11/03/2011 16:29 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

The Semi-Detached Parent: Happy Birthdays

birthdays It was my son's birthday last weekend.

For the first time since our separation, his dad and I sent him individual cards.

There was something quite heartbreaking about this, the realisation that never again would we jointly sign 'mummy and daddy.'

I have always found my little boy's birthdays an emotional time anyway, probably because he is an only child; it's not just a special day for him, it is a day full of very intense memories for me, and dealing with those memories in our current circumstances set off a whole whirlpool of feelings.

I always make a point of having a few minutes to myself at 3.15, the exact time of his birth, to think and reflect. Part of me can't believe where the time has gone; part of me wants to fast-forward, to transport us to a more settled stage in our lives, but a part of me also wants to rewind; to go back and re-write history. Or at least freeze frame bits of it.

Obviously my son has no idea of all the odd feelings I have tied up in his special day, he just has a wonderful time being thoroughly indulged and spoiled, as he should be. This year it fell on a Saturday, and he had two full days of treats and parties.

The best part for me – apart from seeing the obvious joy and delight illuminating his face throughout every second of the weekend – was the fact his dad and I made sure we did not have a cross word throughout. We worked together to ensure our son had a wonderful time. And he did. It's just a pity we can't work together to ensure that every day of the year.

But as we all sat together scoffing cake and drinking tea on the Sunday afternoon, his weekend of celebrations drawing to a close, I was suddenly overwhelmed with concern at the mixed messages our ceasefire might be sending; what was my little boy making of the calm, the casual chatter, the easy laughs and team-work he'd seen all weekend.

For the first time in years, he'd witnessed his parents making each other cups of tea and sharing jokes rather than trading insults and sniping. And it left me desperately hoping that in his innocent mind there was no false hope, no thoughts of reconciliation. And it also left me feeling slightly guilty about our 'good behaviour'. Because at least when we're rowing he knows where he stands.

Do you worry about what your children might read into your relationship with your ex-partner?
Do you find minimal, business like contact the best way?
Or is trying to keep some semblance of 'family' important even when you are estranged?