Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Today is a big day in the lives of school aged children.  Picture Day.  At our house, it’s been on the calendar since the first day of school, and we have spent at least 5 car rides discussing the outfit, the hair, the wake up time, curling iron vs. flat iron, matte vs. gloss, and several other very important details.  

I think this is probably a pretty universal thing.  I remember the stress and anxiety of picture day well.  If you’re a tweenage girl who has a history of being incredibly un-photogenic*, there’s a lot riding on that 10 seconds in front of the camera.  That’s your student ID, your yearbook photo, your sheet of wallets to pass out to friends...And the camera guy does not give a rip if your photo is worthy of catapulting you into a lifetime of popularity, or relegating you to the lonely cafeteria table next to the garbage cans.  (Probably because the camera guy sees how adorable every single one of those kids is, and knows that their school photo is not their ticket to greater social standing.  But he is not a middle school aged girl who knows in her heart that she is on the cusp of becoming the next Molly Ringwald if ONLY her school photo could capture the essence of who she really is.)

*I’m strangely unphotogenic, not my gorgeous daughter who has had a camera in her face since the moment of her birth.   In fact that whole paragraph was total projection.  She wants to be Meghan Trainor.  She doesn’t even know who Molly Ringwald is.  Anyway…

Back to my original point.  Picture Day = big deal.  Now add that for my two little Catholic School sweeties, Picture Day is one of the only days during the entire school year when they can choose to wear whatever they want* to school.  

“Whatever they want” is not actually whatever they want.  There was an edict about proper “free dress” attire that came home earlier this week - no jeans, no tank tops, no athletic wear, no short skirts, no rips or get the idea.  But the point is, this is their one chance to use fashion to express exactly who they really are inside.  Underneath all the chinos, polo shirts, and plaid skorts are short humans with hopes and dreams that can only be expressed through jewel toned skinny pants and ironic t-shirts.  It’s like that Eminem song -  YOU ONLY GET ONE SHOT to let your classmates who have known you since pre-k see the real you.  True, it’s the same you they see every weekend and all summer long.  But this is a Wednesday.  In September!  Don’t blow it.

The net result of all this buildup is as follows:
  1. After much panic yesterday I drove to Gordman’s at 8 p.m. and bought everyone a new outfit.  
  2. Sweet Pea woke up almost 2 hours before we needed to go and began a grooming ritual worthy of a Kardashian.  She even let me help with hair, which I am rarely allowed to do.  When she was done she looked stunning.  And also 17.  Well, what the 17 year olds would look like if they didn’t all look 25.
  3. I’m having chest pains.  
  4. Sweet William on the other hand refused to get out of bed until the last possible second.  He took a shower, but didn’t even get his hair wet.  He was happy to wear the new shirt I bought him last night, but told me at length about the injustice of the “walk and talk” recess they would be forced to endure this morning so that they didn’t get dirty. His parting words, “Mom, wouldn’t this picture be better if I looked like I was actually having fun?  And when I have fun I usually get dirty, so….?”

Happy Picture Day.

Friday, September 2, 2016

For 18 months I’ve been walking through what is easily the biggest shitstorm of my entire life, but outside of my inner circle, I haven’t talked about it much.  Lots of reasons there.  Some healthy, some probably not.  But the end result is the same.  It’s not common knowledge.  And that’s fine.  I don’t need it to be be broadcast.  But you know, it gets weird sometimes.  We’ve been separated for a year now, but people still ask me all the time how he’s doing, where he is, etc. etc.  So you end up telling people that you’re getting divorced while you’re doing things like attending back to school night or standing in line at the grocery store, which has caused at least a dozen people to burst into tears.  And then I feel personally responsible for making them feel better, which generally makes me burst into tears, and ugh.  

So yesterday I got an email from the mediator saying that the judge has signed the papers and I am officially divorced.  Mixed emotions about that for sure.  It just happened that I was having lunch with two girlfriends who have been absolute rocks for me though all of this when the email came through.  How serendipitous is that?  I am grateful for sure.  It was a momentary punch in the gut to see those words, but it didn’t take me very long to realize that it’s Ok.  I’m Ok.  I’m better than Ok, actually.  I really like my life.  And I am so proud of myself for how i have moved through this.  My kids are happy.  Our home is peaceful and secure.  I’m financially stable.  We have a lot of joy in our lives that we were intentional about creating.  I can see very clearly that my life has infinite possibilities.  So even though I’m sure I’ll always be sad about my marriage ending, it’s not my life ending.  

So I posted to Facebook saying as much.  I tried really hard to just let it be a fact.  No commentary.  No big emotional vomit.  Just, “the end of a chapter, the beginning of a new chapter.”  It was absolutely exhausting thinking about walking through another year, or month, or minute of pretending.  So I quit pretending.  I was kind of hoping that no one would comment.  What has happened instead has been incredibly humbling and overwhelming.  So many people have said kind and encouraging things.  I have a good tribe.  My life has so much joy in it.  

There were a lot of people who commented and liked the post who will remain friends with both my ex and I.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  We are amicable.  I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to choose sides.  And I hope that the people who assign themselves more to his camp than mine understand that wishing either of us well in our journey toward healing and rebuilding isn’t disloyal.  In fact, it’s probably the most loyal thing you could do.  Our separation was sudden, and unexpected.  We’ve both been sad and angry at times.  But even so, it hasn’t been an ugly divorce. There hasn’t been a lot of blame assigned.  We worked hard at that. We both deserve to be whole and happy.  I hope there’s not anyone out there who feels otherwise.  I suppose time will tell.