One Year Later
June 3rd, 2017
It’s been a year. On this weekend, one year ago, my kids and I moved out of our house and into my parents’ house – a separation that was leading up to the permanent dissolution of my marriage. In the ever-weird ways of time, it feels both longer and shorter. It was yesterday and a lifetime ago that I exchanged a final hug with my soon-to-be ex, blinked back the tears, and headed inside to make dinner alone.
What has it been like? Overwhelming. Liberating. Terrifying. Tearful. Insane. Joyful. Different.
I told a friend recently that I feel like I’ve stepped out into the sunshine after weeks of cloudy weather. It’s not that my life was doom and gloom while I was married or that I was intensely miserable all the time. Far from it. But you know that feeling you get on the first perfect day of spring? When you step outside, tilt your face to the sky, and feel your whole body relax? You weren’t even aware until that exact moment just how much you needed to feel the sun on your skin or how much tension you were holding inside until you let it go.
That’s what it feels like.
Which isn’t to say that it hasn’t been a difficult transition. Single parenting is hard as hell, even though I have an amazing, engaged co-parent who does at least 50% of the work of raising our kids. Even then it’s crazy hard. There’s a reason we humans are biologically designed to do this parenting thing in twos. My oldest daughter told me the other day that she wanted her dad to live with us again because “it’s just easier.” Yup. I can understand that.
Striking out on your own after ten years as a unit is hard. And beautiful. I am a more authentic version of myself now and my kids see that. It’s not always a pretty sight. I yell more than I used to and I hate that. But I also share more. I tell my kids about the book I’m reading with my book club and I show them the art I made in class while they were at their dad’s. My daughter and I talk about what it feels like when we’re apart and how nice it is to be together again. I take my kids to political resistance meetings and I mow the lawn while they play basketball in the driveway. I feel like they see me more clearly as a person and not just as a mom – and that is what I wanted for them.
I got divorced because staying married wasn’t true anymore. It wasn’t real. And I didn’t want my children to grow up mistaking the fiction that was my marriage for a truth that they should set their hearts on. I didn’t want them to aspire to what I had.
I wanted more for them. And for myself. And for my husband. We all deserved more. Better.
Truth isn’t always easy. Sometimes (often?) the fiction is easier. Truth is hard. Oh my god, it’s hard. But one year later, I still believe it is worth it.