I’m tired of “going through a divorce.” I’m just done with crappy husbands getting away with infidelity; moody teenagers manipulating and pouting; lawyers; property division; and mistresses getting all the romance with none of the toilet scrubbing. Done. Here’s how I’m cheering myself up:
My kids are all old enough that I’m no longer fluent in the languages of Disney and Cartoon Network. I haven’t had to sit through any number of headache-inducing animated movies for several years.
So I missed Frozen.
I’ve heard younger kids talking about it. I’ve seen mention of the movie and The Song online, but I didn’t see the movie or care much about it.
Then I took kid #3 to the pediatrician last week. She was freaking out over a weird, itchy rash that moved from her elbows and knees to her calves and shoulders. She’d half convinced herself it was a rare and terminal disease. (Spoiler alert: it isn’t. Probably.*)
But I took her to the doctor to be sure. We signed in at the front desk and sat down in the waiting room. Like every other pediatrician’s office in the country, there was a television mounted up high on the wall and a video playing. It was Frozen. The other kids in the waiting room were captivated, but I guess it was close to the end and by the time kid #3’s name was called, the credits were rolling.
Kid #3 declined to have me accompany her to the examination room, so I stayed in the waiting room with a bunch of little kids and their smartphone obsessed parents. One little girl was brave enough to ask the receptionist to use the scene select feature on the DVD. Guess what scene she wanted? The Song.
It’s a song called “Let It Go,” sung by the beautiful blonde protagonist, Elsa.** The receptionist must get this particular request multiple times a day because she queued that song up like a professional DJ.
And, ya’ll, it was a little girl flash mob right there in the waiting room.
All four of the under-10 year olds stood up, faced the TV and sang every single word. Loud and proud. They knew every hand gesture, head turn, and step, too. They emoted like crazy.
It was a little awe-inspiring.
The nurse came out to call a patient back to the doctor, but wisely held off until the performance was over.
I’ve had far worse afternoons. I really thought we should’ve tipped our waitress.
*Naturally the doctor didn’t have a clear diagnosis, so kid #3 needs allergy testing for environmental and food allergies. Given that this kid only eats a half dozen foods, please keep a good thought that it’s a pollen or laundry detergent issue, not gluten intolerance.
**Um, it sure seemed like Elsa was underdressed for the weather, right?
We can do better…
Part of my process going through divorce has been to examine the words and actions leading up to “irreconcilable differences,” with forgiveness as my end goal. In the beginning, that meant obsessively analyzing every aspect of myself, Voldemort, and our relationship — and I couldn’t imagine any forgiveness of him.
For a while I simply blamed him for the mess we were in.
As I got some distance, I tried to look at what I did and didn’t do to see what my responsibility for the divorce was. It takes two to tango, yes?
I kept coming back to threads from long ago and, with the passage of time, seeing how those threads continued and looped into everything else. Early in our marriage, we both would go out separately with friends occasionally. There were a couple of times that he stayed out all night, but always with an explanation (sometimes it was even plausible): “I’d had too much to drink and didn’t want to drive. I slept in my truck.”
Once: “We saw a hit and run accident as we were coming out of the bar and stayed to talk to the police. I don’t think the pedestrian made it.”
Occasionally: “Ask (my friends) if you don’t believe me.”
I took him at his word, probably because I knew nothing inappropriate was happening when I went out with my friends, therefore it must be the same for him.
I trusted him.
I had small suspicions, but dismissed them. I didn’t want to be that jealous, clingy wife. When I was pregnant with kid #2, the small suspicions coalesced and I became almost certain he was having an affair. I confronted him and got the standard cheater response, “Are you crazy?”
No, I’m not. And you didn’t answer the question.
I asked him to go to marriage counseling. He refused.
And that, right there, is where I feel responsible for the divorce. It’s where my regret lives.
It’s the point in time that I now see I had Choices-with-a-capital-c to make. I could’ve pushed the issue and insisted we see a therapist. I could’ve gone to a divorce lawyer. I could’ve kicked him out.
But I didn’t.
I checked out. I stopped asking for the love and validation he so clearly wouldn’t give me. I learned how to be a single parent while I was still married because he wasn’t interested in being a dad to our children.
I just shut down emotionally.
So I still sometimes wonder, what if I’d…done something differently? Would the outcome have changed?
It doesn’t matter, of course, because I don’t have a time machine. But sometimes I still wonder if I had it to do over, would I do it differently?
Well, one specific moron.
We finally got a couple of offers on the family home. Hallelujah! My realtor-friend and I worked all the angles because for a brief, shining moment there was a little bidding war going on.
Of course, the bids were well below our asking price, so it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. Ultimately, we reached accord with a buyer over the weekend before last and the realtor sent the final counter-offer out to Voldemort and me via email last Monday evening.
I signed, scanned, and emailed it back immediately.
Voldemort did not.
He played his helpless game. The realtor re-sent the forms to him at both his work and home emails. Then Voldemort went completely off the grid.
The realtor called me and asked me to email him and light a fire. The buyers were jumpy and wanted escrow opened immediately. I emailed him and basically said he needed to sign and return the form so we could open escrow that day.
The realtor was pulling her hair out. She re-sent the documents a third time, using an online document service. She said she could wait until the next day to open escrow, but we really need to move. I told her to give him until after dinner and if he didn’t return the papers by then I’d pull out the big guns and cc all the lawyers.
(It’s really funny, in a nasty way, that Mr. Mens’ Rights attorney was so concerned at the settlement meeting that one of us — looking right at me — would hold up the paperwork. Dude, you were looking in the utterly wrong direction on that.)
Anyway, in true passive-aggressive fashion, Voldemort returned the electronically signed documents after dinner, as I predicted. He answered my email and said that the scanner at work wasn’t functional, so he couldn’t scan and email them back.
There’s a full array of office equipment available, like, y’know, a friggin’ fax machine.
This was just more typical crap from him. He knew we needed those papers. He knew we were sweating getting escrow opened.
He made his bulls**t power play, even though it could adversely affect him, too. His being the wrench in the works and getting all that attention from us was what mattered.
Dear God, please let this deal make it all the way through escrow so none of us have to deal with that addlepated moron anymore.
San Diego County is on fire. We’ve had temperatures above 90 degrees this week with humidity under 10%. The winds are crazy with gusts over 30 miles per hour. The most recent news reports are that there are at least seven wildfires currently burning in the county. And the weather conditions are predicted to stay dry and hot through Thursday.
However scary the pictures are on the television, it’s exponentially scarier in person. I’ve watched fire crawl over the mountains toward my neighborhood in both 2003 and 2007. We were surrounded by fire coming toward our house in 2007. It’s more terrifying than I can articulate. This time, we’re lucky: we’re not in danger.
At this point, Phoenix is both cooler and safer. If you’re in a threatened neighborhood, please get your go-bags, kids, and pets ready to leave. Keep a good thought for everyone affected. I have a feeling this is just the beginning.
Pass the tissue.
Happy Mother’s Day!
I spend entirely too much time click-clickity-clicking all over the internet. I read a number of blogs, many that have no resemblance to anything in my real life. I just enjoy the author’s style or want to understand someone else’s experience of the world. And then there are the things I stumble upon and wonder how I ever lived without them. Like Persephone Magazine.
It’s an amazing collaboration of at least a dozen women, most with strong feminist views. The tagline for Persephone mag is “Martinis are gin. Ellipses are three dots. There are certain truths in the universe.”
The writers are a great mix of married and single, straight and lesbian, mothers and childless. They’re a cross-section of us. Even when I don’t agree with the opinion presented, I appreciate the author’s intelligence and humor.
A sampling of my fave recent articles:
Thank God For British TV Great suggestions for your Netflix queue because regular television will bore you into a coma.
Breastfeeding in Public This one proves we haven’t come very far since I last breastfed an infant more than 10 years ago. Sigh.
The Rock Star Economist Wonder about all the hubbub surrounding Thomas Piketty? Here ya go. Bonus: writer performs a fun original song about her love for Mr. Piketty.
Standard warning about falling f-bombs. Duck and cover! So now you’ve got something to do this weekend whether you’re hiding from hurricanes or heatwaves or your mother. Enjoy.
Hydrangeas don’t grow very well in the yards I’ve had in San Diego. It’s too sunny (oh, boo hoo) and gets too hot. So, naturally, hydrangeas (and peonies) are the pinnacle of Spring flowers to me.
I tried planting some at the old house. Multiple times. The poor plants would last a month or two, but as soon as summer came, they’d die. It finally occurred to me to grow them as container plants and move them in or out of the sun as the seasons ebbed and flowed.
Four years ago I bought a large hydrangea plant at Lowe’s and placed it on the front porch of our old house. It was a beautiful plant with huge white flowers. Since it was on a covered porch, the hydrangea did really well. At some point in the fall, I forgot to water it and it went into a coma. When it looked brown and sad, I consigned it to plant purgatory along a fence in the backyard.
And promptly forgot about it.
We must’ve had some rainfall that winter, because when Spring rolled around, the plant had a bunch of new shoots and green leaves. Since it clearly had a will to live, I brought it back to the front porch and took care of it for the next few months.
Again it bloomed with those giant white flowers.
Again it seemed to die in the September heat and Santa Anas.
We’ve been locked in this cycle for three years.
I almost trashed it when we moved, but at the last minute, I brought the plant to the new townhouse and set it on the back porch. A couple of months ago, it sent out some tentative green leaves which promptly burned in the sun. I’ve been dragging the pot all over the little back porch trying to find its sweet spot.
Right now it’s against the back fence under the neighbor’s overhanging ficus tree. (I’ve never seen a ficus this big; it’s at least eight feet tall and four feet wide. The neighborhood cats hide on the fence under the branches and taunt the dogs in the neighbor’s yard.) The shade from the tree protects my hydrangea from the sun and I water it regularly.
It’s coming back again with green leaves popping out from under the dead, dry branches.
Honestly, I’m impressed. Despite the neglect and poor circumstances, this hydrangea keeps coming back. And even blooming.
It seems there’s always hope.
A couple of weeks ago, kid #1 mentioned that his college was putting on a performance of The Vagina Monologues and would I like to go? Well, you bet! I briefly considered the probability of awkwardness in seeing this particular show with my 21 year old son, but vaginas exist and I’m pretty sure he knows it.
The Vagina Monologues was written by Eve Ensler and first produced in 1996. I remember the mostly shocked news reports at the time and based on the name alone thought it must be a shock-value pseudo-feminist offering.
I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
This production featured performers from the college (students and instructors) as well as performers from a local theater group. The audience was 90% women, which made me take a hard and admiring look at the men in attendance. The production was part of the One Billion Rising movement and all the proceeds from the performances went to the only safe house for battered women in our local area. (And given that my city has a population of more than 250,000, how effed up is it that abused women have only one place at which to seek shelter?)
Right from the start, there was a sense of community and commonality in the audience. The word “vagina” is uttered dozens, if not hundreds, of times. Every slang word for vagina is used, including a bunch I’d never heard before (coochi snorcher?). The show is much funnier than I’d imagined and more harrowing. “My Vagina Was My Village” is a monologue about the atrocity of rape as another weapon of war. It’s moving and sickening. The entire play is emotionally powerful.
Kid #1 was deeply affected by the monologues about rape and abuse. I was tickled by the celebration of the experience of living life with a vagina. The play is based on interviews with thousands of women from every walk of life and I related to something in virtually every monologue.
It’s brilliant. Definitely for adults, but worth the time to go see. There’s a damn good reason this play is still going strong 18 years after the first performance. It’s excellent.
Have you seen The Vagina Monologues? What did you think?