to the trauma your children are one day talking to their therapist about.


So I took that course to see how like it could all tie in.

I think so many people are going through their lives not realizing that their unresolved trauma governs their day-to-day decision making processes and how they show up after divorce, Steven, when those inner child wounds are not healed.


And so that’s I’m I’m fascinated by that stuff, which is why I’m now back in school studying marriage and family therapy, to better understand the generational cycles that persist.

I mean, I’m so glad that you’re doing all of this so I don’t have to, and then I can just learn.


From what you.

Do so.

Keep up the good work.

Keep up the good grades.

Thank you.

Thank you.

I mean, you could, you could pay into my tuition a bit if you want, if you want the real goods.


We should all do a GoFundMe for you because we’re all going to benefit from it, that’s for sure.


That’s funny.

So let’s talk about Co parenting in terms of being stuck, right.

So my intro was, how do you go?


Like you’re divorcing this person, man or woman, right?

Who’s who’s listening to this?

Whoever you’re divorcing, you’re divorcing for a reason.

So there’s a lot of emotions around it and one of the biggest mistakes that I’m sure many people make because we’re all human.


So if you make it, just be aware of it.

So maybe you don’t make those mistakes.

Again, is putting your emotions into your conversation and your relationship with your kids right as you’re going through your divorce.

So how do you give people hope who are coming from a super contentious or just like I I don’t even want to know him or her.


I don’t want to talk to him.

I know we have kids together, but like literally don’t want to know anything about them.

Why is that that?

That’s damaging because A it’s not an option and B even if it were, would that be helpful for your children?

You marry this person, you chose to make a child or children with them.


You have a responsibility there.

That’s not a job you can quit and just say changing my career path now that’s that’s not how it works when you’re a parent.

And so one of the first steps that we teach both when we train coaches and to Co parent, Co parents and clients is to modify your expectations, right.


So like I and I always see this, like they’ll clients will complain, like, Oh my God, I’m, I’m just going to file a motion because he’s always late when he comes to pick up the kids.

And I’m like, wait, whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down.

Is this a new thing?

Are they now just starting to be late?



He can never get his ass in gear.

He could never be on time.

This is so frustrating.

OK, so let’s go back to that.

Who’s at fault here?

Yes, it’s annoying that they’re late and they don’t run on time.

I come from a Latin background.

Nobody’s ever on time.

It sucks.


That’s why when I host a party at my house, my expectation is not for people to arrive on time.

I don’t turn the grill on until 30 minutes after I’ve invited people because I know they’re all going to show up late.

So if you know, if you take what you know about this person and apply it to Co parenting and don’t assume that they’re just going to change because now your relationship has changed, you’re going to save yourself a lot of pressure and you’re going to save a lot of conflict and you’re going to save yourself a lot of resentment.


And the second you can learn to modify your expectations and kind of work with the hand you’ve been dealt, OK, now we can move forward into a place of like detaching emotionally and focusing on the business of Co parenting.

And there’s no hope without that.


You’re asking how do you have hope?

But that’s really the first step.

But isn’t that also the hardest step?

Of course.

That’s why for years I’ve been talking about the legal divorce versus the emotional divorce.

I mean, anybody can go get married and sign a paper.


You got to work at that marriage.

Anybody can get divorced and sign that paper, You got to work at your divorce.

And you have to decide ultimately, you know, how can I separate myself from this emotionally, to be able to detach and just focus on the kids?

And that’s where we talk about healing.


That’s why you need therapy.

That’s why you need a coach or someone to help.

You kind of sift through all of it and decide, is this my cerebral cortex or is this my limbic system, ’cause they’re two totally different operating systems in your brain that people get very confused.


So what’s the best way?

Like what’s the best thing to do?

Easy steps to help you start doing that.

I’m all for therapy.

I know you’re all for therapy because all of our childhood wounds that we may never have identified as a childhood wound until now it’s in our face we have to deal with.


But other like the words, it’s not fair and you know, you just automatically assume well he or she is just a terrible parent because you just make all these assumptions and and accusations that may not even have a place there.


Right, right.

And and very often they don’t.

And you know, you, you have to give yourself a little grace if you are kind of in that mindset because you’ve been hurt and like maybe you didn’t sign up for this.

You didn’t sign up for a life with somebody TH only to find that your husband was having this affair that he was having like you, you did.


You did not, right?

But like, it’s also about deciding, OK, am I going to be a victim or a victor?

You can be a victim of poor behavior like you were and also decide I’m not going to live in that mindset.

Though this happened, it sucked.

I’m just I’m going to move forward and make the rest of it great and it really boils down to a choice and also the self-awareness to know two things you didn’t make the person do the thing they did to you and the thing they did to you can live in the space of duality.


I can eat 100 cookies later and also go to the gym because I’m a gym goddess right?

Like someone can cheat on you and also be a good parent because that cheating didn’t really have anything to do with their ability to raise their kids and probably came from unresolved stuff way back when.


And so many people challenge me and say, well, that’s making a poor decision and if they can’t make good decisions then how can they parent?

Hello, Really.

We make poor decisions every day, every single one of us.

So getting comfortable in the duality of a person can do something that hurts us and also still parents in a way that is good for our children.


Maybe not the way we want them to, but in a way that is good for their children.

And and just to piggyback on that, I see.

And I’m willing to now accept because I I didn’t want to hear about it.

But he’s a better dad.


He is a better dad that we are not married.

He was absent.

He was focused on all the wrong things and it’s just so much healthier for my kids, for me to be healthier.

But also, you know I can’t change him, right?


No one can change anybody.

People can only choose to grow and learn for themselves.

And if they don’t, this is what it is.

But he is definitely a better parent.

He would be shocked if he heard me say that in this.



‘Cause I’m not sure that I really compliment him ever.

But within this space, I will.

Because my kids deserve it.

My kids deserve the best form of each of us.

I compliment my ex so much because in the context of things, I mean we were absolutely a terrible pair.


Like we did not belong together.

We loved each other, we had the passion and we had the chemistry and we wanted it to work, but it was literally a square peg in a round hole.

It just couldn’t happen.

And I accepted that because I was already conditioned.


I mean, I had my parents divorced.

Like it wasn’t like this foreign thing, like, all right, I guess I’m getting divorced.

He was the opposite.

He comes from a long line of nobody ever got divorced.

And so his his anger in the beginning for our split I perceived as something else like, Oh well, he’s so hot headed.


How can he be around our kids or our kid that the two did not mix?

And he started showing up even better for Bella because he realized he had to do it on his own.

I was not there.

It was very rough the first couple of years because we were two.


We were in two different emotional spaces.

I was in the Let’s move on and Co parent well space and he was still in the What the fuck is happening space and why are you like OK so quickly you know.

Right, right.

And if you would have told me then that now, 7 ten years later, we’d be planning our winter trips together every year to include my husband and his partner, and we had a conversation this morning TH that was so wildly productive.


I can’t even believe that you’re able to do that anyway, and I was used to.

Yeah, no, but I was like literally laughing on the phone this morning.

He’s like, why are you laughing?

I’m like, listen to us.

We’re like grown-ups having a grown up conversation, but it’s like, you know why that happened?


Because the emotions have subsided.

And again, like the two parts of your brain, the one that controls the logic and the one that controls the emotions, they don’t work well together.

And so it sounds so counterproductive to like or impossible to not have emotion when dealing with this person who you were involved with so emotionally, but.


Have you ever said this?

Oh my God, look at this bag.

I’ve never even used it, but I spent.

So much money to take a quick pause.


Or I have to deal with my closet.

It’s a mess.

I really should consign some things, but I don’t have the time.

Or Oh my God, look at these old Gucci sunglasses.

They’re so out of style.


What am I going to do with them?

Easy call the real real.

You basically have a closet full of money waiting to be put into your pocket.

They come to you, they pick it up, they put it online, they sell it, you get paid.



Yes, it’s true.

And I can personally tell you that I have done this myself and recouped thousands of dollars from clothing that I’m not wearing, bags and shoes that I’m not using.

It’s definitely worth it.

If you’re interested in consigning with the real real, just click the link in our show notes or in our link in bio on Instagram or TikTok and fill out the form.


Make sure to add ex experts.

That’s EXEXPERTS next to your last name so they know the ex experts sent you.

I promise it’ll be worth it.

When Jessica and I were getting a divorce from our exes, we hoped and prayed someone would take us by the hand and make sure we didn’t make any mistakes with our kids.


Dealing with our ex, with friends, dating, you name it.

So you’re in luck.

We created a divorce rule book.

We share what we wish we knew back then so you don’t make the same mistakes we did.

If you want your copy, just go to


It’s right there for you.

You don’t know what you don’t know, but the ex experts do.

OK, so I like huge kudos to you.

I mean, I don’t.

I’m never going to be doing that, and I’m OK with it.

Jessica breaks bread with her ex.


They celebrate holidays, her birthday.

He comes on Mother’s Day, shows up on Mother’s Day to celebrate her.

But that’s not a relationship that I’m ever going to have with my ex.

Nor, nor do you need to in order to be to consider yourself a good parent.


And I tell a Co parent, I tell people that all the time.

Good Co parenting is not getting on a flight together to go skiing.

No, it’s respecting each other’s role as a parent in your child’s life.

It’s nothing more than that.

If you want to do all the other bells and whistles, good for you.


If you never get there, also good for you.

It’s it’s not, it’s not what you need to be in order to be good for your kids.

And I’m really glad that you said that, because there are so many times that Jessica said.

You know, I chose to love my kids more than hate my ex.

And she had a very amicable divorce, you know, in a hot minute over at the dining room table, over a box of Kleenex.


Mine, you know, was four years of ridiculousness.

And I said, you know what?

I also chose to love my kids more than hate my ex.

I just handle it differently.

We handle business.

We have an agenda.


We I set expectations before we go to graduation.

Who’s paying for dinner this night?

Who’s paying for dinner that night?

Because I’ve learned to now protect myself.

I don’t want to be embarrassed at the dinner table where he tries to be whatever he’s trying to be and being like, hey, you’re you’re paying for this, you know, and embarrass me.


So I have learned along the way how to communicate with him so that I can continue to show up to be the best mom.

So if you are in a relationship with someone difficult like my ex, my one of my rules in the rule book is that if you can’t communicate then handle it like a business relationship.


And as you continue as the years progress, maybe it will be less business Y but at the very beginning to set up, set up boundaries and be very clear on what you have to say because you’re learning how to speak up to this person whether it’s about the kids or anything.


So in order to have a good Co parenting relationship, you have to know how to communicate with someone who maybe you’ve never really effectively communicated with before.


So let’s talk about something fun like Mother’s Day.



So do you remember Mother’s Day when you are unhappily married?

Yeah, I do actually very, very well.

I remember the dress I was wearing the morning.

I was more disappointed than I had ever been in my life and how it felt and that feeling in my chest of like, this is not how I want to feel in a marriage on Mother’s Day.


It was my first Mother’s Day I want to say.

And it was a fuckery shit show of the day.

And yeah, yeah, I got to say.

And that’s why I like and I I share this all the time on social media, like your worth as a mother doesn’t come from a spouse buying you flowers and acknowledging the day.


Like, look at those babies.

Look at the smile that they have when they see you walk into a room.

Like that’s Mother’s Day.

And it’s advice I wish I had back then, because I remember just feeling like a piece of I don’t know nothing, nothing worthy.


Because you weren’t appreciated and you weren’t all the things.

I know exactly how you feel.

Like I wasn’t worth his time and I wasn’t worth his effort.

And I’m, you know working and home with the kids and he’s doing whatever he’s doing and like there’s no thank you or anything.


And and I I remember feeling really badly.


And so I really, you know, I make it a point to tell people like, OK, so you’re not getting the flowers from a spouse in recognition of Mother’s Day.

But when you did, didn’t you feel like you had to even, like, ask for it?

And didn’t they feel like a second thought or like he stopped at the gas station on the way home?


What is that?

What is that versus feeling appreciated and loved every day?

Or not being with somebody because they can’t make you feel that way?


And what about the whole idea?

Well, if you know, what about the idea of him helping your helping Bella get you a gift?


I think that is always the right thing to do.

But I recognize, you know, that that’s not always going to be the case.

And in the beginning, I don’t know.

I don’t know that he was doing that.

He does now.

I always did that.





So you did it regardless of what he did.


Oh, for sure.


I mean, I don’t play that game.

I’m going to do the right thing, whether the other person’s doing it or not.

And I think, again, that’s good Co parenting.

But eventually he came around.

And now it’s like there was a point where I would have to even worry if like, so like, it’s his weekend this weekend for Mother’s Day.


And there was a point where if it was his weekend on Mother’s Day, I would have to fight to have her the night before because her parenting plan didn’t specify that so that I could wake up with her.

You know, I’d.

And then I’d wait on pins and needles to see what he would say.

And that’s what our phone call was about this morning.

He’s like, so I I imagine you want her sleeping over Saturday night, right.


And I’m like, yeah, yeah, you know, But yeah, no, he’ll take her to get a card or I think last year they got me an orchid.

And and she’s also more vocal now, too.

Like, hey Sir, take me to buy Mommy a present.

Right, right, right.

That the age, the age that your children are at makes a very big difference and you can always count on the school also to, like, help your kid in their preschool.


You’re something’s bound to happen.

But I started the tradition when we separated that we always went on a hike.

What I love to do is hike.

I’m not going to like completely make my kids miserable, but they don’t love to hike.

So we used to pack a ton of snacks and the dog and whatever you guys want.


But I want to hike.

And I said I don’t really want anything.

I just really want you to show up.

That’s really, that’s that’s my gift.

And so then, do you remember your first Mother’s Day after your separation?

I do, I do.


And it was so soon after we separated and it was before things got kind of ugly.

And he did.

I’ll never forget he I had already met my now husband, and I hadn’t told my ex yet, ’cause I didn’t know how to bring that up, ’cause I knew once I did, things were going to change.


They were going to go from bad to terrible.

And and that morning of Mother’s Day, he had, Bella had slept at his place the night before.

And that morning I went to pick her up and he walked outside with her.

She was two.

And she had flowers and a card.

And I was like, oh, my heart, you know, And it kind of took me it, it took me back first.


I was like, am I doing the right thing?

Like it was just such a something I didn’t expect.

But but that ended for a couple years.

And then, you know, the circle turned around.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And Suna, how are you celebrating Mother’s Day this year?


So my greatest joy in life is to host and feed people.

So I am celebrating by doing what I do every weekend and having my family over and cooking and feeding and hanging out.

I’m going to have the house beautifully decorated.

I use this great local company down here that for all my events and just, you know, bought all the women in my family cute pajamas.


And Bella Will go above and beyond with my husband to to make it nice.

And I’ll get to celebrate with my stepdaughter a little earlier in the weekend before she’s with her mom.

And you know, it’s really just for me, like it.

It’s about being able to do what I love most and that’s be with my people.


So, side note, Michelle’s a total foodie.

She went to Italy.

She’s buying all the little ingredients and spices and everything and telling us what we need to make.

And again, I’m just going to follow her lead and let her cook for me because I do not cook.

What’s amazing is I went to Sicily.


I am half Sicilian and the food was obviously phenomenal and I ate my way through Sicily, didn’t gain a pound.

It’s different.



Then I came back, chapter.

And then I was like, you know, Mama Della in the kitchen, like going to the Italian food markets and making all this food and importing shit.


And then 20 lbs later I’m like, oh, so you can’t eat here?

Like you can eat in Sicily.

I was like, hold on, that that was a rude awakening.

But yes, I do.

I just love, I don’t know, you know, when my kids have friends here and I’m feeding them or my husband comes home and he knows there’s a chicken cutlet with his name on it.


Like it just brings me so much joy.

So that’s, I think, honestly, the number one take away from this conversation today is to make chicken cutlets.

Make chicken cutlets because they bring you joy.

Find the thing that brings you joy.


That’s what you share with the people that you love.

What brings me joy is hiking.

And you know, I I don’t know what else, definitely not cooking, but I would show up at your house and eat at your house.

And if that brings you joy, I will eat the chicken cutlet.

But find the thing that brings you joy because that will help you through this process and it can be the smallest thing.


I find myself out outside all the time for walks or whatever.

I’m taking pictures of flowers in the stream and the nature for me really fills me up.

I just, I literally will stop and smell the flowers and take a picture of the flower and then put the picture on my digital frame so that I am surrounded by that joy all the time.


All the time.

Yeah, a.

Big A big thing that I talked about in my book is how how much we take for granted.

Like the parts of ourselves we sometimes shut down in marriages.

And not, maybe not necessarily because we’re being forced to, but maybe we feel there’s no space for that thing we love anymore because we’d rather show up for our kids or our spouse.


And I started to recognize this pattern years ago, working with clients.

Every single one that I would work with would say, you know what?

I started painting again.

I used to love to paint, and my husband said we had no room in the house for my studio.

And you know what?

He’s gone.

So I put that studio right back up.


Or the person who didn’t make time to go to the gym because they felt guilty.

You know, not taking the kids to carpool in the morning, finding that thing and getting back to it is such like an empowering, therapeutic thing.

I can’t.

You can’t put a price on it.

No, at a hundred 100%.


So we’ve talked about this before, but that first episode we did with you was quite a while ago.

So what’s the one thing you wish you knew that you want to share with everybody?

You share a lot of very valuable advice every day.


But the one thing, What would it be?

That your marriage is not supposed to solve your problems.

Your marriage is not supposed to fix you, and what didn’t work in the marriage is certainly not going to be fixed in Co parenting.


I know that’s like three things, but.

No, it’s awesome, though.

It’s it’s really, really awesome.

It’s true.

I mean, I feel I’ve learned so much about myself, about my kids.

I’m awake.

I’m awake and aware.


And when you are, then you can take things in and you can see opportunities that may have been there, but you weren’t ready for them.

You you couldn’t jump in in the same way, you couldn’t show up in the same way.

And as soon as you also really find that joy, your kids see that, and you’ll be lighter and brighter and they’ll be like, what’s going on today?


You know what’s happening.

You’re you’re shining now.

So for Mother’s Day, I want to wish you all a shining day.

And listen, in my mind, every day is Mother’s Day.

So every day you need to find the joy you need to feed, feed people chicken cutlets on a regular basis, not just once a year.


And doing for you is not selfish.

You’re actually helping everybody when you do for yourself.

That’s right.

So if you enjoyed this episode of divorce, etcetera with the ex experts today, please help 2 girls out.

It only takes a minute to subscribe, rate, and review our podcast and it actually really helps us and other people like you who are dealing with divorce.

For more about Michelle and her programs for book moms moving on, and everything else she does, seriously follow her on Instagram and check out the show notes.


And of course, share this episode with anyone you know who can benefit from listening.

Have a great day.

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