Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Today I took off my wedding ring. And put it in a box. On a high shelf.

Yes, I know that technically we are still married, but when your husband says things like, "Perhaps we should have never gotten married in the first place. Maybe that was our real mistake," then I think it's totally justified.* It's obvious that we're not going to be married for much longer, and that the emotional, intimate aspect of our marriage has already gone down the shitter, even if the legal side persists. So why mislead the general public, or myself, about my status?

When we decided to separate, I moved my engagement ring to the other hand and left the wedding ring where it was. It was a fitting symbol, I thought, to separate the two parts. When things took a turn for the worse, I took off the engagement ring for good (same box, same shelf) but left the plain wedding ring in place. It was a kind of grim statement about my commitment to this whole thing. Yesterday, I went out and bought myself a nice big chunky wavy silver ring, just so I didn't have naked hands. I need something to fiddle with when I get nervous. It's cute, but it's been years since I've worn something without platinum and diamonds, and it's a little odd. I think I kind of like it.

I wish I had not hidden my camera somewhere inconvenient so that I could take a picture of the smooth, untanned skin that was under my ring, and now sticks out like some glaring beacon - Hey, look at me! Newly single! You can still see the indent left from my wedding ring! Point it out and I just may cry all over you... Awkward!!

I am keeping the ring, rather than pawning it, even though it would probably pay off my MasterCard, because my mother has a very similar looking ring that she inherited from my great-aunt, and when I die, the girls will each get one and nobody will have to fight over who gets Mom's ring. We are nothing if not practical.

*FWIW**, that quote is taken completely out of context from a much longer email in which he actually said a few relevant, not-hurtful things. Credit to whom credit is due.

**That means "for what it's worth," dear. :)

Monday, June 16, 2008


Jesus God, if I was 16 again I would be posting angsty lyrics on my MySpace and analyzing them to smithereens.

But now, since I'm a grown-up and all, I can calmly sit back and realize that I'm going through the various stages of grief. How many are there these days? 5? 7? 42?

Most of the time, I can clearly identify which stage I'm in. At the moment. Some days, it seems like I'm going through all seven stages at the same. damn. time. Like tonight, for instance.

At the moment, I'm straddling six of the seven:

Shock - the complete paralysis of disbelief? Gotcha.

Denial? Puh-leeze. This shit only happens to *other* people.

Anger? Boy-fucking-howdy, let me tell you about the anger. Barely contained fury is more like it.

Bargaining? I think Husband could attest to that. Tonight's premium offer? "What if I promise to *act* happy all the time?" No takers? Seriously? Bueller?

Depression? Are you kidding me? Isn't that what got me here in the first place?

Testing? Looking at Every. Possible. Solution. (except the obvious one, of course). I'm on it.

Somehow I'm managing to sit in all six at once. A feat of emotional gymnastics, if you will. I am an Emotional Olympian.* The only one I'm missing, the ever-elusive Antarctica of grief stages?


Nowhere near. Can't even imagine it. Sometimes, when I'm leaning more toward Depression rather than, say, Denial, I can see that, yeah, sure, this is probably the End. But just because I can see the End doesn't mean that I have managed to Accept it yet. I don't want to accept it. Plain and simple. I don't want to accept that this is the end of my marriage. That this is how my life is meant to turn out. In my head are a million mantras and catchy sayings and, it should go without saying, song lyrics about moving on, picking oneself up and dusting oneself off, putting back together the shattered pieces of ones' entire world. But none of those are making it from my head to my heart.** Because I don't want to. Is there a secret eighth stage devoted to sheer pig-headedness? I'm there. And I'm not leaving. And you can't make me.***

And then, miraculously, someone small comes running in and dives into bed next to me, and as she does a faceplant to the mattress, all limbs flailing, I hear her whisper under her breath:

"Kung Fu Panda!"

And that's when I know I'll be all right.

*There's a Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding joke waiting to be made here. Go for it. I left my sense of humor back in Shock.
**Good Lord, that was trite. Feel free to click away now. I am, too.
***And if you had a webcam, you'd see me crossing my arms and sticking out my tongue at you.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


In a conversation with Husband earlier tonight, he said something that really got to me. He said that he could never really understand my depression.

And I didn't have anything to say to that.

Unless it's something that you live with 24/7, inside your own head, I don't think that you really *can* understand it. And that's okay. It's to be expected. I don't understand what it feels like to be dying of cancer. I know that it must really suck - I know that there are probably fear and anger and uncertainty and pain and incredible sadness. But that's all conjecture. I don't know, because I don't have to live it.

But I think that, if I needed to, I could probably empathize with someone who *was* living it. If I was put into close contact with someone living daily with a terrible disease, I'd like to hope that I would be able to *try* to understand what that person was going through, to realize that I *can't* understand, and to be there for that person anyway.

Of course, I might not be able to. Much as I'd like to think that I could, chances are that, in the moment, I'd be too selfish, too distracted, too frustrated to come through for that person. It's human nature - the spirit is willing, yada yada...

And so I can see how easy it is for him not to understand my depression. I understand, even, how hard it must be for him. But where I get hung up is this:

If I was put into a situation in which I wanted to understand someone's pain, but couldn't, and I tried to empathize, but failed, I don't think that I would have the balls, EVER, to blame my failure to understand or empathize on the person who was sick.

Hey, Joe, you're dying, and that sucks, but you have to stop bringing the rest of us down all the time! *We're* not sick, ergo why should *we* be bothered with all the doom and gloom? It's really starting to piss us off!

And, in effect, that's what he's done. He doesn't understand my depression, but somehow, that's not his fault, it's MINE. And I don't buy that. I don't care if he "gets it" or not - I just want him to *try*, to realize that maybe he can't understand, and figure out that it's okay.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

BadMommy comes back

Things here have been going pretty well lately, or so I thought. But today, all my hard-fought-for self-control went straight out the window.

It all started at midnight. The girls have developed some sort of sudden virulent summer cold thing, and the snot and The Cough are back with a vengeance. So the two of them spent the entire night, both of them, in my bed. Awake. Coughing, sniffling, asking for kleenex, water, covers, etc. So, a good night's sleep was out of the question.

Oddly enough, when I woke up this morning, Tank wasn't wearing any pants. Or underwear. I swear she had them on when we went to sleep... nowhere to be found this morning. Until we went into the living room. Where she had apparently gone in the middle of the night, pulled out my whole bag of nail polish and files, etc., peed on the couch, taken of the wet pants and left them in the middle of the floor, and come back to bed, all without waking anyone up. In the pitch dark, mind you.

Then, too, we woke up a little later than I had hoped, and the time it took to breakfast, clean, shower, and get ready for the Bear's soccer game was really tight. Let's not get me started on how I feel about three-year-olds playing soccer. She hates it. I hate it. It was all my MIL's idea. She just stands there on the field looking miserable the whole time. Which pisses me off. So I sit there, steaming, the whole time, wishing we could just call it quits. It doesn't help that my in-laws are sitting next to me, calling out helpful things like, "Run, Bear!" "Go for the ball, Bear!" "Come on, Bear!" when it's painfully obvious that she doesn't want to do any of those things.

Then, too, I had made tentative plans yesterday with a newish friend from work. Nothing earth-shattering: a garage sale and a trip to the beach. I forgot, of course, about the game, inconveniently timed so as to conflict with the garage sale. I overlooked, too, the fact that the garage sale, while relatively close to my new apartment and work, is a million miles away from my current location. By the time the game was over, the kids were changed, and we were ready to go, we wouldn't have gotten there til noon, which is way past the prime of any good garage sale. Not to mention the price of gas and the thought of spending two hours in the car with Things One and Two. Not an appealing prospect. So, needless to say, I didn't get to go.

And the thing that really grated on me is that my friend was all about making tentative plans and seeing where the day led. Which is all fine and dandy for the single among us, but as any mom will tell you, it's all about the schedule. I can't do this whole freewheeling, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stuff. I need concrete times and plans so that I can work around the girls' schedule. So I was frustrated by that, too, but it's not the kind of thing that you can explain to someone who doesn't live that kind of life, so I just backed out and left it at that.

And then my MIL is pissing me off in so many innumerable ways I can't even explain. It's like now that she knows we're leaving, she doesn't feel the need to hold back on what she really thinks about me. Which is obnoxious to the nth degree, even though I kind of get where she's coming from. That doesn't mean I don't want to give her a piece of my mind about 2348901 times a day, though.

And Husband has been traveling for work a lot lately. Like, A Lot. Like, they only let him come for three days at a time between trips. And it's going to last all summer. Not that it should bother me, since I won't be here, but it's still very frustrating in ways I can't quite explain. I miss him, and I'm lonely.

Whatever. That's a lot of lame excuses for the fact that I can't control my temper very well. And my kids are the ones who end up paying the price.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Sitting on opposite couches with matching laptops. I'm googling when I hear Husband muttering under his breath:

"...gently rub the tip and place it in the..."

He has a look of intense concentration on his face. I'm intrigued. "What?" I say.

"...gently rub the tip of the multimeter and place it in the sensor..."

"Electrician Porn!" I exclaim.

How can you give this up? Why would you want to?

I hate it when they're right

Someone* once said, "You can't go home again." The main idea there, of course, being that life is a one-way progression, and that as we learn and grow and change and age, it's impossible to go back to the place we came from. I mean, sure, people go home all the time. When I'm back in my old hometown, I drive by the house I grew up in to see what it looks like. The house is still there. It was home for many years. I can go there, but I can't go back to the way I was when I lived there. Life, once lived, cannot be un-lived.

I may have mentioned once or twice or a thousand times that Husband and I have a house. Our house.** The Albatross, as I like to call it in moments of affection. As of the first of July, our house will be the dwelling place of three single college boys. They will have wild parties in it. People will vomit off of my lovely wraparound porch. They will spill beer on my refinished hardwood floors and reheat stale pizza in my gourmet kitchen. They will shack up with sorority girls of questionable morality in my girls' pale yellow bedroom.

And I'm okay with that. I don't live there anymore. I will never live there again. Somebody ought to. Their rent will pay my mortgage, and enable me to pay my own rent. It's circular. Life moves that way.

As of the first of July, my girls and I will be the newest tenants in a small apartment building on the north side of Chicago. Two bedrooms and a bath, heat and water included, will be our domain. Four flights up, four flights down. Locks on every door. We will make our mark on our new space, decorating and arranging to suit our needs. We will dirty up the new bathtub, let milk sour in the new fridge, spend sleepless nights under this strange new roof.

I'm okay with this, too. It's a strange change, a strange set of circumstances. Most people go from renting to owning, not the other way round. I couldn't provide any landlord references but myself and Husband on my rental application. People look askance, but most are polite enough not to ask too many questions.

We leave one house, we enter another.*** People move everyday. We are not unique in this. We are not of the generation who grew old and died in the houses they were born in. We are nomads, wandering from house to house, relationship to relationship, city to city, looking for the one that's "just right."

I'm going home to pack soon, to sort through the things we want to keep, the things we want to get rid of, recycle, hand down, throw away. 1000 square feet of apartment doesn't hold 2200 square feet of house. We will pare down judiciously, taking only the things that we really want, really need. Everything else is expendable.

But even though I'm going home, to the place I own, our first house, Thomas Wolfe was right. I can return to the physical location, but I can't ever recapture that time in my life. Now that we've come to this place, where words like Separation and Divorce are bandied about as carelessly as Husband and Wife, Love and Hate, we can't go back to that place. To be fair, it wasn't that great a place to start with. In the time we lived there together, I had a baby and a nervous breakdown. When Husband lived there alone, after I left, he had an affair. There was fighting, a lot of fighting. There was no sleep, but lots of crying. But there was also hope, the underlying hope that if the kids would just get a little older, if a little more time would pass, if the bills would get paid, if the schedule would change, if he could only see, only understand, then things would get better. There was always this hope.

That hope, once lost, can't be regained. There are different kinds of hope, certainly, but that one is forever tied to our old home, the one that was Ours, not just Mine. It's not coming with me when I pack.

*i.e. everyone who feels the need to turn perfectly decent book titles into cliche phrases about life. See also "Things Fall Apart."

**It's a very very very fine house.

***Choosing, for the moment, to completely ignore the Transition Year spent here with my inlaws.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Home is...

a place where nobody cares if you have dirty feet, dinner comes on a Ritz cracker*, and there's always a Mad About You rerun on. I love that damn show.

*peanut butter and banana for the Bear, PB and J for Tank

Sunday, June 01, 2008

My home is...

a diaper free zone! After 1,402* days of diapering one, sometimes two, butts, my home is diaper-free. I can't really tell you how happy that makes me...

Ok, so I'll confess, we still have a diaper or two floating around. But now Tank is putting them on her dolls, and I'm not even touching them. If I never change another diaper, it will still be too soon.

*No, I did not make that number up out of my head. Yes, I did the math. 58 days shy of four years. I could probably do the math on how many diapers a day, times number of days, but then I'd have to croak.