I don’t know what to call my husband now that he’s moved out. We’re living in marital purgatory, separated but without a legal separation agreement. I haven’t filed for divorce or been served with divorce papers. He’s legally still my husband, but that’s a technicality. He’s not yet my ex-husband. I choose not to use his real name here, for so very many reasons. I’ve settled on estranged spouse or ES for short.
I was born to baby boomers. Raised a Navy brat, but didn’t move as much as others have. I went to college, got a job, fell into a career in advertising, got married. We bought a condo and I gave birth to baby #1, returning to work after a three-month maternity leave confident that I could do it all. Fourteen months later, it was a profound relief when the company I worked for was bought out and I was laid off. I really could not do it all.
By mutual decision, I stayed home with baby #1, then gave birth to baby #2. We sold the condo and rented a house. My husband finished his Master’s degree, worked his way up in the academic field he chose. I gave birth to baby #3. We bought a house, husband got tenure. Along the way, there was homeschooling, Little League, AYSO soccer, cub scouts, dance lessons, cats, guinea pigs, hermit crabs, and a minivan.
I figured out how to keep up the house and yard, maintain the cars, maintain myself, juggle three variously aged kids, prepare the taxes, make and stick to a budget, and how to teach so my teens passed the CAHSEE (CAlifornia High School Exit Exam) the first time they took it. I didn’t have a housekeeper, manicurist, facialist, personal trainer, or standing Botox appointment. No one seemed to realize how much work it took to keep everything going.
Three months ago, my husband sent me an email informing me he was moving out. The next day, he did just that. Seven weeks later, I turned 50.
So Susie Homemaker is starting a new chapter. Hell, I may write a whole new book. I want to find my voice, to tell my story. To work through my perceptions, see what signs I ignored, what I just missed. I’m hoping to hear other stories, how others have grown through their experiences of separation, career change, and midlife. I really don’t want to do this alone. Surely we can swap stories and support each other in our new paths.