By Tracy M
“I signed them this morning. I thought you should know.” His familiar voice cracked as I jammed the handset further into my shoulder and the kids raced around my legs and over the mess of un-packing that has taken over Little House. Hot tears sprang to my eyes, and I couldn’t choke out an answer. I swallowed hard, when I opened my mouth to say something, instead of something calm a sob escaped. It’s done. It’s over. Ten years of marriage and 19 years of him being my best friend, and today, it’s over.
Emotional condescends to the visceral. It’s hard to breathe as the room swirls around my drowning eyes, and I sit down hard on the box closest to me. Leaning my head between my knees, flashes of the life imagined and scenes from happier times fire rapidly on the screen in my mind, like an award-show retrospective of those who’ve died. Yes, there I am in my wedding dress, peeking through the curtains when he spies me and bursts out laughing- the happiest day of my life. There I am holding his hand at the top of Vernal Falls on our honeymoon. And there, in the hallway at our little rental house as we inspect the little stick with two pink lines on New Year’s Eve. And there, holding my right hand and crying with joy as our first baby slides from my body. There we are, walking together into the first house we bought. Another baby, another boy. There he is carrying my fainted limp body from the floor in the bathroom, and then there is a surprise baby girl. There we are buying our dreamhouse, and then there are the lights dimming. There is sadness that permeates years. There are more tears than I can count, and then there is this. Today, his soft, sad voice saying out of respect for me, he signed and it is Over.
Three children are calling for me, needing me to be strong, to carry on, and be their mama. I quietly hang the phone up. What I want is to curl up and let the wall of sorrow crash over me, to cry and wail in pain and sadness. Instead, I need to make dinner and finish sorting and unpacking and figure out what comes next. My kids are fighting and Abby is crying because Bean hit her and it’s all me.
My divorce is not typical. I don’t know if there is such a thing- but even by stretched-out definition, this divorce falls outside the ring. My ex is allowed no contact with his children until he jumps through an elaborate and specific set of hoops prepared by the state. If he manages it all perfectly, the earliest he will have contact with his children is late this fall. And that’s a mighty big IF, folks. Practically, what this means for me and the kids is that we are It. All the time. Constantly. There is no dinner with dad two nights a week, or every-other weekend fun to look forward to. There is no “just running to the store, honey, I’ll be right back…”, there is no child support, there is no insurance, there is nothing. There is me. And there are my kids, with me being their mama.
Most days we do fine. Really. The kids are happier and we all laugh more than we have during the hard years while I was in the pressure cooker of trying to hold my marriage and life together. I’ve had to let go of a lot of control- it’s just not possible to do it all and do it well. Like I said, most days we’re fine.
Then, some days… some days bring me to my knees, and you can follow my path through the thorns by the drops of blood left behind. It is never far from the surface that I am one person trying to meet the needs of three little human beings. But it’s not only their needs I must meet- which are great and deep- but I must manage a regular life too. The bills, insurance, rent, gas in the car, the garbage, Scouts, homework, baths, laundry, cooking meals, bedtimes, IEP meetings for my autistic son, dentist and doctor appointments, school registration for them AND for me, church, callings, visiting-teaching and being taught, scripture study, FHE, and that doesn’t even begin to touch on the personal. The grieving we are all experiencing- that is always just beneath the surface. The child who crawls in bed with me more nights than not and weeps into my shoulder. The little girl who tells her dolls that she doesn’t have a dad anymore.
Everything on my list is likely on the list of every other woman reading this- I’m not special. The only difference? There is no one to share the weight. Child has an ear infection? Take all of them to the doctor. Out of milk? Everyone in the car. Need the Rx filled for the ear? Let’s go, buckle up. Kid with stomach flu and you’re out of bleach? It’s all you, baby. There is no “divide and conquer” anymore.
Yesterday was one of those days that left bloody footprints all over my life. By dusk, I had put all the kids in their rooms while I stood in the kitchen with the broom I had just broken trying to get a Lego from under the stove, and I cried my eyes out. So many things had gone wrong that day I figured sending them to bed to read was the best thing for all parties. You’ve had days like that. Days when your husband was on a business trip and you were counting the hours until he got home because you were so exhausted? I’ve been there. I remember that feeling. I would love that feeling now- the anxiety coupled with the anticipation that surely you could make it till Friday… what a relief Friday would be. Only now, Friday is never coming.
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